For a few days now Civilization 5 has been occupying a lot of my free time and I can see it occupy a lot more in the following days. Unlike other reviews I tend to I won’t go into details over what the Civilization series is all about, namely building an empire and winning the game through conquest,science,diplomacy or culture. Instead I will go over the differences of this entry and a few points I think are important.
This is the main change in Civ5. Unlike the previous game, the developers have taken a lot of time to streamline everything and make it easily understandable. If your citizens are unhappy you only have to mouse over your rating to see the details of why your unhappy. When you attack a unit the games make it clear how the fight should go. Icons are intuitive and you’re not constantly checking how to do X or Y. The game still retains its incredible depth but for once I don’t have to read online guides to be able to play.
Culture is probably one of the area that saw the biggest changes in this game. Instead of the old religion system and a cryptic influence rating, you now accumulate culture points and spend them much like you would for research. Once you get enough point you can buy a new culture upgrade for your civ that will affect anything from city growth, to production to your relations to city-states.
Another addition is the city-states. City-states are neutral one-city nation who are not out to win the game. If you are willing to you can try to gain their loyalty and they will provide you with units, culture, gold and even science if you pick the right culture upgrades. They will join wars with you and can provide very useful distraction and even save you.
Wich victory you aim for will determine a lot how you want to interact with them. Culture and diplomatic victories nearly requires you to befriend those nations while science and military victories have no need of them. In fact if you’re going for a military victory you will probably have to eliminate quite a few of them.
I didn’t like them much at first but over time I’m finding city-states add a lot of variety to the game and are great trump-card that can switch the balance of power at critical points.
A huge change to military strategist out there, Civ5 doesn’t allow you to stack units together on the same tile. This has a lot of ramifications but the main impact is that you will have to pay a lot more attention to terrain and that ranged units become a lot more important. Warfare in previous Civ games was mostly a case of out-producing your opponent and while it’s still important to have sufficient units a smaller force can win with smart movement and deployment.
The AI is aggressive and plays to win
This is the most surprising part so far and it needs some getting used to. Every single civ out there, no matter the difficulty level or personality will annihilate you if given the chance. Even on the lower difficulty settings, if you don’t have much of an army expect an army to come knocking at your door when the computer sees an opportunity.
Close to winning the game with science? Watch as they all band together, bribe the city states and send the whole world against you. You can be nice to them as much as you want but if you show weakness or are taking a lead they will do their best to knock you down. Even Ghandi will very pacifically nuke your cities. At least he will be polite while doing so.
The game is a monster to run
The real downside to Civ5 is how much it demands out of your computer. My brother has trouble running the game at all on his laptop. I have a beast of a computer and I’m running it in directx9. Even then the game slows down in the later stages of the game and some textures don’t load right away. If you do plan to buy this game, take the time to check if you can run it. Firaxis has already promised patches to fix these issues (already delivered one!) but time will tell if they can truly fix them.
The monkey recommends
Buy it! Seriously, if you can run this game and have some interest in the genre run to the store and buy it. To me it’s one of the best entry in the series if not the best one and worth every penny. Just make sure you don’t start playing too late because your sleep might suffer.
The monkey like:
-Game set-up options, allows for a lot of choice
-The new culture set-up
-Non-stacking units, makes for better warfare
-Crazy AI, makes for lively games
The monkey disliked:
-Bugs in generals, display bugs, sound bugs and other annoying bugs. Nothing gamebreaking but it’s annoying.
-Ressource hog. It’s not normal this game takes this much memory to run. I suspect shoddy programming.
-Not enough leaders. I suspect they will add more but more leaders would be even better!
The monkey hated:
-Having to watch the damned intro every time. Instead of showing you a loading screen the game let the intro play until ready to start. I get they wanted to show me a better screen than “loading” but the next time I hear the old man talk about “lush,fertile land”, I will strangle him.