Sid Meier’s Civilization V (PC)

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There are two basic classifications in the telling and recording of history. The first says people who put their faith in leaders and those leaders become great people. The other says great people rise to power by the strength of their greatness and inspire the faith of their subjects. Civilization V puts you in control of a nation’s greatest person to lead them through 6050 years of rule. Build cities, manage their development, raise armies, wage war, exploit resources, and unite the world — by whatever means necessary– in this civilization simulator.

Development

Civilization V was developed by Firaxis games and distributed by Take-Two Interactive. Using the Gamebryo Engine and building a new graphics engine it took 56 people over three years to make. The design decision to limit each tile to be able to contain only one unit — forcing them to create a new AI no less– and loss of team members during the multiplayer forced the developers to trim down the systems as they were in Civilization IV. The Civilization I was made all the way back to 1991 and Civ V was released on September 14th, 2010 with it’s final expansion, Brave New World, being released on July 9th, 2013 — that’s more than 20 years of history. It’s competition was Amnesia: The Dark Descent (PC, Mac, and Linux), Space Invaders Infinity Gene (PS3 and XBox 360), and Plants VS. Zombies (XBox Live Indie Arcade).

Experiences

This game is one-more-turn syndrome incarnate. These one more turns have turned into hours of additional play. There’s always something going on or some project that needs to be finished, especially after you’ve discovered all the civs. Between politics, wars, wonder projects, and other micro-management I don’t want interrupted I end up carrying through with my designs instead of putting the game down.  There’s also something lovely about roleplaying a leader or anti-roleplaying a leader like Attila the Fun or Ghandi the Great and Terrible… but more on him later.

Gameplay

Here’s what you need to know about playing Civ V: Settlers build cities. Cities use food from nearby tiles to grow and production from nearby tiles to build things. Buildings up the stats on your cities and give you specialist slots which spawn Great people over time who do crazy, powerful, and cool stuff. Military units protect your stuff. Workers improve your land stuff. Science gives you new stuff. Culture improves your stuff in different specified areas. If you build too many cities your people will become unhappy and starting wrecking shit — more cities also increase the science and culture you need before you get the next upgrade. When your citizens aren’t wrecking shit then local barbarians are definitely gonna try.

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Or you could just build cities everywhere… fuck planning.

There are five basic ways to win. Use your science to discover space travel and make a functioning space ship that will make it to a habitable planet. Being voted world leader in the World Congress. Have a bunch of art, wonders, and tourism buildings that make your culture dominant over all others — otherwise known as the accidental win. Destroying all of the other civilizations via capturing their capital. Or waiting until 2050 and hoping you have the highest score. Different civilizations have different abilities so play to their strengths or surprise your enemies with unique strategies.

Civ V is capable of internet multiplayer, hotseat multiplayer, and pit boss multiplayer. Pit boss allows players to sign in and take their turns whenever it’s their turn. The system is incredibly useful for long games where the players don’t have time to sync up their schedules to play — like a play by mail chess game.

The Gush

The music in this game is marvelous. Every civilization has a war and a peace track but sometimes during times of particular peace the game will use some neutral music or another civ’s music. It’s all very inspiring and related to the civilization. It’s no Baba Yetu (The award winning theme for Civilization IV https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IJiHDmyhE1A) but it’s trying.

The systems in this game are incredibly interesting, more balanced, and overall much improved from its predecessors. It’s not longer conquering everyone or going to space. There are more ways to win and therefore more things for the average player to worry about.

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Then again there’s nothing wrong with Conquest victory unless you don’t like the narrator getting snide..

Whenever you discover a technology and when you create certain great works you get a little quote narrated by William Morgan Shepherd and his voice is sweet sweet ambrosia for my ears. I’ve got 275 hours on this game and it took 200 hours of his narration before it started to grate.

It’s a very minor element but all of the leaders speak their native tongue and I just think that’s a marvelous touch.

The Kvetch

Some Civs are just plain better than others. Russia is incredibly powerful with it’s ability to double strategic resources and get +1 production bonuses to them as well. Some maps also suit certain civs more than others. If the map is Pangea and you play a civ that has superior naval things then you’re gonna have a bad time.

There’s an achievement called, “I can has Nukes,” and… it just seems… insensitive.

The AI cheats. I’ve seen the AI run a 300 gold per turn deficit and it never needs to decommission its units or have to worry about low happiness or most of the things your empire has to worry about. I wish there was some way that the AI could be balanced without it being able to simply ignore the rules or get free resources.

Ghandi… just… Ghandi. Ghandi’s AI is a weird one insofar that it is literally passive aggressive. Ghandi is the kind of guy who “forgives” you taking over a few of his cities early game and then launches nuclear weapons at you in the late game. He might seem like he lets things go but he remembers and his retaliation is often without proper scale. Killed some of his guys? He will leave nothing of your Civ but dust. And I mean, you don’t want to wipe him out or be mean to him… he’s fucking Ghandi — it’d just be wrong, and I bet that’s what Meier was banking on.

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gif by Qwazwalt

The Verdict

I love this game, I’m totally blind to most of its sins. But one sin I am not blind to is it’s DLC policy and that a 5 year old game is still $49.99 if you want all the DLC. and you do because without it the game doesn’t include a lot of interesting civs like Korea or Denmark, the diplomatic victory, advanced city-state quests, the trade system, and the religion system. It usually goes on sale for as low as 12 dollars and that’s a good deal but I can’t recommend it at it’s normal price.

Next Week: Undertale

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