Civilization 5 Review – Bring On The Domination

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Yes, number five! The Civilization series is one of the most successful strategy games of all time.

It is a turn –based strategy title that revolves around building up a legendary civilization to tower above the others. It functions on diverse playing field laid out in a hexagonal grid system. This is one of the first major changes in Civilization, which has always functioned in a square grid system

Read our full review, after the jump.

by Marius van der Merwe

Civilization has always been known to be a patient and deep game. You progress your empire from a single city to ruling over a whole continent or even the world (if you are that ambitious). It teaches you a lot in decisions making, history and resource management. The game is enormous in content. You play from the ancient era of basic agriculture to the future times of nanotechnology. Number V is more simplified and the AI handles a lot of your management tasks, unless you specify them. The simplification did take away some of the depth in knowing how the game play functions. This, however, does make the game more friendly and should also attract more types of players

Civilization V is much easier to understand and has a better learning curve. Various Advisors guide you in your choices, and also give you information on potential opportunities. Now this might amaze you and scare you at the same time, but Civilization V has a built in encyclopaedia called the Civilopedia. This database contains information on everything. Not just every concept and term relative to the game, but also small history lessons about pretty much anything with historical value. History can be boring, but playing the game and then reading the history behind it was very interesting. Civilizations have up to a few pages of history on them and where they currently are in time. Well worth the read. The database has a search function for quick access, but one should not rely on this to take you to the right place.

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Getting into the game:

There are no campaigns or story missions. The game is about starting your own journey, forging your civilization the way you want to. You can win in more than one way: Through culture, diplomacy, score, science or good old world domination. There are 18 different civilizations to choose from. Each one has a unique trait that provides a passive bonus, along with two unique units or buildings. After picking your starting civilization and customizing starting conditions, you are taken to a loading screen. This screen has a brief summary your civilization history and attributes. Once you have loaded, you are randomly placed with a warrior and settler on a completely unexplored map. You pick a nice spot to start your first city and go out with your warrior to explore the lands. Meanwhile, your city produces buildings or units over the turns and so, your civilization finds its roots and begins to grow.

There are a few factors that determine the growth of your civilization. They are happiness, culture, wealth and science. Happiness is largely determined by your population and number of cities. Increase these and your happiness level declines. Let it decline too much and your growth is
affected, even more and your military and production suffers considerably. Happiness can be gained by obtaining more variety in luxury resources or building specific buildings to name a few. Science determines the rate at which you obtain new technologies. Wealth is basically your income and gold. With gold you can maintain larger armies and better buildings, or even purchase them if you are really wealthy. Culture expands your city borders and allows you to adopt new policies. These policies provide some vital bonuses.

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You will need resources to increase your civilization value. Resources are either luxury, strategic or bonus resources. Luxury resources play a huge role in your happiness factor and gold income. Strategic resources like horses and iron are required to train certain units. Bonus resources simply provide bonuses to your city. Resources are crucial to reach victory. They play a big role in determine where to expand or who to attack.

Civilization V has a new concept called City states. City states are a very interesting addition to Civilization series. They are independent cities with their own borders. These states don’t expand and aren’t aggressive. They will defend themselves if necessary. I was at first a bit suspicious about city states. I thought they would just get in the way of my ever expanding empire. However they ended up being a great new mechanic to the game.

How much city states affect you, depends on your influence level with them. You can increase influence by either paying gold or helping them out in their quests. Be it killing accessing resources among others. If your influence is strong enough, they provide your civilization with bonuses to either growth, military, culture, and provide you with access to resources. I found these bonuses to be very helpful. Sometimes I would win over some influence quickly, making them give me luxury resources that in turn, boost my civilization happiness. When I was waging war with Germany, we had two city states between us. Their military support gave me just the edge I needed to press in and take down their capital. Your influence does decline over time though.

One of the most exciting times in the game at the start when you take my first steps: Walking into the unknown lands around you, meeting new neighbours and hunting down ruins. For the first part of the game you will most likely be defending against barbarians and expanding a few more cities. Conflicts arise quite early between neighbouring civilizations, often triggering war…

This brings the combat part of the game to focus. During the first part of the game, you have three basic types of units: Ranged, melee and mounted. Melee units are your basic ground units. Ranged units can attack freely from a distance without receiving defensive damage. Mounted units can move after they have attacked. Your range units will be consisting of some siege units as well. Siege units requires setup before they can attack, but they do devastating damage. The key is to protect siege units, since they are much weaker in defending than other unit types. Later on, the introduction of naval and air units adds some new flavour and strategy. Each era has about 8-10 different units.

The terrain plays a huge role in combat. For example, rivers and hills provide strength modifiers where hills also provide bonus sight and block range attacks among other things. Using your units appropriately with the terrain makes the difference between winning and losing. In the early game, losing a unit unnecessarily may put you back a few turns, especially if it allows the enemy to enter your borders. In the previous titles, units could stack on one tile, but in Civilization V it has been done away with. It felt like a super improvement. No stacking meant that you had to position your units much more carefully, and that chokes and city combat were much more significant. I felt the new combat system to be very clever.

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The AI: Quite an important aspect of the game. Throughout your journey you will always be interacting with other civilizations. I found the computer players to be very ‘grumpy’ mostly. The computer players are seldom scared of you and threaten you whenever you get close to them.

When doing diplomatic relations, you are confronted with a new interface. In here you can trade resources and gold, or discuss war and peace. A research agreement allows both players to receive new technologies after some time. One thing I found to be really annoying when trading, was when you are rich in resources, they AI player tends to want everything or nothing. Simply spend all your gold or decrease resources and you can hit the same deal with much less to give in turn.

Speaking with my neighbour of the Siamese nation Civilization V just feels much more convenient and less tedious than its previous versions. The interface has been simplified, the graphics is good, and some of the artwork is quite awesome. It seemed colourful and well polished. It does suffer on medium to low machines though. Zooming out eats computer resources, and the AI can get intense in the late game.

I particularly adored some of the artwork on Wonders. Whenever you have built a World Wonder, a breathtaking art image appears of the wonder along with a quote and your new bonuses. Wonders take forever to build, but when the popup comes, it feels like a genuine achievement.

The soundtrack is quite impressive. The background music goes with your nation and its era. The music does not get old and is quite a good listen when playing such a lengthy game. Every action makes a distinctive sound effect.

I did experience game crashes quite frequently, but after the latest patches they decreased in frequency. Changing the auto save option to save every turn helps, but it doesn’t stop you from growing a bit angry every time. It takes a while to start the Civilization V up and begin/load a game, but once you are in, you can kiss a lot of hours goodbye.

All in all, I was very impressed by the game. The game can be very slow, and a standard game can take you days to finish. The only real factors that made me frown were the constant game crashes at first, and the simplified feeling compared to Civilization IV.

Gameplay: 8.5

The game play is very diverse. Longer games tend to get unbalanced as players that achieve early are rewarded much more throughout the game.

Sound: 8.0

Good serene soundtrack that fits the mood and setting nicely. Sound animations are accurate, but since there is a lot of clicking in this game they get monotonous after a long while.

Presentation: 8.5

The main menu and game customization menu feels dull especially compared to what Civilization IV had. In the game however, the user interface is very friendly. With DirectX11 support, stronger machines will get some stunning views while zooming in and out.

Value: 8.5

The game has tons of replay ability. Every game you start will follow a different path. Civilization V is definitely the type of game you will pick up again in a few months or a year, and say to yourself: “ah, let’s conquer the world one more time”

Overall: 8.5

I can recommend this game to any casual gamers that likes strategy games and has a bit of patience. Civilization V is very addictive. One of the best turn-based strategy games out there.

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  • Uncle

    Just to let you guys know for some reason I can’t view page 2 of the review :sad:

  • http://www.designwave.co.za Nick de Bruyne

    Seems to have an issue, I have edited it into one long page for now

  • http://www.mitarn.co.za Sven

    Nice review! Well done Marie! :D I should actually give this game a try!

  • http://www.mintgaming.co.za merc

    As Marius did with Starcraft II, he makes me want to go out and buy the game :\ nice review

  • http://www.mintgaming.co.za Cha0tiX

    Marius is a beast reviewer :P nice read :)

  • Russ

    OMG I loved all the other Civ’s and this makes me TOO keen to play this one. :D~ Nice review.

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