For the last few years, there’s been a not-so-quiet war brewing over the Civilization series. On one side; the strategy series’ purists craving the depth and formula they’ve known for years. On the other, the fans brought in by the series’ first console iteration; Civilization Revolution, which featured a much more streamlined and approachable interface for casual fans. The game’s upcoming fifth iteration would surely be the breaking point for fans on either side as developing veteran Sid Meier choose and 2K games had to choose which side to embrace. Or did they?
Civilization V takes the best parts from each version of Civilization and rolls them into one glorious ball of strategic fun. Purists, everything you love about the franchise you’ve invested so much time into is here, just with that little extra. Oh, and don’t let all of the talk of becoming more accessible scare you away — Civilization V is everything you’d expect it to be — and more, it’ just easier for everyone to enjoy.
Like all of its predecessors, Civilization 5 is all about player choice, and each of these choices has an impact on just how your game plays out. Let’s start with the most basic of choices — which civilization you’re going to play as. Each is led by a different historical leader, and offers different challenges and benefits. Play as a world power and you’re sure to have all of the latest technical advances, but you’ve also got so much more under your watch then if you were to play as a smaller nation in the process of building itself up. Offering even more depth, Civilization V offers players the ability to change the era in which they’re playing, which completely changes the experience. Playing in one era, the world powers are different, and you’re going to have a whole new set of challenges to finish.
It’s this, above all else that serves as Civilization V’s greatest asset — you’re going to want to play it, and play itâ€¦and play it. There are a wealth of options throughout Civilization V, and you’ll find that you’re going to spend a lot of time tweaking them to ensure you’re playing the game that’s best for you. Civilization V is about creating stories, and there’s no one here to hold your hand and tell you just how things have to be. Take my play through as the Aztecs for instance, I was able to take them from nearly dying out society to a thriving futuristic empire ahead of any other. That’s where most are going to find they’ll spend the most of their time with Civilization V, crafting alternate takes on the world’s history.
Even the most dedicated Civilization players would have to agree that the series was in danger of becoming a little bit too complicated. Yeah, get rid of your gamer bravado and you’ll see it too. The latest installment does a great job stripping away some of those elements, and while they’re sure to be noticeable to those who really invested their time into Civilization IV, they improve the game’s pace dramatically. First, now only one unit is allowed per hex on the battlefield, which evens the playing field dramatically. You now have a clear vision of just what you’re up against, and your opponent won’t be able to hide their units and sucker you into a battle that you have no idea in unwinnable.
Another key change is the fact that there’s a ton less micromanaging required in Civilization V. Now, some may not find this as a negative, but I found that it makes the game much more approachable and much easier to dig in to. Since you’ll spend a lot less time in the menu system, you’re going to spend a lot more of it in the game proper, and be better able to manage your entire civilization at once. Of course, some of the choices here are lessened in favor of the new system, like the lack of religious options, but when a system works this well, it’s excusable.
The Blast Factor: The Civilization series needed a revolution of its own, and say what you will about it, Revolution was it. Now, Civilization V takes the best aspects from the long running series, and combines them with a more approachable interface to create what could be the best version of the franchise to date. Though it falls short of a masterpiece, even the most hardened players are sure to fall in love with the series all over again.