I’ve been playing Sid Meier’s Civilization 5 a lot lately, which includes my lack of updates. While playing it, I discovered that “hey! I can do a terrible review of this game!” So here we are. You with your natty ice and me with my somber demeanor. Should you go out and buy this game? Probably not. Will you after this review? Probably not. Is there any reason for it other than to update you on my world conquest progress? Nope. WILL IT STOP ME??? Eh.
Civilization 5, as you can imagine, is the 5th installment of the popular Civilization series that started back in the early 90s. I remember the first game fondly and still have the SNES version of it, which is equally fun. Hell, my greatest memory of that game was having an entire island, the size of Australia, to myself and spammed cities everywhere. No other civilization could even land because every tile was either taken up by a city or an unit. I don’t think I won, but damn it, my island was impregnable!
After Civilization, Sid Meier and his team blew everyone’s mind with Civilization II, which was my most played video game in my youth. It was the first in the installment to have a mod community around it. People flocked to change stories, add units, alter gameplay, create their own graphics, etc. I bought that game two or three times depending on how often they released the “super deluxe gold edition that possibly cures cancer and aids together!” The game was a massive step up from Civilization I and provided weeks of fun. My favorite mod was a Spartacus one where you had goals and missions set for a number of turns. For example, you had to snatch this gold reserve by turn 34 or something or you lose. It was fun.
Civilization III, for me, is the unloved middle child in the series. It was drastically different from Civilization II, which for many, was heresy. However, it had radical new gameplay ideas that was later adopted and tweaked later. Instead of having just cities everywhere, they can build culture which builds into your borders. YOu can have two cities, but with enough culture, your civilization could encompass two or three times the area. There were other features like AIs getting more of a personality, such as them enjoying the company of those from similar surroundings. Citizens/units/cities retained their original nationality until assimilated. If you took over a foreign city, the citizens will retain that culture until new folks of your civilization start popping up. Not sure why, but I enjoyed that. There were also “armies” in which you can combine two or more units together, becoming a super-unit. It was interesting, to say the least. Civ IV tweaks the idea a bit later.
Like I said, a bunch of cool ideas. Sadly, the only fond memory I have of the game is the SOUL CRIPPLING CORRUPTION for cities. Oh and JUNGLES that caused them. You see, if you build your post-capital cities, they get corruption based on far they are. Also, jungles help create more. With enough corruption, you start to lose production within those cities, turning them completely useless. When the game first came out, corruption was rampant and made the game unplayable for me. Several years later, I have the Civ III complete edition, with the expansions included. It’s $10. I should install it and kick it around a bit.
After the disappointment of Civ III, there was Civilization IV, herald as the best installment of the series to date (including Civ 5 which I will get to later). Reworked from the ground up, made mod-friendly, incorporated a relatively stable multiplayer capability (well moreso than the others), intriguing gameplay ideas, this game had it all. It surpassed Civilization II as my favorite and as the game that took over my soul. I love this game so much that I use to watch Let’s Play videos on youtube, which never happens. The took the ideas introduced in Civ III and tweaked them to become more in-depth. The borders are used almost like a weapon, obtaining resources before others can by manipulating cultural output so it’ll cover up the area faster than enemies. The AI personalities received an overall. Nearly every Civilization leader (52 of them after the last expansion) has their traits and ticks. Montezuma is a bloodthirsty savage that loves war, but isn’t smart enough to upgrade his units well. Gandhi is a peace loving guy who is hated by everyone. Catherine of Russia will betray you no matter how much she likes you, etc. Also, Religion was introduced, though it was basic and bland. Having a religion helped with culture, the economy, and AI relations, but it was tame in that they were essentially all the same. I can understand why, but I’m still disappointed by it. There were many more fun features that I will explore if I ever do a Civ IV review (this is still a Civ 5 review!)
Despite the cool features, there were many complaints about the game, as well. The biggest one, from me, is that combat was reduced to how many units you brought, specifically siege weapons, to a battle. The only strategy was: send as many units as you can to take over cities, instead of strategy. It was boring and cumbersome. TOo much of my time was spent sending huge armies across maps only to meet even bigger armies waiting for me. It was awful. The graphics were also a turn-off, especially when the computer I was using was incredibly outdated. The 2nd expansion was a letdown and I remember being soured by it. The features added were meaningless and a waste of money. In fact, when Civ IV was released, it was incredibly bug ridden to the point that I could not get into it until the patches and fixes. Lots of crashes and errors and what not. It took a few smoothing out patches to get it stable.
The last complaint is very important as Civilization 5 is currently in that state. It’s only a few weeks old, so I can understand, but man are the bugs there. Thankfully, they are on top with the patches and released two within the first week of release. That’s a hell of a lot better than the prior game. The main issues, for me, include the fact that I cannot start a new game without first exiting and restarting the client. Also, when I do exit, there’s a popup saying Civ 5 didn’t close properly and what not. It’s quite annoying. The graphics are a little intensive for my terrible computer, but I came to terms with that and purchased the game fully knowing that it probably would not even play on it. There are many bugs present, but not huge enough to keep me from playing, yet. On the plus side, patches and expansions and what not will be able to fix the technical problems. As for gameplay, not so sure.
Like previous installments, this game continued the tradition of tweaking past features and introducing new ones. Borders are still here, same with siege, unit promotions, etc, but all with a different flavor. Cities don’t *need* to be inside the civilization’s borders and connected to the capital to share resources which is nice. You can plop a new city by a resource, work on it, and bam, everyone has it. No more outposts from Civ III or simple road connections from Civ IV. Completely changed from all prior games is that units, whether foe or friend, cannot share/land on the same tile. No more armies from Civ III or stacking from Civ IV. One military unit per tile. This is a wonderful change of pace and allows for more strategic battles, as opposed to the meat-grinding style of the past. Non-combat units such as workers and settlers are able to share tiles with combat units, but not with each other. Speaking of tiles, they are hexagonal now! After nearly 2 decades of square tiles, Sid Meier and co. decided to switch to hexagonal. It’s quite an experience and definitely needs some getting use to. It’s a great change, in my opinion, though.
They took out religion, the capability to have vassals and overseas colonies, but they did introduce city-states, which are basically a cross between barbarians and civilizations. They only have one city and don’t really aim to win the game, per se, but they fairly resiliant and provide benefits with those who treat them right. Alexander the Great of Greece even has his unique abilities based around them. They provide a nice change of pace from the random barabarian cities of the past and complete civilizations. You can either be a dick and conquer them all or be a dick and buy them all off and make them all your allies, to keep other Civs from benefitting or you can be a dick and liberate them from others. There are only 3 different types, but with their personality sects, they seem different. They’re fun.
Hmm, I’m running out of steam with this review, so it’s time to rush through shit.
Bah, I don’t even have the energy to rush through this. Hmm… well, units can now transport themselves over water. You do not need to get a boat. That’s an awesome change. Unfortunately, to balance this, units swimming across water are vulnerable and can easily be destroyed by enemies. Yay. Leader of Songhai gets a bonus to those units.
Uh anyway, Civilization 5 just came out and it’s a fun game. However, with the bug ridden release, I would recommend that any non-fan should hold off a bit. It would only cause frustration. However, for longtime fans, go out and buy this now. Buy the deluxe edition to get Babylon, who are awesome and unfair with their science bonuses.