I loved Civilization, LOVED Civ2, and enjoyed Civ3. I never played Civ4, though, since I didn’t like Civ3 as much as Civ2, and the reviews and word of mouth about 4 said “more of the same with better graphics.” as a result, I actually wasn’t all that hyped for Civ5 to come out either, but in the past bit since it came out I’ve begun reading other bloggers ( including but not limited to the “dueling” Syncaine and Tobold, as well as The Ancient Gaming Noob), and they’ve had good enough things to say that I decided to take the plunge. According to Steam, I’ve played 53 hours of it now and have a few finished games under my belt, so I think I can give a decent-ish review that’s better than Eurogamer quality. . . . .
- The Good: The graphics are gorgeous! It’s a hex-based tile system now. Military units are limited to 1 per tile. Ranged units actually have ranged attacks! And yeah, it’s got that whole “1 more turn” addictiveness that’s kept me up to 4 in the morning twice already since I’ve gotten it.
- The Bad: Diplomacy still sucks. You have a lot of options and it’s a nice slick interface, but you don’t have any indication of a) how they feel about you, b) how they feel about other civs, or c) how your actions affect your standings.
- The Ugly: Getting satellite technology doesn’t reveal the unexplored map nor remove the fog of war. Seriously?
- The New: Pre-existent City-States populate the map from the get-go and have some interesting abilities they can give you. Or you can just look at them as “free cities!” if you’ve got 3-4 military units going after them. Also, your own cities are now considered a military unit with double hit points of a mobile unit and range to boot. Roads are now a money drain rather than a money source (unless you connect to your capital, in which case it’s a trade route) so you build as few as possible. Railroads don’t provide unlimited movement anymore, but do give a 50% production bonus to all cities connected via rail to the capital, so tey’re still worth building, though again…. 2 gold per space per turn, so build as few as possible.
- The Most Excellent: No more pollution of corruption! Thank you for finally letting me just play the game!
Okay, now with the bullet points out of the way. . . .I’ve only played on level 1 and 2 so far. Since I didn’t play Civ4 and wasn’t familiar with some of the things (culture anyone?) from that game, I decided to go easy on myself as I eased in to the game. TBH, I can’t say I’ve noticed any difference in the game behavior in the change in levels, only in the numbers that you need to reach to pass milestones, eg for your 1st Social Policy you need 10 culture at level 1, but 15 when playing at level 2. I assume level 3 will need 20, level 4 would be 25, etc… and then everything else scales from the starting point, so the late milestones are farther apart.
I’ve found that my old “build tons of cities as fast as possible and never stop expanding” style of play doesn’t really work in this version of the game. Not unless you set the game up to not have any city-states and turn off barbarians, which I may do at some point in the future, but haven’t yet. Ya see, the city-states sprinkle the map and the way it’s designed, each civ has about enough room to build 3-4 cities before being hemmed in. This isn’t hard and fast, you can often skirt around the edges, but if you do, then you’ll probably be bumping up against another civilization and that causes its own issues. So far, the most I’ve been able to build without needing to go to war with someone is 6 cities, but usually 3-4 is it.
You also kinda need to pick a win condition that you want and then to play to that. The maintenance costs of your buildings is such that if you try to build everything, you’re going to be having money issues. so, if you want to conquer the world, focus on military buildings. If you want to win a cultural victory, then focus on the Monument, Temples, Opera Houses, and Museums, but leave the rest and trust your diplomats to keep you out of war. And so on.
This is already getting long, so I won’t go in to a ton of detail, about other gameplay elements, I’ll just repeat what I said before: I got the game on Sunday, it’s now Friday and while some of the time has been AFK, the majority of the 53 hours Steam says is for real, and I’ts kept me up to at least 1:00 each night since. . .and to 4 am twice. Yeah, it’s fun. Can’t really define why, it just is.
But let me tell you about the 1st time I stayed up until 4. I looked through the achievement list Steam provides and saw one called “Bollywood.” I checked it so see what it was and you gain it by playing as India, building 3 or fewer cities, and then winning a cultural victory. I decided to try that. It was definitely a new experience. I focused all my social policies on getting as much culture as possible, focused my technology research toward tech that gave buildings to increase my culture, and used research agreements with everyone I could find to fill in the gaps. I gave “open borders” to everyone so that my scouts could explore the world, then focused on gaining ally status with the Cultured city-states for the bonus culture per turn, as well as the food bonus from the Maritime ones in order to let my cities grow as fast as they could (hey, it’s India — that’s my civ bonus!). I was surprised at how fun it was to just watch everything go on around me while the thought went through the back of my mind “Ha! You won’t know what hit you!” the whole time. And that’s why I stayed up until 4 to finish the game, rather than saving and playing again the next day.
So anyway… I could write more, but… I wanna go play again.