Civilization V Review

  • Format: PC
  • Unleashed: Out Now
  • Publisher: 2K Games
  • Developer: Firaxis Games
  • Players: 1-12
  • Site:

Civilization is one of PC gaming’s longest running series and certainly one of the most beloved. A combination of military strategy, exploration, diplomacy, history and empire building, in many ways it is remarkable how little has changed since the original iteration, released back in 1991. Religion has come and gone, culture has integrated itself into the game’s core mechanics, and each new version of the game has its own quirks and subtleties. But at a basic level Civilization V is still the same game as its predecessors. It is a testament to the game,that despite much remaining the same, each new version brings fevered anticipation amongst its many fans. Civlization V is no different in this respect and the game certainly does not lack for the “just one more turn” appeal that has become synonymous with the series.

The biggest additions to Civilization V are the introduction of hexes and only allowing one military unit per tile. This revolutionizes the combat from a stack of doom unit spam-fest, that relies on your technology and production capabilities rather than any real tactical or strategic play. Instead you have to think carefully about unit placement, making sure to combine arms for the most effective army. Think archers supporting front-line troops, catapults and trebuchets for city assault or for holding choke-points, and rampaging Cavalry watching the flanks. In theory this addition is all that Civilization V needs to transform it from a brilliant strategy game with rubbish combat, into simply a brilliant strategy game. However, there are a few issues that prevent that from being the case. The AI is not especially good at combat in terms of combining troops into effective armies, or defending its cities. All too often you’ll find your armies waltzing through an enemy nation, capturing their cities freely and destroying what few soldiers they have. Even aggressive and military Civilizations will use their units poorly, and on anything below King difficulty you should have very few difficulties in conquering your foes. At this point you may think “Fine, King difficulty it is”, but the problem with difficulty settings is that they don’t refer to the AI, but the penalties or bonuses applied to your Civ, meaning it’s a relatively cheap way of making the game harder. Your opponents are doing the same things they were before, but you have to work harder to be able to keep up with them.

At this point it’s important to have a look at multiplayer. You might think that with human players instead of AI, the game would become more tactical and allow for some military ingenuity. Unfortunately, once more there are several things that hinder this, namely simultaneous turns and lack of unit animations. Simultaneous turns in multiplayer has been present before in the series and in many ways it’s the only way to play a live multiplayer game; it allows all the human players to move and attack at the same time, greatly speeding up the proceedings. But as you might imagine, once two human players come to blows, the combat becomes a case of each player rapidly trying to move their units against each other, or retreat out of harms way before the opposition can attack. This might have been remedied to a degree if each attack had the wonderful animation present in single player, to allow some thinking time. But the unit animations are entirely lacking from the current multiplayer game. Consequently, the combat is frantic, random and based on luck as to whether your units will do what they are supposed to, before the oppositions. A far cry from the thoughtful strategy of the single-player.

If all of the above sounds overly negative, then it’s important to state that Civilization V is still a wonderful game and many of the changes to the game are almost entirely positive. The Social Policy system that is advanced by accruing culture to unlock bonuses neatly combines the politics and religion of Civ V into something easily comprehensible. Perhaps more importantly, it rewards you constantly throughout the game, bestowing bonuses and making your Civilization stronger. At times Civilization 4 could be guilty of overly confusing descriptions of the mechanics behind the Civics, leaving the player unsure as to the benefit. This time around you can experiment with different paths and builds with a free hand, trying to combine the best bonuses in order to elevate your glorious nation above your rivals. Changes to the way research, gold and happiness work are easy to get to grips with, but still require thoughtful consideration regarding what buildings you should be building (or buying) in order to keep your citizens happy and productive. At the same time it eliminates some of the need for heavy micromanagement, making your empire building more fluid. Tailoring your Civilization into a desired and envied utopia has never been easier.

City states are another new feature that really brings the world map to life. City states are single cities, whose desires and thirst for gifts of gold take precedence over ambitions of global domination that occupy the thoughts of the larger Civilzations. The different types of City State can offer the benefit of having allies, whilst providing you with food, culture or military units. They exist to destroy, capture, liberate or be bargained with and can be instrumental in achieving victory.

Civlization V then is unlikely to disappoint anyone. It inspires the same compulsions to continue playing whilst simplifying the interface and mechanics. Opportunity for advanced players to make the most of the game still exist, in Social Policy builds and clever management of your relationships with City States.

Issues with the AI, with multiplayer and perhaps a few other areas cast a small shadow over this behemoth of a game and bring to mind the phrase ‘two steps forward, one step back’. But as Civilization is about 100 steps above and beyond any rival, it is still an essential purchase for any history enthusiast, strategy fan or indeed ‘gamer’.


Related Posts with Thumbnails

Written by Michael J

Michael is a self proclaimed PC gaming fanatic and is equally at home with all genres, bar platformers and puzzle games. Except Bejeweled, he's awesome at that. Seriously, he is totally like second on his Facebook Bejeweled leaderboard. And they said he'd never amount to anything...

One comment

  1. half_empty80 /

    Now I need to chuck my laptop down the stairs to replace it with one that’ll run Civ 5.

Leave a Reply