Friday, October 15, 2010

Civilization V: A Review

For some reason, Sid Meier's Civilization V got pretty bad reviews, which surprises me because the game is really great. I loved Civilization 3 and Civilization 2 and played them for years. Sid Meiers Civilization IV: Complete, though, was a huge disappointment. It introduced a lot of components that were useless and led nowhere. Worst of all, it allowed very little choice in game options. I prefer to customize every game according to my very specific preferences, which was impossible in Sid Meiers Civilization IV: Complete. As a result, I only played it a few times and it turned out to be a complete waste of time.

This new version of the game is a huge improvement on all previous versions, especially the fourth. The graphics are fantastic. The game looks a lot more sophisticated and professionally done. Longer games can get tedious and repetitives, especially for obsessive players like me who need to control every city's production and every unit's movements. So it really helps that every technological advance, policy acquisition, creation of a Wonder, or beginning of a new era is accompanied by a beautifully made screen with an interesting quote. To give an example, when you enter the modern era, you hear a voise announce: "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down that wall!" The leaders of the cultures you meet actually talk to you in their own languages, which is beyond cool.

There are many new options in the game, which initially intimidated me a bit. I can never make myself read a manual or look for help online and prefer to figure things out by trial an error. This version of the game offers such detailed and timely help on every issue you might encounter that learning to play Sid Meier's Civilization V is rendered extremely easy.

Some of the improvements to the game have been a long time coming. You can now purchase new tiles, instead of waiting forever for your civilization to expand on its own. There are city-states that allow exciting new options for diplomacy. You need to make efforts to make a city-state friendly to you but diligence in this area always pays off. Friendly city-states offer great gifts, as well as timely advice on how to run the civilization.

A big new improvement that has caused something of a controversy among Civilization lovers is that religion is gone and has been substituted by different kinds of social policies that can be adopted at different points of the game (contingent on how fast you accumulate culture.) In the previous versions of the game, religion was somewhat of an afterthought and an eventual useless encumbrance. Choosing a religion made very little difference on how the game was run and it always felt like a needless distraction. Social policy, however, has been very well-thought out and is very sophisticated. You need to choose your social policies carefully because they will have a big influence on how your civilization develops.  

I know people have complained that the game runs slowly and crashes often. What you need to know before you buy it is that you need a new and powerful computer to run it. Read the specs carefully and see if your computer meets them all. If it does, this game will process all turns extremely fast and will not crash. Mine has been working perfectly.

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