Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Image

Review: Civilization V 399

Posted by Soulskill
from the do-not-taunt-the-giant-death-robot dept.
Turn-based strategy is an underrepresented genre of video games. Perhaps it's because they aren't as flashy, or aren't as embedded in the public consciousness as the more popular types of games. Or maybe because it's so damn hard to build them right. The first Civilization game came out 19 years ago. (Feel old? Sorry.) Despite changes in design leadership over the years, Sid Meier and the Firaxis crew realized that they had a solid foundation, and poured their efforts into refining everything that worked, and revamping everything that didn't. Civilization V reflects not just a few years of direct development after the launch of Civ 4, but also nearly two decades of continually evolving game design. Read on for the rest of my thoughts.
  • Title: Civilization V
  • Developer: Firaxis Games
  • Publisher: 2K Games
  • System: Windows
  • Reviewer: Soulskill
  • Score: 8/10

If you're new to the Civ series (or even if you just haven't played one in a while), be prepared for a serious information dump. Civ 5 tries to start you out small and easy, but such things are relative for games this complex. Even setting up a game can seem daunting, though default options and settings go a long way toward making sure your first game is a good one. There's also a tutorial that will walk you through basic situations, AI advisers that explain things and suggest goals, and even a search-able "Civilopedia" with detailed descriptions of abilities, characteristics, and historical significance.

But even with those resources, Civ 5 demands that you spend some time learning about the game before you can really enjoy it. You can get by on the AI recommendations for what you should build, but after a while it feels like you're just facilitating a game of bots vs bots. Once you get past the learning curve, a wealth of options open up before you. Understanding the "how" takes a little time, but lets you start working on "how best," which is a much broader and more difficult question, and the one from which arises the game's extreme depth. Explaining the decision-making process is almost as difficult as the process itself. What Firaxis did really well was make certain that your long-term goals are affected in some way by all of your short-term choices — your task is to solve the equivalent of the Fermi equation for getting the most out of your resources while not neglecting relations with the other empires.

At its heart, Civ 5 is about Cities. Everything else — units, buildings, diplomacy, war, resource gathering and expenditure — arises from that one constant. Once you establish a city, it will produce a variety of resources to be allocated as you direct. It will accumulate citizens, who harvest the land around them for gold, food, production capacity, strategic materials (like horses, so the Cavalry have something to ride), and luxuries (like spices, which tend to make people happier about the prospect of eating rotten onions and old shoes). Cities and citizens also produce culture and science, both of which Firaxis has quantified and made into currencies. As if that weren't enough, cities also slowly generate "Great" people, who have powerful one-time-use abilities, and citizens have a happiness rating, which strongly affects growth.

If that sounds like a lot of different resources, that's because it is — certainly, it gives you more to think about than a traditional gold-and-lumber resource system. But the real complexity comes from the way in which all the resources interact with each other. For example, say you want to get more scientific research out of your city. You can do so by spending a certain number of turns building a Library, which directly increases your research capabilities. However, another option is to build a Workshop, which will make it take less time to build a Library later, as well as other research-enhancing buildings like a Public School or a University, not to mention the dozens of buildings not relating to research. Another option is to strengthen your city's gold production, then use the gold to buy the Library outright. Similar indirect paths exist through virtually every other resource, and there's always the option of hitting your neighbor over the head and making off with his textbooks.

Your nation-building strategy arises out of the interaction between all of these smaller, simpler systems. On that scale, it works, and it's fun. Taken individually, some systems work better than others. Your cities produce Culture, which has two purposes: it makes your territory grow, and it allows you to adopt Social Policies. You can think of the Social Polices like a talent tree for your nation. After accumulating particular amounts of culture points, you spend it to slightly alter how your empire operates. While there are a lot of options to pick from, you actually make choices infrequently, and the policies themselves aren't particularly interesting. They certainly don't have enough of an effect to be discernible by an opponent. Similarly, your scientific research goes into a tech tree, and while there's a certain amount of room to pursue particular technologies before others, the penalty for doing so becomes excessive very quickly. On their own, these systems are not terribly interesting, but being part of a larger system does a lot to minimize their flaws.

Of course, all of these choices depend on having the right information, which in turn requires a UI capable of communicating everything you need to know without getting cluttered. Firaxis did a great job at this. Virtually everything you need is either a mouse-hover or a mouse-click away. Hovering over your resources explains their source and their purpose. Over land, it will show the resources the land offers. By clicking on a city you can see its buildings, choose what it produces, see what it produces and modify how it does so. Manipulating units is dead simple, with mouse-hovers detailing how long it takes them to do something, combat odds relative to an enemy unit, advantages and disadvantages from ranks and terrain, and more. You can zoom in and out on the primary map, and even pull back to a two-dimensional strategic view. A giant glowing button by the minimap is your go-to for making sure units have orders and cities are building something. Every turn, important events pop up as icons on the right side of your screen, and clicking on the icons takes you to wherever you need to look.

Unfortunately, the strength of the UI doesn't carry over to the other aspects of the game that aren't directly related to the gameplay. The menuing system is a bit clunky. Civ 5 is more demanding on hardware than you might expect for a strategy game. Tabbing out is more of a pain than it should be in 2010. And Firaxis, while your introductory cinematic is very pretty, I don't want to see it every time I start the game. Furthermore, I don't want it to take 30 seconds to stop playing after I hit Escape. There are also a few strange setting restrictions. Perhaps there's a good reason not to be able to change video settings in the middle of a game, but I can't think of any. Some of the gameplay settings need to be alterable as well — at least the cosmetic ones. Also, while their implementation of an autosave feature was excellent, manual saving during multiplayer games isn't ideal.

One of most heralded changes from previous Civ games is the switch from square tiles to hexagonal tiles. Having tried it out, I think it's definitely a fun and welcome choice, though its virtues may have been overstated. It gives units a more natural movement, and removes the awkwardness of corners. It also complements another notable change: the inability to stack multiple military units on a single tile. You can no longer pile up enormous armies in the same spot and, when the time is right, flood an enemy nation without a care for placement or attack order. It's definitely a coup for reintroducing tactics to wars between nations. Besieging an enemy city with equivalent forces becomes a delicate puzzle, where each unit needs to be positioned in the right spot to fight the proper opponent or be in range to lob projectiles at them. It also creates situations where troops or terrain can create bottlenecks, which can make a stronger army hesitant to advance on a weaker but well-placed army. Sun-tzu would be pleased. On top of that, cities actually have teeth this time around — they can shoot attackers from a couple tiles away, which adds another element to planning battles.

The other major change is the introduction of City-states. These are essentially miniature empires that never expand. You can have limited diplomatic interactions with them, gaining favor by providing luxury resources or killing somebody for them, or simply by bribing them with gold. Or you can invade their tiny territories and conquer them. I was on the fence about these to start — they take a fair investment of time and resources to befriend or conquer, and they're often in spots to which you would like to expand. But they add another level of complexity to diplomacy, and when you can run an errand for them, they'll supply you with troops and resources, and even interact on other levels, like helping you attack or defend. I think the default settings put too many city-states in the game, but once that number is lowered a bit by modifying settings, they're a lot more fun.

Civ 5's AI is good at some things, and it struggles at others. It does a decent job during battles, maneuvering troops and deciding when to attack in ways that are reasonably close to what a player would do. Diplomacy is hit-and-miss. You'll often have multiple opposing AIs perform the exact same action at the same time. Sometimes it's offers for cooperation or trade agreements. Sometimes it's threats and war. Occasionally it seems like the AI massively overestimates your military capacity, and tries to buy peace from you for much, much more than you would accept. Conversely, proposing a trade is often futile, as they tend to make much higher demands than are reasonable. In a game with several strong opponents, these events can balance out, but other times it will make the game impossible to win or impossible to lose. Oh, and Montezuma's still a jerk.

One of the nice characteristics of the Civilization franchise is that it's easy to see major improvements from one game to the next. Combat tactics, the UI, and diplomatic relations all got a much-needed overhaul, and dozens of little things make for much more streamlined gameplay, allowing you to focus on decision-making without getting bogged down in minutiae. That, combined with their tried-and-true blend of staggered, long-term goals interwoven with short-term objectives makes Civ 5 a great time-waster. I'll bet that most people who play it will fall into the "just one more turn" trap as though the game were hammering away at their dopamine receptors directly.

This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Review: Civilization V

Comments Filter:
  • tl;1mt (Score:5, Funny)

    by Tackhead (54550) on Friday September 24, 2010 @11:50AM (#33688150)

    Read on for the rest of my thoughts.

    OK, it's actually not too long, it's a great review. I'll have a more in-depth comment on it after this turn...

    • Re:tl;1mt (Score:5, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 24, 2010 @12:04PM (#33688326)
      I hope you made the right choice and you're playing an Englishman. [penny-arcade.com]
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Patch86 (1465427)

        That thread has depressed me. Half of the replies are "lul, right on" or "england sux", and the other half set about correcting all the damned punchlines.

        OP was excellent though.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Beerdood (1451859)
      I give this game an overall "meh". I'm basing that off how long I played it after the first day. I stayed up until about 3:30 am playing Civ V before heading off to bed. When Civ IV came out, I stayed up until about 9 am the next day, called in sick to work, took a quick nap and got up again at 1 to play another 12 hours. So based off of that, this game clearly isn't as good as it's predecessor.

      And no, I'm not any more responsible now than I was when Civ IV came out, so that's not a factor in determin
    • I'm curious about the reviewer's "under-represented" comment.

      What about Final Fantasy and its spinoff Tactics series? Pretty well known. Or Front Mission? Or La Pucelle? Or Disgaea? Or Ogre Battles? Or Valkyria Chronicles?
      .

  • by molo (94384) on Friday September 24, 2010 @11:50AM (#33688156) Journal

    Taking a screenshot, scaling it down, saving it as a JPEG and then converting the result to PNG results in terrible image quality. Please don't think this reflects the actual visuals of the game.

    -molo

    • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohnNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Friday September 24, 2010 @12:07PM (#33688376) Journal

      Taking a screenshot, scaling it down, saving it as a JPEG and then converting the result to PNG results in terrible image quality. Please don't think this reflects the actual visuals of the game.

      -molo

      Aside from bandwidth, a low resolution image from a game used in a review can protect you if the company that made the game doesn't like your review and tries to hit you with a DMCA violation for using their copyrighted images. Whenever you submit non-free content to Wikimedia Commons, there are many guidelines designed to keep you and wikimedia inside fair use and safe harbor [wikipedia.org] suggested boundaries.

      For example, when I uploaded a fair use clip of Life on Mars by David Bowie [wikipedia.org], I had to set the sound quality at the absolute lowest possible value and add this rationale to the very long list of requirements to turn a snippet of a copyrighted song into non-free fair use:

      It is of a lower quality than the original recording.

      I believe that a low res distorted image may protect you from being a target by a game publisher if you wish to reserve your right to pan a game, give it a score zero and still present screen shots to add in your criticism. While it's a good idea to mention these are not game quality resolution screen shots, there may be another purpose to their degradation. The 'this is kinda what it looks like' is exactly what protects you from someone claiming ownership of that imagery accusing you of unlicensed distribution of that imagery.

      Just a thought from the world of jacked up copyright insanity. I submitted a story a short while ago that demonstrated how out of hand [slashdot.org] this exact topic can get.

      • by BassMan449 (1356143) on Friday September 24, 2010 @12:28PM (#33688612)

        Using full quality images in this context should easily qualilfy as fair use. One of the most well established fair use examples is using parts of a copyrighted work for reviews of that work.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by molo (94384)

        That is silly in this case. A screenshot of a game is not the game itself, and so is already a minimization of the copyrighted work in question. Any game publisher going after reviewers of the game will quickly find themselves in a lot of hot water. Wouldn't fly, would probably get laughed out of court.

        And agreed, the FBI logo case is ridiculous.

        -molo

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by imthesponge (621107)

        Just FYI: Wikimedia Commons doesn't accept fair use images. Wikipedia itself does.

      • by Skylinux (942824)

        Aside from bandwidth, a low resolution image from a game used in a review can protect you if the company that made the game doesn't like your review and tries to hit you with a DMCA violation for using their copyrighted images.

        I would not support that action but I would support a suit because of defamation :-) These images are terrible, even a low quality YouTube video review has better quality.

  • slightly related.... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Shakrai (717556) *
    ... I'd love to see somebody get the license from Paramount to release an updated version of Birth of the Federation [wikipedia.org]. It was basically Civ2 for the Star Trek TNG universe. I absolutely loved that game.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by eudas (192703)

      I didn't play CIV2 but my $0.02 was that BOTF = MOO2 reskinned, which isn't surprising since both were made by Microprose.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by shadowrat (1069614)
      BOTF was cool, but AI processing time went up exponentially with each successive turn. after a few hours of play, it was agonizing to wait for the chance to do something again. then it crashed. Maybe it worked better on your system.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Reapman (740286)

      Amazing, yet flawed, game. Me and a bud played it for hours and hours and hours, and on newer OS's tweaked it to try and make it playable. Haven't played it in years but I have many fond memories.

      Cloaking was way too overpowered tho, yet at the same time was the only decent way to fight off the borg. Still, was cool when you were playing and suddenly a race would just... disappear. Then.. another.. then.. what's that cube shaped thing over my planet?

      BOTF2 would be a first day must buy IMO. Sadly I'm pr

  • Great Game (Score:5, Interesting)

    by sonicmerlin (1505111) on Friday September 24, 2010 @11:51AM (#33688170)
    It's a shame they removed the religion aspect of Civ 4. While it was at times clunky and had a confusing implementation (forcing a great deal of irritating micromanagement), the effect religion has had on societies historically has perhaps been greater than any other factor. Even today religious extremism plays a huge role in politics and world affairs. I was hoping they'd refine the mechanism to make it more sensible and enjoyable, but it seems they were scared of being politically incorrect and avoided controversy by removing it altogether.
    • Re:Great Game (Score:5, Interesting)

      by DoofusOfDeath (636671) on Friday September 24, 2010 @11:59AM (#33688260)

      It's a shame they removed the religion aspect of Civ 4.

      But is realism entirely desirable? Religious extremism, and governmetns' responses to it, is an actual threat to many of us. When I play Civ (III), it's to have a little semi-real escaism from the worries of my day. I don't want to spend hours worrying about the same stuff I worry about in real life.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        How isn't it escapism? In Civ 4 I could do something about the religious extremist civilizations.

      • Re:Great Game (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Mongoose Disciple (722373) on Friday September 24, 2010 @12:09PM (#33688404)

        In the specific case of Civ IV's implementation of it, yeah, I think it was desirable. It added another dimension of interesting choices to the game.

        Do I adopt the religion of my aggressive neighbor to try to placate them, or do I pick the religion that's spread more in my empire for its mechanical benefits, hoping I can placate or survive that aggressive neighbor another way?

        Do I prioritize researching a tech that will found a religion for its benefits, or do I want to prioritize making axes and taking my neighbor's religious city violently, or do I want to prioritize economic growth now and hope to grab another religion later?

        Should I spread the religion I founded to my larger neighbor for the gold it will feed me and in hopes they'll be Hindu buddies with me, or do I limit its spread to keep my upper hand in Apostlic Palace votes?

        etc. Basically, it feels like an interesting piece fell out of the game for no good reason. Maybe Civ V expansions will add it back in.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Himring (646324)
          "Maybe Civ V expansions will add it back in."

          I highly doubt it. This is a core piece of the game decidedly left out. Expansions can do a lot, but change the actual mechanics of the game? No.

          Religion in civ4 was well done. You could opt to play a game going heavy culture, and this meant going for all possible religions. You then end up building temples/shrines/mosques for each you either founded or learned, and in the end, your city gained more culture. The more culture, the more culture kampf (t
      • by ReverendLoki (663861) on Friday September 24, 2010 @12:15PM (#33688464)
        In Civ 4, my Chinese civilization founded Judaism and made it the state religion. It left an image in my mind of millions of Hasidim bowing at the Great Wall, as the might at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem now. Since then, I'm not too concerned about the realism of religions in that game.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by canajin56 (660655)
      All religious in civ 4 are 100% identical, and have no impact on politics except for, on rare occations, an AI leader demanding you convert or go to war. Not that it matters if you convert, as it has zero impact on anything other than perhaps cities with the same religion in them as you, get a microscopic happiness boost. And since a city can hold many religions even that doesn't actually matter for shit. (Especially since the best civics don't give this bonus anyway). It was a neat idea but they couldn
      • Not that it matters if you convert, as it has zero impact on anything other than perhaps cities with the same religion in them as you, get a microscopic happiness boost ... and a culture boost. ... and all of the religious civics only applied to cities with your state religion. ... and then we have the effects of temples, monestaries, cathedrals, the Apostolic Palace, holy buildings and religious sight...

        Did we play the same game?

      • Re:Great Game (Score:5, Informative)

        by TheSunborn (68004) <tiller@[ ]mi.au.dk ['dai' in gap]> on Friday September 24, 2010 @12:24PM (#33688582)

        No impact on politics? Leders with the same religion as you would like you much more, and almost newer go to war with you. A good way to start was to get an early religion switch to it and then build a road to a neighbour, open border with hin and hope the religion spred to him so he would switch to it. That way you were almost safe from attack from him. In fact different religions were most often the reason for war in civ iv.

    • Re:Great Game (Score:5, Informative)

      by Thorizdin (456032) <thorizdin@lotd.CHEETAHorg minus cat> on Friday September 24, 2010 @12:01PM (#33688296) Homepage

      I agree, but they also caught a ton of grief over it. I have acquaintances that refused to touch Civ4 specifically because of the inclusion of religion. Interestingly the people I know who felt that way fell into both the very religious (in this case fundamentalist Christians) and in the very non-religious (strident atheist in this case).

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Pojut (1027544)

        See, that makes no sense. The believers could crush the non-believers, and the non-believers could crush the believers.

        Why wouldn't they want that opportunity?

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        The objection of atheists puzzle me -- even if you hate religion, it's hard to deny the immense influence it's had on the development of civilization to this point, which is exactly the point.

        • by eln (21727)
          I don't see why an atheist would object on philosophical grounds. However, I can see why an atheist, being bombarded by religion on a daily basis in real life, would enjoy a game more if it had no religion in it. Personally, I accepted religion in the game but never really concentrated on developing it so the true impact it could have on a game was largely lost on me. The way I played the game, the religions were more of a pointless nuisance than anything else. Others who played the game differently pro
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by FauxPasIII (75900)

        -nod- I'm on the strident atheist side of the spectrum, but I loved this aspect of Civ 4. In fact, my favorite tactic was to rush and found _all_ the religions if I could manage to keep my research pumped high enough. I did so because I recognized that religion in Civ 4 works just like religion in real life; it's a great way for leaders to extract money from the population while keeping them happy and obedient. =)

    • I've seen the religion aspect criticized for mechanics reasons. It was said that religion didn't have enough of an effect on strategy and that it could be ignored completely.
  • I should be done in another 30yrs or so, barring accident, crime, LHC creating an earth-swallowing black hole, alien invasion (ET Type, not Mexican) or Pandemic.

    After that I think I'll need to rest a bit.

  • So far, I'm happy [livingwithanerd.com] with Civilization V. It took some time to get its claws in me, since I spent so much time with Civilization IV. However, now that the "getting to know you" period is ending and the "I know you" period is starting, I can see myself getting just as engrossed in this one as I did with previous entries in the series.

  • Another 8/10? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Lunix Nutcase (1092239) on Friday September 24, 2010 @11:58AM (#33688254)

    Soulskill's reviews score is mostly meaningless because probably 3/4ths of his reviews are 8/10. This was 8/10, Halo Reach was 8/10, Dragon Age: Origins was 8/10. Champions Online got an 8/10. I could go on. While he occasionally goes down to 7/10 or sometimes up to 9/10, probably 95% or more of his reviews are an above average score which makes his scale meaningless. It's like the review sites that give every game at least a 9/10 no matter how much criticism they give of it.

    • by Andy Smith (55346)

      Perhaps the best thing to do would be to submit your own reviews?

    • So then the scale is 1/3 2/3 3/3 and he hasnt had a crappy enough game for 0/3.
    • That's the problem with a 10 point scale. 8 vs. 9 seems like a big difference. You can't give a game a 10. Ever. Then you have no were to go if a better game comes along, but with that you run into the same issue with a 9. If you give a game a 9 then no game can ever be rated higher than it.

      If they would use a 100 point scale (10 point scale with decimals is the same thing) then you can be a little more flexible with your reviews.

      • by daid303 (843777)

        You can't give a game a 10.

        Portal.

        • You can't even give Portal a 10. I love Portal. I've played through it many times and everytime enjoy it just as much as I did the first time. That still doesn't mean it's the perfect game and there can never be a better game. As awesome as a game as it is, it still had flaws just like every game ever made.

          • by Triv (181010)

            "As awesome as a game as it is, it still had flaws just like every game ever made." ...yeah? Name one.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by rsborg (111459)

            That still doesn't mean it's the perfect game and there can never be a better game.

            I seriously hope to god you're not grading papers at an educational institution. If grades were based on all past and all future possibilities, no one would ever get an A, let alone an A+.

            Fact is, your understanding of the meaning of a grading scale is impossible to implement and not very useful to boot. Grades are subjective... when you're comparing to an infinite space (ie, all future games), you're attenuating your scale

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        But this one goes to 11.
    • Re:Another 8/10? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by kevinNCSU (1531307) on Friday September 24, 2010 @12:35PM (#33688682)

      Perhaps since he isn't getting paid to write the review and likely has neither infinite time nor money like most customers he's probably capable of discerning what is crap before he spends his time and money on it and therefore doesn't? If he was a gaming magazine that was responsible for reviewing ALL games then your parroting the ancient concerns over the media's game reviews would be on target, but since he's only responsible for reviewing the games he wants to play AND review anyways, it's no surprise the games usually register in the upper end of his scale.

      • Perhaps since he isn't getting paid to write the review and likely has neither infinite time nor money like most customers he's probably capable of discerning what is crap before he spends his time and money on it and therefore doesn't? If he was a gaming magazine that was responsible for reviewing ALL games then your parroting the ancient concerns over the media's game reviews would be on target, but since he's only responsible for reviewing the games he wants to play AND review anyways, it's no surprise the games usually register in the upper end of his scale.

        Exactly what I was thinking. If I had mod points I'd spend one on this.

    • Re:Another 8/10? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Aladrin (926209) on Friday September 24, 2010 @12:37PM (#33688718)

      That would be true if he reviewed every game that comes out.

      It appears he only reviews games that he thinks will be good, so the reviews will tend towards the higher end of the scale.

    • Re:Another 8/10? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by raddan (519638) * on Friday September 24, 2010 @12:38PM (#33688734)
      I look forward to your many in-depth reviews of games you don't like to play.

      The content of this website is provided for free by enthusiasts. A little self-selection in certain topics is inevitable.
    • by thomst (1640045)

      Soulskill's reviews score is mostly meaningless because probably 3/4ths of his reviews are 8/10. This was 8/10, Halo Reach was 8/10, Dragon Age: Origins was 8/10. Champions Online got an 8/10. I could go on. While he occasionally goes down to 7/10 or sometimes up to 9/10, probably 95% or more of his reviews are an above average score which makes his scale meaningless. It's like the review sites that give every game at least a 9/10 no matter how much criticism they give of it.

      Has it occurred to you that perhaps he only bothers to write detailed reviews for games he likes? And that 8/10 is pretty much the minimum level of enjoyment he requires to motivate him to go to the trouble of writing a review?

    • by ADRA (37398)

      Maybe they're only reviewing games they want to play? That would definitely skew the results across the board. Frankly Slashdot reviews are only relevant to me at all because of the comments.

  • Can it be played online, in multi-player mode?

    Please forgive my noob-ness. I've never played civ. Looks great.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Pojut (1027544)

      It can, but you'll be best served playing with people you know. Civilization IV LANs provided some of my most memorable gaming moments (not the most memorable, but a few that rank fairly high)

      If you know anyone else that plays it, you should definitely get into it with them. Multiplayer Civ + friends = unforgettable weekend.

    • Can it be played online, in multi-player mode? Please forgive my noob-ness. I've never played civ. Looks great.

      Well in civ 4 they had a fantastic side app called pitboss that made it easy to set up multiplayer games. It was pretty much a server, and you could have it email players when it was their turn. It also made it so you could have everyone jump into and out of the game whenever and not fear that the game would be lost. I've heard that within a month or two this will also be coming to civ V along with hot-seat and play by email. pbem games were essentially emailing the save file around between the players.

      I

  • by Shivetya (243324) on Friday September 24, 2010 @12:01PM (#33688294) Homepage Journal

    its bad, real bad. Turns take too long to process, which is really bad when many people don't have anything to do but click next turn but one or two do have something. It can take minutes after everyone has clicked. Don't crash while in MP, sometimes its easy to get back in other times... Multi player also has animations hard coded to be off.

    As for the intro movie, pressing ENTER skips it, once it bothers to read the keyboard. Otherwise edit the user config file found under documents section of Windows. There are some other settings in the ini files that cannot be adjusted anywhere else, as in, not even the game UI provides access.

    I have it up and running on my iMac through boot camp, while I can start off max resolution and features it does chug as you fill in the map. Apparently they animate what is off screen too!

    Outside of the multi player my real hangup is the mini map, looks like MS Paint was used. Many of us thought it was obvious place holder, but alas it is still here! Minor nits include not being able to adjust any video settings while playing the game. It takes like four clicks to start a game, as in just to get to the CIV game itself. Seems Steam wants to step in the way every chance it can, even offline. Some nation specials are pretty whack, if played right you can just roll over anything. City States while nice are a great source of workers early on, usually safe to steal one per, the squash which ever City State has an annoying personality. Best hint, leave space for barbarians near them so you get free rep for occasionally bopping the barbarians.

    You do not need Steam to play the game nor do you need the DVD. You do need Steam to install it. I don't even let it start anymore, I do not need "buy this game spam" every time I exit to the desktop. I do not need the cheesy achievements and my play uploaded. Which btw, if you load a mod your ineligible for achievements, so don't even go for that clock mod.

    Most common issues, can't install the game past Steam, can't run in DX9 more or maybe not in DX11 mode (its much better in DX9), various animation or graphics artifacts, CTDs, and other typical from new releases. The manual is electronic only.

  • Strategy games aren't underrepresented. There aren't as many of them on the market, sure, but they make up for that in depth. There are already too many strategy games on the market for any one player to master, just one good game can consume your gaming time for years.

  • My version crashes frequently. One of its favorite places to crash is when I try to save my game. Thank goodness it has the autosave files.

    • by ckthorp (1255134)
      That reminds me of Mac System 6.x which loved to crash on save or print. But there was none of this "autosave" business so save your butt.
  • Not buying (Score:2, Insightful)

    by greenbird (859670)

    As much as I'd love purchasing this game I refuse for one reason: DRM. I refuse to buy a product that someone else gets to decide whether I can use it or not.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Mr.Intel (165870)
      So work around it. Buy it, but install the cracked version and play to your hearts content. It's a bit of a catch-22, though. Still supporting the company that DRM's things using a third party, but getting to play an awesome game... Good luck figuring that out.
      • by Abstrackt (609015)

        So work around it. Buy it, but install the cracked version and play to your hearts content. It's a bit of a catch-22, though. Still supporting the company that DRM's things using a third party, but getting to play an awesome game... Good luck figuring that out.

        Sometimes going without something you don't want means going without something you do want. If someone buys a game with DRM they create the impression that DRM is acceptable whether they choose crack it or not.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Ace170780 (1221898)
      WTF are you talking about. It uses Steam. You can play online or offline and doesn't hinder you playing in anyway. Get off your high horse.
      • Re:Not buying (Score:5, Insightful)

        by wjousts (1529427) on Friday September 24, 2010 @12:41PM (#33688750)
        Doesn't hinder you until you need to reinstall it and Steam doesn't exist anymore. People are still playing the first Civilization; luckily the down defunct Microprose didn't have DRM servers back then.
      • Re:Not buying (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Mr.Intel (165870) <mrintel173@NOsPAm.yahoo.com> on Friday September 24, 2010 @12:45PM (#33688802) Homepage Journal
        Sure, it doesn't hinder my playing. Outside of that, what if I want to resell it? I can't because it's tied to my Steam account. What if I go to reinstall it on my PC in 2020 and Steam doesn't exist? What if I can't access my Steam account because it was hacked, i lost my password, or for some other reason? $50 down the drain...
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by jjohnson (62583)

          These seem like really silly arguments insofar as the risk of their potential is small, and you'll almost certainly be done with the game long before any of them happen.

          Look at it in terms of dollars spent per hours of entertainment. A movie in the theater costs around $6/hour; renting it is $2/hour. A nice meal in a restaurant is around $20/hour. Going skiing for the day? Easily over $20/hour, depending.

          So if you buy Civ V, play it for fifty hours, and then lose it in a Steam implosion, you've payed ab

      • Re:Not buying (Score:5, Insightful)

        by mc moss (1163007) on Friday September 24, 2010 @01:12PM (#33689118)

        No need to be dismissive. Whether you like it or not, Steam is DRM. I also refuse to buy any game that requires Steam.

  • New combat (Score:4, Interesting)

    by imgod2u (812837) on Friday September 24, 2010 @12:36PM (#33688698) Homepage

    While I love the new combat system, the AI is simply incapable of playing it well. It would seem that even in this day and age, the idea of forming a front-line to protect your ranged units is something a computer can't grasp. I don't think we'll need to worry about Skynet anytime soon.

  • Turn-based strategy is an underrepresented genre of video games. Perhaps it's because they aren't as flashy, or aren't as embedded in the public consciousness as the more popular types of games. Or maybe because it's so damn hard to build them right.

    I was so set to love freeciv when I heard about it, then I found out the hard way that it wasn't turn based. People attacked me on _my_ turns. WTF? Apparently the concept of turn-based games was too hard for freeciv devs.

  • DRM? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by wjousts (1529427)
    No mention of the Steam DRM? Seems like an important piece of information for those of us that don't like to have to ask permission to play our games.
  • i find the gameplay to be excellent, but the game itself is unstable.

    i run it on a dual-head hp desktop with a 1.86ghz processor, 3g of ram, and an nvidia geforce 9400 gt. i'm using windows 7 pro, fully patched, with dx11 and the steam version of the game installed. it's not a great machine, but it certainly should be adequate to play this game in single-player mode.

    it's not. it often crashes during game in initialization, and randomly in the middle of the game, and it doesn't seem to matter if it's in dx9

  • This and many other reviews downplay the effect of social policies. If done right, I'd say each social policy is worth between 1 and 3 wonders built..
    • Could you elaborate? I'll admit I don't really 'get' the strategy of social policies that well yet.

      Granted, I'm still working my way through my first game. Newborns and Civ are not a good combination.

  • by timster (32400) on Friday September 24, 2010 @01:10PM (#33689080)

    You know, after Starcraft II I actually forgot that most games didn't release on the Mac until months later. I've noticed that the third suggestion on Google for "civ 5" is "civ 5 mac", beating out even "civ 5 torrent". Just sayin'.

  • by snarfies (115214) on Friday September 24, 2010 @01:10PM (#33689096) Homepage

    I've owned every Civ game since the original. I've sunk hundreds of hours into each iteration of the game since to 1990s. I will not be buying Civ5, because I can't "buy" it, I can only "rent" it via Steam. I do not purchase any software that requires online activation of any form. If I need somebody's permission to play, forget it. Sure, I know there are probably cracks already, but that isn't the point. When (not IF, WHEN) Steam ceases to exist someday, anyone who owns this will own a useless plastic disc.

    • by Pulzar (81031) on Friday September 24, 2010 @01:49PM (#33689644)

      This post is a carbon copy post of dozens of similar ones, I'm not sure what's so insightful about this point of view any more.

      Sure, I know there are probably cracks already, but that isn't the point. When (not IF, WHEN) Steam ceases to exist someday, anyone who owns this will own a useless plastic disc.

      What's the point, then? Until Steam ceases to exist, I, and others who own it, will be play a fun game. When Steam ceases to exist, I'll use the crack. I'm not really sure what else do you want.

  • by Orga (1720130) on Friday September 24, 2010 @01:39PM (#33689472)
    I have a feeling we're going to see new leaders sold as well, with new traits. I remember in CIV IV everything was customizable, a lot of that appears lacking in V, I assume to boost sales through add-ons
  • Disappointed! :( (Score:4, Informative)

    by euroq (1818100) on Friday September 24, 2010 @04:15PM (#33691472)

    As a long time Civ player (yes longtime... I think it's common place for everyone to think Civ 2 was the best, although there are definite welcome improvements in the later games), I'm sadly disappointed.

    The good

    1. You no longer need transports to cross oceans, which is AWESOME. And it was implemented very well. I had a few frigates which hammered down and destroyed most of Catherine of Russia's fleet of pikemen and knights coming to invade my shores, once I destroyed her only assisting caravels. Also late game it was easy to click an infantry man to an island somewhere for some reason. It used to be annoying and detrimental to the fun of the game when you had to move a transport vessel from far away, taking up many turns, just to get to a unimportant part of your empire for one measly unit to transport the infantry man to wherever I needed to go.

    2. Your 21st century cities don't automatically get capped by a Pikeman anymore. Finally. The cities themselves have health points and ranged attacks. Awesome, and it worked great in my game. When trying to invade Egypt and deep into their territory, my invading armies would get hammered by the cities before i even made it to their walls.

    3. The Social progression is a really cool way to let you customize your play style, other than simply choosing a civilization trait. I loved it so much that my next game will be completely focused on culture.

    4. You may not think the "only 1 tile per square" thing is cool, but after you actually play it, it is great and adds a cool strategic value that didn't exist before. Invading through a mountain pass was very hard.

    The bad

    1. The game just feels so slow. I'm not talking about FPS, I'm talking about scrolling, zooming, clicking items, making orders, menus. There's always a half-second to sometimes more than a second delay, even when you've got 30 FPS or more. If you thought that you were about to click on "Unit needs orders" you might be wrong, because the UI might not be updated to "Next turn" and BAM! You just clicked the wrong thing! The Help menu is accessible via a tiny font "help" in the corner of the screen, hard to navigate to. I didn't see any key shortcuts for menu items (i.e. demographics), and I looked. If they exist, they've been changed from previous civs. It really changes the feel and excitement of the game when you feel like you're crawling instead of running through the ages.

    2. Quicksave is F11, Quickload is F12. Please don't make me explain why this is a stupid fucking idea.

    3. The age progression is bad. In the regular game that I played, you simply didn't have enough time to improve your cities and build armies. It was one or the other. Building a knight takes 10 turns, building a Temple takes 10 turns. You either have to choose to build armies or one or two city improvements. If you are next to a hostile civilization, you have no choice but to build armies, and ignore your city improvements. It's hard to explain, but you never felt like you had enough time to get anything done. By the time you could build something, it was obsolete. I mean, you could research your way through an age in 40 turns, but it would take 100 turns just to build 1 item from everything in the age.

    4. Great People aren't that powerful; I ended up always using them for Golden Ages. Maybe I am speaking too soon, as I haven't played enough.

    5. It was SO frustrating that you could not preview how far a ranged unit could fire. The reason it was so frustrating is that some units require you to set them up (i.e. before they fire, you have to use one of their moves). Apparently it is affected by mountains and other terrain. So it's really hard to tell. It doesn't even tell you the range in the tooltip. (BTW, I may be wrong about this).

    6. It crashes on startup when I changed the video settings in the previous game. You have to clear out the .ini files in the app's data folder.

    Other stuff

You are in a maze of little twisting passages, all alike.

Working...