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Civilization V

Score: 97%
ESRB: Everyone 10+
Publisher: 2K Games
Developer: Firaxis
Media: Download/1
Players: 1; 2 - 12 (Online/ LAN)
Genre: God Games/ Turn-Based Strategy/ Online

Graphics & Sound:

Gorgeous. A Civilization game has never looked so good. Up through the first five hundred turns of the game, I really appreciated the look of the fully modeled and animated units, the animated water texture and the dynamic clouds of the "fog of war." After the game ended on the five hundredth turn and I continued to play, however, I started having stability problems; the game would play for a couple of turns, taking a long time to compute the actions of the other players and my units set to "automatic" and then would seize up on me. I started playing about three turns and then saved and turned on the Autosave feature and even tried to keep the game set to the 2D strategic view, but when I would hit the Escape key to go to the Save Game screen, it would show the 3D display again. When it would freeze on me, I looked at Task Manager and saw that Civilization V was consuming 1.2 Gigs of memory or so. That was what was doing my system in. Mind you, this wasn't a problem for me until after the game had officially ended (500 turns), and that was on the largest map, with the highest number of allowed players and a lot of my workers doing "automated improvements." This annoys me a bit, since there was never a need for strategy games to go full 3D in the first place, given the high-altitude perspective in which they are typically played.

The audio in Civ V is extremely well done. Each world leader has voice work for dialogue, actually done in the appropriate language. Well, that is, as far as I can tell. I'm pretty good with America and England, and I can pick out some of the Rome dialogue (thanks to three semesters of Latin at LSU), but the others are Greek to me - including Greece. (Well, especially Greece.)

The music is appropriate for the civilization you're playing. I found the background music that played when you're playing as America to be very patriotic, sounding ever-so-close to various songs about America without being those songs... it had a feeling very similar to ambient music you'd expect to hear playing in Disney's Hall of Presidents. Other nations have appropriate sounding music, which tended to make my wife crave Greek or Indian food, etc. depending on the selected culture. The Greek music definitely sounded like something I've heard while eating dinner at Albasha's, a Greek restaurant we frequent.


In the immortal words of the British philosophers, Tears for Fears, "Everybody Want to Rule the World." Well, here's your chance. Civilization V really is a sandbox in which you can try your hand at building an empire of your own. Whether you want to build your war machine and roll over enemies, leaving puppet states or burnt patches of ground in your wake or you would prefer to build an amazing collection of World Wonders... or simply pack up your civilization and fly off to a literal new world, by winning the space race in a big way... the choice is yours.

One of the great things about Civ V is not only that you can make so many choices, but that you can also choose not to make decisions. Each of your units can be set to "Automatic," essentially making them A.I.-controlled on your behalf. This can come back and bite you in the end, mind you, such as when I found that I had citizens dying off in one of my cities and I kept sending a worker around to change Trading Posts into Farms until I came to realize that there were other workers on "Automatic" going behind me and building trading posts to increase my city's gold production. Which is nice and all, but you know what they say... you can't take it with you when you die.

One new twist is Policies; your civilization can now spend culture to adopt policies from ten different policy groups. Each policy group has five different policies in them, and adopting one of the policies will grant you a benefit, such as your units being 33% more effective when fighting inside of friendly territory, instantly having a Great General appear outside of your city or reducing the cost of constructing buildings. If selected carefully and strategically, these boons can greatly aid your effectiveness in the game.

For those familiar with previous incarnations of the game, there are some noteworthy differences. One of the most annoying for me was that there is no Transport ship for moving units about. This gets really aggravating when you decide you need to get a Settler to some remote location and you realize it will be forty turns before they get there. Also, the ability to Trade technologies is gone. In its stead, there is the ability to enter into research agreements with other civilizations, which gets you a technology and also ties up some funds for both civilizations (which you can use to your advantage, should you want to tighten your enemy's budget a bit), but the strategy of brokering technologies around to advance yourself isn't an option anymore. One interesting thing about unit promotion is that upgraded units keep promotions, even if that type of unit can't normally get that promotion. This might be something worth keeping in mind when planning a upgrade path for your units. Another change is that your air unit re-basing options are limited in distance. You can't simply re-locate your air units to a base anywhere in the world, you'll have to find a base within the limited (yet reasonably large) range you're allowed to re-base and then, if you need it further, re-locate the unit again.

I tried to play Multiplayer on a couple of occasions, but I was never actually able to do so. While LAN play is an option, I only have one copy locally, so Internet was my only available Multiplayer option. When trying Internet Multiplayer, I found myself selecting a game from a lobby, then either not able to finish getting the host server information or getting to the player setup screen, but not getting any further. Based on the names of the games out there being the same - and not started - for over a half hour, I'm guessing not many people are having luck with Internet Multiplayer so far. When I finally got into a Multiplayer game, I moved my two units to the East, hit "Next Turn," and the game crashed and closed. Luckily, this is a PC game, so there could very well be patches in the near future to address this issue. If so, I will follow up with details on the Multiplayer gaming experience. For now, it appears to be broken.


Those familiar with previous Civilization games will be familiar with the eight difficulty levels: Settler, Cheiftan, Warlord, Prince, King, Emperor, Immortal and Deity. Those not yet introduced to the Civilization games might be surprised at the number of difficulty settings in a world where three is the norm and five is somewhat impressive.

In addition to several different levels of difficulty, you can choose from different sized maps, from "Tiny" up through full Earth-sized maps, as well as playing against a single opponent or with all civilizations included in the fray. You can choose to play on a realistic Earth layout, a Pangea world where everyone is on a single, fused continent or a world where all of the land masses consist of a collection of islands strewn about. You can also set the pace of the game, from quick to a drawn-out game of epic proportions. All of these can be suited to taste, and each of these settings can drastically affect gameplay. It might take some experimentation to determine what best fits your gaming style, but if for example, you find that you tend to lean heavily on a strong navy, then you can use that to your advantage with the Arpeggio-style map and sail from island to island, as the terror of the seas. If you would prefer to challenge yourself a bit, you might want to play on a Pangea-stlye map, where everyone's on the same landmass and your seafaring ways won't help you much... or would they?

In addition to all of the above, there's also the selection of a civilization to control. There are 18 to choose from: America, Arabia, Aztec, China, Egypt, England, France, Germany, Greece, India, Iroquois, Japan, Ottoman, Persia, Rome, Russia, Siam and Songhai. Each nation has its own special units and game modifiers, making it different from the start when you play as the different nations. Montezuma (Aztec), for example, gains culture for every enemy unit killed, thanks to a unique trait called "Sacrificial Captives," while Ramesses II (Egypt) has a unique trait called "Monument Builders," which grants you a 20% increase in production when building Wonders.

Game Mechanics:

There's a lot here with which to play, regardless of whether you're coming from PC Civilization games, Civilization Revolution or even if Civilization V is your first introduction to the series.

The game board is hex-based, and you are restricted to a single combat unit per hex, so the strategy requires you to do more with less, rather than simply stack countless combat units in a single space. You will not only need to be mindful of movement ranges of units and firing ranges of units, but also what areas are open around your target. If you pack your units in too tight, other units may not be able to get in close enough to attack. This leads to a necessity for using a strategic blend of melee units and range attack units. And, in desperate times, also the use of your city's targeted defense. In Civilization V, cities can fire a volley against enemies within a certain range. While this isn't the most powerful of attacks, anything is better than nothing if you get caught with your troops off doing something else when your city gets attacked. It can serve as a deterrent of poorly orchestrated attacks or can serve as a nice free addition to a more robust city defense.

Diplomacy can play a large factor in Civ V, as well. The new independent City-States require a bit of babysitting and hand-holding, but they can provide you with various tributes that help make your nation prosper and, should you liberate them, they will be your biggest fans when it comes time to vote for a new world leader, U.N.-style.

Then again, war is another perfectly valid way to win the game, and with fun 'splosive weapons such as Nuclear Missiles and Giant Killer Robots, who can say no to marching across the world, wreaking havoc and devastation and stamping your colors on all of the other cities in the world?

Anyone who has read this far and is still reading should, most likely, buy a copy of Civ V; it's a good entry point, and it's a nice step for players of the series and the console version, alike. It seems to be "the best of both worlds," with more depth and more realistic presentation than can be had in Civilization Revolution, while being easier to approach with an easier to use User Interface than Civ IV. The only crowd I can't whole-heartedly recommend Civ V to (yet) are those who are all about the online multiplayer aspect of the game. For those people, I would suggest assuming a holding pattern and waiting for further reports.

-Geck0, GameVortex Communications
AKA Robert Perkins

Minimum System Requirements:

Windows XP SP3/ Windows Vista SP2/ Windows 7, Dual Core CPU, 2GB RAM, 8 GB Free Hard Drive Space, DVD-ROM Drive (if using disc and not download), 256 MB ATI HD2600 XT or better or 256 MB nVidia 7900 GS or better, or Core i3 or better integrated graphics, DirectX 9.0c-compatible sound card, DirectX version 9.0c

Test System:

MS Windows XP Home Edition, AMD Dual-Core, 3.11 GHz, 2 GB RAM, Award Modular BIOS v6.00PG, Gateway HD2201 21" HDMI Monitor, Sony SDM-HS73 Monitor, ATI Radeon HD 2400 (256 MB), USB MixAmp, A30 Gaming Headset, Realtek HD Audio, Creative SB X-Fi, 1.5 TB Western Digital Caviar Green SATA Hard Drive, Sony DVD RW, Cable Modem, Logitech Wireless Gaming Mouse G700

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