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Review: Civilization V

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the do-not-taunt-the-giant-death-robot dept.

Games 399

Turn-based strategy is an underrepresented genre of video games. Perhaps it's because they aren't as flashy, or aren't as embedded in the public consciousness as the more popular types of games. Or maybe because it's so damn hard to build them right. The first Civilization game came out 19 years ago. (Feel old? Sorry.) Despite changes in design leadership over the years, Sid Meier and the Firaxis crew realized that they had a solid foundation, and poured their efforts into refining everything that worked, and revamping everything that didn't. Civilization V reflects not just a few years of direct development after the launch of Civ 4, but also nearly two decades of continually evolving game design. Read on for the rest of my thoughts.

  • Title: Civilization V
  • Developer: Firaxis Games
  • Publisher: 2K Games
  • System: Windows
  • Reviewer: Soulskill
  • Score: 8/10

If you're new to the Civ series (or even if you just haven't played one in a while), be prepared for a serious information dump. Civ 5 tries to start you out small and easy, but such things are relative for games this complex. Even setting up a game can seem daunting, though default options and settings go a long way toward making sure your first game is a good one. There's also a tutorial that will walk you through basic situations, AI advisers that explain things and suggest goals, and even a search-able "Civilopedia" with detailed descriptions of abilities, characteristics, and historical significance.

But even with those resources, Civ 5 demands that you spend some time learning about the game before you can really enjoy it. You can get by on the AI recommendations for what you should build, but after a while it feels like you're just facilitating a game of bots vs bots. Once you get past the learning curve, a wealth of options open up before you. Understanding the "how" takes a little time, but lets you start working on "how best," which is a much broader and more difficult question, and the one from which arises the game's extreme depth. Explaining the decision-making process is almost as difficult as the process itself. What Firaxis did really well was make certain that your long-term goals are affected in some way by all of your short-term choices — your task is to solve the equivalent of the Fermi equation for getting the most out of your resources while not neglecting relations with the other empires.

At its heart, Civ 5 is about Cities. Everything else — units, buildings, diplomacy, war, resource gathering and expenditure — arises from that one constant. Once you establish a city, it will produce a variety of resources to be allocated as you direct. It will accumulate citizens, who harvest the land around them for gold, food, production capacity, strategic materials (like horses, so the Cavalry have something to ride), and luxuries (like spices, which tend to make people happier about the prospect of eating rotten onions and old shoes). Cities and citizens also produce culture and science, both of which Firaxis has quantified and made into currencies. As if that weren't enough, cities also slowly generate "Great" people, who have powerful one-time-use abilities, and citizens have a happiness rating, which strongly affects growth.

If that sounds like a lot of different resources, that's because it is — certainly, it gives you more to think about than a traditional gold-and-lumber resource system. But the real complexity comes from the way in which all the resources interact with each other. For example, say you want to get more scientific research out of your city. You can do so by spending a certain number of turns building a Library, which directly increases your research capabilities. However, another option is to build a Workshop, which will make it take less time to build a Library later, as well as other research-enhancing buildings like a Public School or a University, not to mention the dozens of buildings not relating to research. Another option is to strengthen your city's gold production, then use the gold to buy the Library outright. Similar indirect paths exist through virtually every other resource, and there's always the option of hitting your neighbor over the head and making off with his textbooks.

Your nation-building strategy arises out of the interaction between all of these smaller, simpler systems. On that scale, it works, and it's fun. Taken individually, some systems work better than others. Your cities produce Culture, which has two purposes: it makes your territory grow, and it allows you to adopt Social Policies. You can think of the Social Polices like a talent tree for your nation. After accumulating particular amounts of culture points, you spend it to slightly alter how your empire operates. While there are a lot of options to pick from, you actually make choices infrequently, and the policies themselves aren't particularly interesting. They certainly don't have enough of an effect to be discernible by an opponent. Similarly, your scientific research goes into a tech tree, and while there's a certain amount of room to pursue particular technologies before others, the penalty for doing so becomes excessive very quickly. On their own, these systems are not terribly interesting, but being part of a larger system does a lot to minimize their flaws.

Of course, all of these choices depend on having the right information, which in turn requires a UI capable of communicating everything you need to know without getting cluttered. Firaxis did a great job at this. Virtually everything you need is either a mouse-hover or a mouse-click away. Hovering over your resources explains their source and their purpose. Over land, it will show the resources the land offers. By clicking on a city you can see its buildings, choose what it produces, see what it produces and modify how it does so. Manipulating units is dead simple, with mouse-hovers detailing how long it takes them to do something, combat odds relative to an enemy unit, advantages and disadvantages from ranks and terrain, and more. You can zoom in and out on the primary map, and even pull back to a two-dimensional strategic view. A giant glowing button by the minimap is your go-to for making sure units have orders and cities are building something. Every turn, important events pop up as icons on the right side of your screen, and clicking on the icons takes you to wherever you need to look.

Unfortunately, the strength of the UI doesn't carry over to the other aspects of the game that aren't directly related to the gameplay. The menuing system is a bit clunky. Civ 5 is more demanding on hardware than you might expect for a strategy game. Tabbing out is more of a pain than it should be in 2010. And Firaxis, while your introductory cinematic is very pretty, I don't want to see it every time I start the game. Furthermore, I don't want it to take 30 seconds to stop playing after I hit Escape. There are also a few strange setting restrictions. Perhaps there's a good reason not to be able to change video settings in the middle of a game, but I can't think of any. Some of the gameplay settings need to be alterable as well — at least the cosmetic ones. Also, while their implementation of an autosave feature was excellent, manual saving during multiplayer games isn't ideal.

One of most heralded changes from previous Civ games is the switch from square tiles to hexagonal tiles. Having tried it out, I think it's definitely a fun and welcome choice, though its virtues may have been overstated. It gives units a more natural movement, and removes the awkwardness of corners. It also complements another notable change: the inability to stack multiple military units on a single tile. You can no longer pile up enormous armies in the same spot and, when the time is right, flood an enemy nation without a care for placement or attack order. It's definitely a coup for reintroducing tactics to wars between nations. Besieging an enemy city with equivalent forces becomes a delicate puzzle, where each unit needs to be positioned in the right spot to fight the proper opponent or be in range to lob projectiles at them. It also creates situations where troops or terrain can create bottlenecks, which can make a stronger army hesitant to advance on a weaker but well-placed army. Sun-tzu would be pleased. On top of that, cities actually have teeth this time around — they can shoot attackers from a couple tiles away, which adds another element to planning battles.

The other major change is the introduction of City-states. These are essentially miniature empires that never expand. You can have limited diplomatic interactions with them, gaining favor by providing luxury resources or killing somebody for them, or simply by bribing them with gold. Or you can invade their tiny territories and conquer them. I was on the fence about these to start — they take a fair investment of time and resources to befriend or conquer, and they're often in spots to which you would like to expand. But they add another level of complexity to diplomacy, and when you can run an errand for them, they'll supply you with troops and resources, and even interact on other levels, like helping you attack or defend. I think the default settings put too many city-states in the game, but once that number is lowered a bit by modifying settings, they're a lot more fun.

Civ 5's AI is good at some things, and it struggles at others. It does a decent job during battles, maneuvering troops and deciding when to attack in ways that are reasonably close to what a player would do. Diplomacy is hit-and-miss. You'll often have multiple opposing AIs perform the exact same action at the same time. Sometimes it's offers for cooperation or trade agreements. Sometimes it's threats and war. Occasionally it seems like the AI massively overestimates your military capacity, and tries to buy peace from you for much, much more than you would accept. Conversely, proposing a trade is often futile, as they tend to make much higher demands than are reasonable. In a game with several strong opponents, these events can balance out, but other times it will make the game impossible to win or impossible to lose. Oh, and Montezuma's still a jerk.

One of the nice characteristics of the Civilization franchise is that it's easy to see major improvements from one game to the next. Combat tactics, the UI, and diplomatic relations all got a much-needed overhaul, and dozens of little things make for much more streamlined gameplay, allowing you to focus on decision-making without getting bogged down in minutiae. That, combined with their tried-and-true blend of staggered, long-term goals interwoven with short-term objectives makes Civ 5 a great time-waster. I'll bet that most people who play it will fall into the "just one more turn" trap as though the game were hammering away at their dopamine receptors directly.

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399 comments

ehh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33688108)

Wasn't that great.

Re:ehh (3, Insightful)

Spiked_Three (626260) | more than 3 years ago | (#33688436)

Agree. I've been playing civ since v1, and actually before if you count railroad tycoon that kind of started the type of game Civ is. Civ 2 is still the best.
Civ V is ok, the UI improvements are welcomed but not consistently done. Opening and closing dialogs should be done the same everywhere - it isn't. Finding where information is located is a guessing game (until you manually find them all), being on a menu in one place, a button in another. Some title info's text brings up more info, some do not, like I said, just not consistent.
And the game is horridly slow/long. 4-5 hours before you reach gunpowder (standard time, standard game). And only one option for increased speed, 3 options to go even slower .. wtf?
To be honest, the xbox version has been the most enjoyable since civ 2. It is over simplified though. I'd like to have all the features, technologies of Civ V, with the speed and enjoyment of the xbox version.

As far as the "I'll bet that most people who play it will fall into the "just one more turn" trap" comment; nope, I've played 4 games, won the last 2, and when it asked to keep playing, I said no thanks every time.

Re:ehh (4, Informative)

odies (1869886) | more than 3 years ago | (#33688532)

As far as the "I'll bet that most people who play it will fall into the "just one more turn" trap" comment; nope, I've played 4 games, won the last 2, and when it asked to keep playing, I said no thanks every time.

That's not what the comment means. It means if you have something else to do, you think you'll play just one more turn and then quit playing. I remember when as a kid our family was leaving for a holiday and when everyone was ready and waiting, my father would yell he plays just one more turn.

Obviously, after the turn you have to play just one more...

Re:ehh (3, Interesting)

Nursie (632944) | more than 3 years ago | (#33688740)

On;y 4-5 hours?

How long does a full game take? I remember getting hooked into Civ2 for ridiculous amounts of time. I can't rmemeber how much precisely, but the figure of 18 hours springs to mind.

Play this game: still have money prob's in life. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33688578)

You know what, all the people I know that have financial problems, each and every one of them, has grown into a college-credentialed individual that has all kinds of financial difficulties that stemmed from their flawed outlook on what they expect out of society and government. They all have these weird ego trends they persue, they all have their rituals they learned in their Social Studies from Highschool, they all have their religion they assumed in English and Biology class, and yet none of them can balance their checkbook and credit cards.

These economy and life simulation entertainment is becoming much more than mere shallow representations of how someone interacts with their neighbors and nation: it's all becoming a subtle decoy used to replace books, where the student is *entertained* to proceed in the enjoyable learning environment for adapting to the physics and scoring system in the game. It all reaches beyond just the game: it becomes your life. That's why I think that is what's destroying America in many ways. Some people remain so ignorant that they assume this detachment from the world they live in to bing it along with them as a strawman to earn their credibility in arguments they condone and achieve over people around. It's nothing like actual games like puzzles, Role-playing games, and first-person shooters because those have a credence of fantasy about them that we leave their image and traits when done.

Meanwhile, games predominantly from Maxis and those similar like Alpha Centauri and whatnot, they all seem to preach to everyone like a foul church minister or Hollywood executive trying to feed you a copyright meal for your mind that reverse-engineers your lifestyle. How is this game, Civilization V and even Bible Stories (old Nintendo game) and World of Warcraft, useful for any entertainment other than repetitively drill their ethics into your mind until one day you begin repeating their scripted media to overlay your one chance at freedom to make a living of hardwork and good will to those around you?

This story should be titled: Games as drugs, a pretty chemistry set that babysits and teaches your children's future and assumptions.

tl;1mt (4, Funny)

Tackhead (54550) | more than 3 years ago | (#33688150)

Read on for the rest of my thoughts.

OK, it's actually not too long, it's a great review. I'll have a more in-depth comment on it after this turn...

Re:tl;1mt (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33688326)

I hope you made the right choice and you're playing an Englishman. [penny-arcade.com]

Re:tl;1mt (2, Funny)

Beerdood (1451859) | more than 3 years ago | (#33688796)

I give this game an overall "meh". I'm basing that off how long I played it after the first day. I stayed up until about 3:30 am playing Civ V before heading off to bed. When Civ IV came out, I stayed up until about 9 am the next day, called in sick to work, took a quick nap and got up again at 1 to play another 12 hours. So based off of that, this game clearly isn't as good as it's predecessor.

And no, I'm not any more responsible now than I was when Civ IV came out, so that's not a factor in determining the quality of the game.

These screenshots kinda suck (4, Insightful)

molo (94384) | more than 3 years ago | (#33688156)

Taking a screenshot, scaling it down, saving it as a JPEG and then converting the result to PNG results in terrible image quality. Please don't think this reflects the actual visuals of the game.

-molo

Fair Use and Safe Harbor, Perhaps? (3, Interesting)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 3 years ago | (#33688376)

Taking a screenshot, scaling it down, saving it as a JPEG and then converting the result to PNG results in terrible image quality. Please don't think this reflects the actual visuals of the game.

-molo

Aside from bandwidth, a low resolution image from a game used in a review can protect you if the company that made the game doesn't like your review and tries to hit you with a DMCA violation for using their copyrighted images. Whenever you submit non-free content to Wikimedia Commons, there are many guidelines designed to keep you and wikimedia inside fair use and safe harbor [wikipedia.org] suggested boundaries.

For example, when I uploaded a fair use clip of Life on Mars by David Bowie [wikipedia.org], I had to set the sound quality at the absolute lowest possible value and add this rationale to the very long list of requirements to turn a snippet of a copyrighted song into non-free fair use:

It is of a lower quality than the original recording.

I believe that a low res distorted image may protect you from being a target by a game publisher if you wish to reserve your right to pan a game, give it a score zero and still present screen shots to add in your criticism. While it's a good idea to mention these are not game quality resolution screen shots, there may be another purpose to their degradation. The 'this is kinda what it looks like' is exactly what protects you from someone claiming ownership of that imagery accusing you of unlicensed distribution of that imagery.

Just a thought from the world of jacked up copyright insanity. I submitted a story a short while ago that demonstrated how out of hand [slashdot.org] this exact topic can get.

Re:Fair Use and Safe Harbor, Perhaps? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33688574)

Aside from bandwidth, a low resolution image from a game used in a review can protect you if the company that made the game doesn't like your review and tries to hit you with a DMCA violation for using their copyrighted images.

A derivative work is a derivative work. Making it lower quality does nothing to protect you.

Re:Fair Use and Safe Harbor, Perhaps? (3, Insightful)

BassMan449 (1356143) | more than 3 years ago | (#33688612)

Using full quality images in this context should easily qualilfy as fair use. One of the most well established fair use examples is using parts of a copyrighted work for reviews of that work.

Re:Fair Use and Safe Harbor, Perhaps? (2, Interesting)

molo (94384) | more than 3 years ago | (#33688694)

That is silly in this case. A screenshot of a game is not the game itself, and so is already a minimization of the copyrighted work in question. Any game publisher going after reviewers of the game will quickly find themselves in a lot of hot water. Wouldn't fly, would probably get laughed out of court.

And agreed, the FBI logo case is ridiculous.

-molo

Re:Fair Use and Safe Harbor, Perhaps? (1)

Even on Slashdot FOE (1870208) | more than 3 years ago | (#33688884)

Tell that to Serebii.net. Nintendo does not like images of Pokemon Black and White, and they have more lawyers and lawyer money than any individual ever will.

Re:Fair Use and Safe Harbor, Perhaps? (2, Informative)

imthesponge (621107) | more than 3 years ago | (#33688834)

Just FYI: Wikimedia Commons doesn't accept fair use images. Wikipedia itself does.

Re:Fair Use and Safe Harbor, Perhaps? (1)

Skylinux (942824) | more than 3 years ago | (#33688866)

Aside from bandwidth, a low resolution image from a game used in a review can protect you if the company that made the game doesn't like your review and tries to hit you with a DMCA violation for using their copyrighted images.

I would not support that action but I would support a suit because of defamation :-) These images are terrible, even a low quality YouTube video review has better quality.

Re:These screenshots kinda suck (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33688512)

I was under the impression that the conversion from JPEG to PNG would maintain the same image quality as the original JPEG. PNG is lossless, isn't it?

The PNG probably has a larger filesize though.

Re:These screenshots kinda suck (1)

molo (94384) | more than 3 years ago | (#33688624)

Yes, that is correct. The problem is that it was saved as a low-quality JPEG full of compression artifacts, then converted to PNG. Pointless. Might as well have kept it as a JPEG, since switching it to PNG will just make the file size larger than the JPEG with no added benefit. Ideally we would have the screenshot saved as or converted to a lossless PNG straight away.

-molo

Re:These screenshots kinda suck (0)

CrashNBrn (1143981) | more than 3 years ago | (#33688820)

PNG can be lossless, if you choose 0 for compression level - then the image is basically a bitmap when it comes to file-size (except png inherently supports Alpha-channel transparency).

Similiar to Video - every time you change format you will almost-always introduce artifacts.

Also, JPG image quality can be greatly improved by choosing the option to disable color subsampling. JPG's tend to be smaller than PNG when you start with a BMP, but not always -- depends on the content of the image.

Interestingly,
BMP->JPG: Smallish File size.
BMP->PNG: Smallish File size, may be smaller than previous JPG.
YET...Take that JPG and save as a level 6 compression PNG and it will be bigger than it's parent JPG and bigger than the BMP->PNG.

slightly related.... (2, Interesting)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 3 years ago | (#33688168)

... I'd love to see somebody get the license from Paramount to release an updated version of Birth of the Federation [wikipedia.org]. It was basically Civ2 for the Star Trek TNG universe. I absolutely loved that game.

Re:slightly related.... (3, Interesting)

eudas (192703) | more than 3 years ago | (#33688372)

I didn't play CIV2 but my $0.02 was that BOTF = MOO2 reskinned, which isn't surprising since both were made by Microprose.

Re:slightly related.... (2, Informative)

shadowrat (1069614) | more than 3 years ago | (#33688622)

BOTF was cool, but AI processing time went up exponentially with each successive turn. after a few hours of play, it was agonizing to wait for the chance to do something again. then it crashed. Maybe it worked better on your system.

Great Game (5, Interesting)

sonicmerlin (1505111) | more than 3 years ago | (#33688170)

It's a shame they removed the religion aspect of Civ 4. While it was at times clunky and had a confusing implementation (forcing a great deal of irritating micromanagement), the effect religion has had on societies historically has perhaps been greater than any other factor. Even today religious extremism plays a huge role in politics and world affairs. I was hoping they'd refine the mechanism to make it more sensible and enjoyable, but it seems they were scared of being politically incorrect and avoided controversy by removing it altogether.

Re:Great Game (4, Interesting)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | more than 3 years ago | (#33688260)

It's a shame they removed the religion aspect of Civ 4.

But is realism entirely desirable? Religious extremism, and governmetns' responses to it, is an actual threat to many of us. When I play Civ (III), it's to have a little semi-real escaism from the worries of my day. I don't want to spend hours worrying about the same stuff I worry about in real life.

Re:Great Game (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33688366)

How isn't it escapism? In Civ 4 I could do something about the religious extremist civilizations.

Re:Great Game (4, Interesting)

Mongoose Disciple (722373) | more than 3 years ago | (#33688404)

In the specific case of Civ IV's implementation of it, yeah, I think it was desirable. It added another dimension of interesting choices to the game.

Do I adopt the religion of my aggressive neighbor to try to placate them, or do I pick the religion that's spread more in my empire for its mechanical benefits, hoping I can placate or survive that aggressive neighbor another way?

Do I prioritize researching a tech that will found a religion for its benefits, or do I want to prioritize making axes and taking my neighbor's religious city violently, or do I want to prioritize economic growth now and hope to grab another religion later?

Should I spread the religion I founded to my larger neighbor for the gold it will feed me and in hopes they'll be Hindu buddies with me, or do I limit its spread to keep my upper hand in Apostlic Palace votes?

etc. Basically, it feels like an interesting piece fell out of the game for no good reason. Maybe Civ V expansions will add it back in.

Re:Great Game (5, Funny)

ReverendLoki (663861) | more than 3 years ago | (#33688464)

In Civ 4, my Chinese civilization founded Judaism and made it the state religion. It left an image in my mind of millions of Hasidim bowing at the Great Wall, as the might at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem now. Since then, I'm not too concerned about the realism of religions in that game.

Re:Great Game (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33688926)

Religious extremism, and governmetns' responses to it, is an actual threat to many of us. When I play Civ (III), it's to have a little semi-real escaism from the worries of my day. I don't want to spend hours worrying about the same stuff I worry about in real life.

By that logic, should they remove war from the game as well?

Re:Great Game (2, Interesting)

canajin56 (660655) | more than 3 years ago | (#33688280)

All religious in civ 4 are 100% identical, and have no impact on politics except for, on rare occations, an AI leader demanding you convert or go to war. Not that it matters if you convert, as it has zero impact on anything other than perhaps cities with the same religion in them as you, get a microscopic happiness boost. And since a city can hold many religions even that doesn't actually matter for shit. (Especially since the best civics don't give this bonus anyway). It was a neat idea but they couldn't pull it off, and it deserved to go bye-bye.

Re:Great Game (1)

Mongoose Disciple (722373) | more than 3 years ago | (#33688462)

Not that it matters if you convert, as it has zero impact on anything other than perhaps cities with the same religion in them as you, get a microscopic happiness boost ... and a culture boost. ... and all of the religious civics only applied to cities with your state religion. ... and then we have the effects of temples, monestaries, cathedrals, the Apostolic Palace, holy buildings and religious sight...

Did we play the same game?

Re:Great Game (4, Informative)

TheSunborn (68004) | more than 3 years ago | (#33688582)

No impact on politics? Leders with the same religion as you would like you much more, and almost newer go to war with you. A good way to start was to get an early religion switch to it and then build a road to a neighbour, open border with hin and hope the religion spred to him so he would switch to it. That way you were almost safe from attack from him. In fact different religions were most often the reason for war in civ iv.

Re:Great Game (4, Informative)

Thorizdin (456032) | more than 3 years ago | (#33688296)

I agree, but they also caught a ton of grief over it. I have acquaintances that refused to touch Civ4 specifically because of the inclusion of religion. Interestingly the people I know who felt that way fell into both the very religious (in this case fundamentalist Christians) and in the very non-religious (strident atheist in this case).

Re:Great Game (2, Funny)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 3 years ago | (#33688368)

See, that makes no sense. The believers could crush the non-believers, and the non-believers could crush the believers.

Why wouldn't they want that opportunity?

Re:Great Game (1)

atisss (1661313) | more than 3 years ago | (#33688494)

They are still all believers, even atheists.. Atheists DO believe that God doesn't exist.

Non-believers are called agnostics, as they simply don't care

Re:Great Game (2, Insightful)

Nursie (632944) | more than 3 years ago | (#33688790)

Words. They have meanings. Atheist - without religion. Agnostic - without knowledge. I am both, I suspect you are too.

Re:Great Game (2, Interesting)

Mongoose Disciple (722373) | more than 3 years ago | (#33688442)

The objection of atheists puzzle me -- even if you hate religion, it's hard to deny the immense influence it's had on the development of civilization to this point, which is exactly the point.

Re:Great Game (1)

eln (21727) | more than 3 years ago | (#33688692)

I don't see why an atheist would object on philosophical grounds. However, I can see why an atheist, being bombarded by religion on a daily basis in real life, would enjoy a game more if it had no religion in it. Personally, I accepted religion in the game but never really concentrated on developing it so the true impact it could have on a game was largely lost on me. The way I played the game, the religions were more of a pointless nuisance than anything else. Others who played the game differently probably have a different point of view on it, but I'm totally indifferent toward the fact that religion was left out this time around.

Re:Great Game (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33688934)

I don't see why atheists are incapable of realizing that atheism is a form of religion.

You can't prove the existence of any divinity, anymore than you can prove the negative, that there is no divinity.

So stop whining, suck it up, and deal like everyone else has to deal with the thousands of annoying things that could kill them everyday.

Re:Great Game (1)

SupremoMan (912191) | more than 3 years ago | (#33688608)

Oh then tell your acquaintances they can buy it now. So instead of playing the best game of the series, which civ4 was by far, they are stuck with this POS and no religion! Yey! the "sanity" of a religious zealot prevails yet again!

Re:Great Game (1)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 3 years ago | (#33688782)

Do they refuse to live life because there is religion in it?

Not playing a game because it models religion is ridiculous. How about Chess or Risk, they bad because they model warfare?

Re:Great Game (4, Funny)

Mongoose Disciple (722373) | more than 3 years ago | (#33688948)


Not playing a game because it models religion is ridiculous. How about Chess or Risk, they bad because they model warfare?

Chess also has bishops!

(From it, impressionable children could also learn the dangerous lesson that clergy only move diagonally.)

Re:Great Game (1)

Iamthecheese (1264298) | more than 3 years ago | (#33688410)

I've seen the religion aspect criticized for mechanics reasons. It was said that religion didn't have enough of an effect on strategy and that it could be ignored completely.

Re:Great Game (1)

SupremoMan (912191) | more than 3 years ago | (#33688654)

I would disagree. Maybe on low settings this is true. But on higher settings and if actually competing with another Human being, religion was highly desirable.

It had benefits and hardly any drawbacks. Only drawback was the possibility of your opponent winning a diplomatic victory.

Re:Great Game (1)

TinyEngineer10 (1859624) | more than 3 years ago | (#33688504)

This is something I am actually very happy about. The way religion was implemented into Civilization is that it simply acted as a uniting or fighting force between you and the other civilizations. For obvious reasons they can't make the religion aspect directly effect your civilization. The main difference I see between uniting civilizations based on religion vs. the current social policy system is that there's no longer a 'founder' nation that will reap the benefits of founding a religion. If you really want to implement such a system I'd imagine having the game bring back civil disorder and the creation of guerrilla forces when cities are attacked. In fact, try making it such that your citizens have a certain want towards different social policies that depends on either your nation, or perhaps research paths - and then have the possibility of civil unrest and creation of guerrilla forces that attack your cities OR have cities then have certain probability of creating barbarians which attack other nations depending on your policy (or religion) would be an interesting implementation.

Re:Great Game (1)

Antisyzygy (1495469) | more than 3 years ago | (#33688632)

I forget which game this came from but I remember a game where your religion would bestow upon you benefits. I.e. a harder working people or more money or scientific advancements. I mean, I guess Age of Mythology was kind of like that but Im pretty sure this game was turn based and I cant for the life of me remember what it was.

I'm still playing CIV I (2, Insightful)

mandark1967 (630856) | more than 3 years ago | (#33688200)

I should be done in another 30yrs or so, barring accident, crime, LHC creating an earth-swallowing black hole, alien invasion (ET Type, not Mexican) or Pandemic.

After that I think I'll need to rest a bit.

and this is all i needed to know (1)

conspirator57 (1123519) | more than 3 years ago | (#33688208)

AI is still crap, it seems. i'll stick with prior civs i already have, thanks.

Diplomacy is hit-and-miss. You'll often have multiple opposing AIs perform the exact same action at the same time. Sometimes it's offers for cooperation or trade agreements. Sometimes it's threats and war. Occasionally it seems like the AI massively overestimates your military capacity, and tries to buy peace from you for much, much more than you would accept. Conversely, proposing a trade is often futile, as they tend to make much higher demands than are reasonable. In a game with several strong opponents, these events can balance out, but other times it will make the game impossible to win or impossible to lose. Oh, and Montezuma's still a jerk.

Re:and this is all i needed to know (-1)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 3 years ago | (#33688272)

Just like with Civilization IV, single player is useful for developing build orders, strategies, and just familiarizing yourself with the huge amount of data and content.

Multiplayer with good friends (not random people online) is where the real fun is to be had with a Civ game.

I'm enjoying it (1)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 3 years ago | (#33688222)

So far, I'm happy [livingwithanerd.com] with Civilization V. It took some time to get its claws in me, since I spent so much time with Civilization IV. However, now that the "getting to know you" period is ending and the "I know you" period is starting, I can see myself getting just as engrossed in this one as I did with previous entries in the series.

Another 8/10? (4, Insightful)

Lunix Nutcase (1092239) | more than 3 years ago | (#33688254)

Soulskill's reviews score is mostly meaningless because probably 3/4ths of his reviews are 8/10. This was 8/10, Halo Reach was 8/10, Dragon Age: Origins was 8/10. Champions Online got an 8/10. I could go on. While he occasionally goes down to 7/10 or sometimes up to 9/10, probably 95% or more of his reviews are an above average score which makes his scale meaningless. It's like the review sites that give every game at least a 9/10 no matter how much criticism they give of it.

Re:Another 8/10? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33688324)

@Lunix Nutcase - no #linux version #fail #!buying

Re:Another 8/10? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33688524)

Yeah luckily he posted a well written article to go along with those numbers so we can draw our own conclusions on the game's strengths and weaknesses.

Re:Another 8/10? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33688620)

Might be that he only reviews those he likes, but has high standards and doesn't like anything too much.

Re:Another 8/10? (1)

BassMan449 (1356143) | more than 3 years ago | (#33688650)

That's the problem with a 10 point scale. 8 vs. 9 seems like a big difference. You can't give a game a 10. Ever. Then you have no were to go if a better game comes along, but with that you run into the same issue with a 9. If you give a game a 9 then no game can ever be rated higher than it.

If they would use a 100 point scale (10 point scale with decimals is the same thing) then you can be a little more flexible with your reviews.

Re:Another 8/10? (1)

daid303 (843777) | more than 3 years ago | (#33688760)

You can't give a game a 10.

Portal.

Re:Another 8/10? (1)

BassMan449 (1356143) | more than 3 years ago | (#33688786)

You can't even give Portal a 10. I love Portal. I've played through it many times and everytime enjoy it just as much as I did the first time. That still doesn't mean it's the perfect game and there can never be a better game. As awesome as a game as it is, it still had flaws just like every game ever made.

Re:Another 8/10? (1)

Triv (181010) | more than 3 years ago | (#33688880)

"As awesome as a game as it is, it still had flaws just like every game ever made." ...yeah? Name one.

Re:Another 8/10? (2, Interesting)

rsborg (111459) | more than 3 years ago | (#33688922)

That still doesn't mean it's the perfect game and there can never be a better game.

I seriously hope to god you're not grading papers at an educational institution. If grades were based on all past and all future possibilities, no one would ever get an A, let alone an A+.

Fact is, your understanding of the meaning of a grading scale is impossible to implement and not very useful to boot. Grades are subjective... when you're comparing to an infinite space (ie, all future games), you're attenuating your scale and making the edge number meaningless. Like the opposite of "turning it up to 11", you never even dial it to 10, why have it?

Re:Another 8/10? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33688660)

Well, those games you listed are above average games. He gave above average scores to above average games. I don't see the problem.

Re:Another 8/10? (5, Insightful)

kevinNCSU (1531307) | more than 3 years ago | (#33688682)

Perhaps since he isn't getting paid to write the review and likely has neither infinite time nor money like most customers he's probably capable of discerning what is crap before he spends his time and money on it and therefore doesn't? If he was a gaming magazine that was responsible for reviewing ALL games then your parroting the ancient concerns over the media's game reviews would be on target, but since he's only responsible for reviewing the games he wants to play AND review anyways, it's no surprise the games usually register in the upper end of his scale.

Re:Another 8/10? (1)

Bobfrankly1 (1043848) | more than 3 years ago | (#33688806)

Perhaps since he isn't getting paid to write the review and likely has neither infinite time nor money like most customers he's probably capable of discerning what is crap before he spends his time and money on it and therefore doesn't? If he was a gaming magazine that was responsible for reviewing ALL games then your parroting the ancient concerns over the media's game reviews would be on target, but since he's only responsible for reviewing the games he wants to play AND review anyways, it's no surprise the games usually register in the upper end of his scale.

Exactly what I was thinking. If I had mod points I'd spend one on this.

Re:Another 8/10? (5, Insightful)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 3 years ago | (#33688718)

That would be true if he reviewed every game that comes out.

It appears he only reviews games that he thinks will be good, so the reviews will tend towards the higher end of the scale.

Re:Another 8/10? (3, Insightful)

raddan (519638) | more than 3 years ago | (#33688734)

I look forward to your many in-depth reviews of games you don't like to play.

The content of this website is provided for free by enthusiasts. A little self-selection in certain topics is inevitable.

Re:Another 8/10? (1)

thomst (1640045) | more than 3 years ago | (#33688754)

Soulskill's reviews score is mostly meaningless because probably 3/4ths of his reviews are 8/10. This was 8/10, Halo Reach was 8/10, Dragon Age: Origins was 8/10. Champions Online got an 8/10. I could go on. While he occasionally goes down to 7/10 or sometimes up to 9/10, probably 95% or more of his reviews are an above average score which makes his scale meaningless. It's like the review sites that give every game at least a 9/10 no matter how much criticism they give of it.

Has it occurred to you that perhaps he only bothers to write detailed reviews for games he likes? And that 8/10 is pretty much the minimum level of enjoyment he requires to motivate him to go to the trouble of writing a review?

Re:Another 8/10? (1)

ADRA (37398) | more than 3 years ago | (#33688784)

Maybe they're only reviewing games they want to play? That would definitely skew the results across the board. Frankly Slashdot reviews are only relevant to me at all because of the comments.

Multi-player ? (1)

us7892 (655683) | more than 3 years ago | (#33688266)

Can it be played online, in multi-player mode?

Please forgive my noob-ness. I've never played civ. Looks great.

Re:Multi-player ? (2, Interesting)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 3 years ago | (#33688298)

It can, but you'll be best served playing with people you know. Civilization IV LANs provided some of my most memorable gaming moments (not the most memorable, but a few that rank fairly high)

If you know anyone else that plays it, you should definitely get into it with them. Multiplayer Civ + friends = unforgettable weekend.

Re:Multi-player / thoughts between 4 vs 5 (2, Informative)

slyrat (1143997) | more than 3 years ago | (#33688728)

Can it be played online, in multi-player mode? Please forgive my noob-ness. I've never played civ. Looks great.

Well in civ 4 they had a fantastic side app called pitboss that made it easy to set up multiplayer games. It was pretty much a server, and you could have it email players when it was their turn. It also made it so you could have everyone jump into and out of the game whenever and not fear that the game would be lost. I've heard that within a month or two this will also be coming to civ V along with hot-seat and play by email. pbem games were essentially emailing the save file around between the players.

I will also have to state that the multiplayer is the primary way I play civ anymore. So at least for now I'm waiting for pitboss in civ v before I buy it. Oh and for those on the fence about a new civ, grab the demo and try out the game for 100 turns. I found it to be not really better or worse than 4, just different. In particular if you enjoy the military aspect of the civ games then you should stick to 5. I prefer 4 mostly because of the wider range of civs and having both a unique building and unit for each civ.

Multiplayer is sadly broken... (4, Interesting)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 3 years ago | (#33688294)

its bad, real bad. Turns take too long to process, which is really bad when many people don't have anything to do but click next turn but one or two do have something. It can take minutes after everyone has clicked. Don't crash while in MP, sometimes its easy to get back in other times... Multi player also has animations hard coded to be off.

As for the intro movie, pressing ENTER skips it, once it bothers to read the keyboard. Otherwise edit the user config file found under documents section of Windows. There are some other settings in the ini files that cannot be adjusted anywhere else, as in, not even the game UI provides access.

I have it up and running on my iMac through boot camp, while I can start off max resolution and features it does chug as you fill in the map. Apparently they animate what is off screen too!

Outside of the multi player my real hangup is the mini map, looks like MS Paint was used. Many of us thought it was obvious place holder, but alas it is still here! Minor nits include not being able to adjust any video settings while playing the game. It takes like four clicks to start a game, as in just to get to the CIV game itself. Seems Steam wants to step in the way every chance it can, even offline. Some nation specials are pretty whack, if played right you can just roll over anything. City States while nice are a great source of workers early on, usually safe to steal one per, the squash which ever City State has an annoying personality. Best hint, leave space for barbarians near them so you get free rep for occasionally bopping the barbarians.

You do not need Steam to play the game nor do you need the DVD. You do need Steam to install it. I don't even let it start anymore, I do not need "buy this game spam" every time I exit to the desktop. I do not need the cheesy achievements and my play uploaded. Which btw, if you load a mod your ineligible for achievements, so don't even go for that clock mod.

Most common issues, can't install the game past Steam, can't run in DX9 more or maybe not in DX11 mode (its much better in DX9), various animation or graphics artifacts, CTDs, and other typical from new releases. The manual is electronic only.

Re:Multiplayer is sadly broken... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33688374)

The intro movie was designed to run over while the game was loading. If you go into your Usersettings ini file you can disable showing the intro movie, instead you are greeted with a black screen for the same amount of time untill the menu loads. Granted you don't have to spam enter to trigger it.

Re:Multiplayer is sadly broken... (1)

19thNervousBreakdown (768619) | more than 3 years ago | (#33688588)

Give it half a second after the movie starts so it starts taking keyboard input, and you only have to hit enter once. It'll go to the menu as soon as it can.

The texture corruption when AA is turned off is more annoying.

Re:Multiplayer is sadly broken... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33688398)

What! Turns in Civ take a long time! What is the world coming to?

TL;DR (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33688304)

TL;DR

I forget what it's like to sleep in a bed... (1)

Ace170780 (1221898) | more than 3 years ago | (#33688320)

This game is still Civ at it's core. AI issues and so forth is normal. If you go back to vanilla Civ IV without any patches and then come back and tell me it is better. I've only played about 2 to 3 hours just to avoid missing any work but it is still as addictive as the previous versions of the series. With patching and future modding from the community this game will be as popular as the rest. Now just waiting for a free weekend to lose myself in trying to conquer the world with a friend or two since I only seem to play huge maps lol

Underrepresented? (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 3 years ago | (#33688386)

Strategy games aren't underrepresented. There aren't as many of them on the market, sure, but they make up for that in depth. There are already too many strategy games on the market for any one player to master, just one good game can consume your gaming time for years.

It also has bugs (1)

naoursla (99850) | more than 3 years ago | (#33688396)

My version crashes frequently. One of its favorite places to crash is when I try to save my game. Thank goodness it has the autosave files.

Re:It also has bugs (1)

ckthorp (1255134) | more than 3 years ago | (#33688468)

That reminds me of Mac System 6.x which loved to crash on save or print. But there was none of this "autosave" business so save your butt.

Re:It also has bugs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33688920)

When Civ IV came out it had huge display issues and would crash constantly on my video card which was a couple of years old and was in the bottom of the high-end class. All other games I played at the time did not have any problems. The latest drivers did not help. So I had to abandon Civ IV till I got my current rig.

Now I am in the same situation: a couple of years old, bottom of the high-end class video card (NVidia 8800 GTS). Wonder if I should wait till I decide I need a new computer...

Not buying (2, Insightful)

greenbird (859670) | more than 3 years ago | (#33688546)

As much as I'd love purchasing this game I refuse for one reason: DRM. I refuse to buy a product that someone else gets to decide whether I can use it or not.

Re:Not buying (2, Interesting)

Mr.Intel (165870) | more than 3 years ago | (#33688648)

So work around it. Buy it, but install the cracked version and play to your hearts content. It's a bit of a catch-22, though. Still supporting the company that DRM's things using a third party, but getting to play an awesome game... Good luck figuring that out.

Re:Not buying (1)

Abstrackt (609015) | more than 3 years ago | (#33688816)

So work around it. Buy it, but install the cracked version and play to your hearts content. It's a bit of a catch-22, though. Still supporting the company that DRM's things using a third party, but getting to play an awesome game... Good luck figuring that out.

Sometimes going without something you don't want means going without something you do want. If someone buys a game with DRM they create the impression that DRM is acceptable whether they choose crack it or not.

Re:Not buying (3, Informative)

Ace170780 (1221898) | more than 3 years ago | (#33688664)

WTF are you talking about. It uses Steam. You can play online or offline and doesn't hinder you playing in anyway. Get off your high horse.

Re:Not buying (4, Insightful)

wjousts (1529427) | more than 3 years ago | (#33688750)

Doesn't hinder you until you need to reinstall it and Steam doesn't exist anymore. People are still playing the first Civilization; luckily the down defunct Microprose didn't have DRM servers back then.

Re:Not buying (4, Insightful)

Mr.Intel (165870) | more than 3 years ago | (#33688802)

Sure, it doesn't hinder my playing. Outside of that, what if I want to resell it? I can't because it's tied to my Steam account. What if I go to reinstall it on my PC in 2020 and Steam doesn't exist? What if I can't access my Steam account because it was hacked, i lost my password, or for some other reason? $50 down the drain...

Re:Not buying (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33688898)

WTF are you talking about. It uses Steam. You can play online or offline and doesn't hinder you playing in anyway. Get off your high horse.

Steam is DRM. If Valve were so inclined, they could revoke your license to play the game you bou... er... licensed.

You can hit the 'End' key to skip... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33688690)

the opening cinematic.

New combat (3, Interesting)

imgod2u (812837) | more than 3 years ago | (#33688698)

While I love the new combat system, the AI is simply incapable of playing it well. It would seem that even in this day and age, the idea of forming a front-line to protect your ranged units is something a computer can't grasp. I don't think we'll need to worry about Skynet anytime soon.

it's so damn hard to build them right. (1, Interesting)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 3 years ago | (#33688702)

Turn-based strategy is an underrepresented genre of video games. Perhaps it's because they aren't as flashy, or aren't as embedded in the public consciousness as the more popular types of games. Or maybe because it's so damn hard to build them right.

I was so set to love freeciv when I heard about it, then I found out the hard way that it wasn't turn based. People attacked me on _my_ turns. WTF? Apparently the concept of turn-based games was too hard for freeciv devs.

No worker queue? (1)

Beerdood (1451859) | more than 3 years ago | (#33688724)

This was probably one of the best features in CIV 4 - not having to instruct your workers *every* time. I find I don't really want to automate them, as they rarely do exactly what I want, but not being able to queue some instructions up is a real pain in the ass.

I'm not sure what to think of the turn based warnings. Basically you're forced to move every unit, adopt a new policy, and add something to the production queue before you can end the turn. This is better for efficiency, but the turns take way too long on a big map once you've got several cities on the go.

DRM? (1, Insightful)

wjousts (1529427) | more than 3 years ago | (#33688736)

No mention of the Steam DRM? Seems like an important piece of information for those of us that don't like to have to ask permission to play our games.

Nice Screenshot (1)

generalhavok (1432165) | more than 3 years ago | (#33688752)

Was I the only one to notice that the first screenshot in this review shows Baghdad, with a note that it is occupied, and will "produce extra un-happiness until a courthouse is built"? Apparently, all America needs to do sort out the mess in Iraq is build some courthouses. We all know that the court system in America makes everyone happy.

unstable (1)

RWarrior(fobw) (448405) | more than 3 years ago | (#33688776)

i find the gameplay to be excellent, but the game itself is unstable.

i run it on a dual-head hp desktop with a 1.86ghz processor, 3g of ram, and an nvidia geforce 9400 gt. i'm using windows 7 pro, fully patched, with dx11 and the steam version of the game installed. it's not a great machine, but it certainly should be adequate to play this game in single-player mode.

it's not. it often crashes during game in initialization, and randomly in the middle of the game, and it doesn't seem to matter if it's in dx9 or dx11. when i am in windowed mode and minimize, the entire machine lugs. when i maximize the window again, it doesn't redraw the screen or respond to keyboard input. my only option was to kill the process, losing the game state. even when not minimized, the load on the machine seems quite high.

i'm very disappointed with the stability.

If only the bugs weren't so prevalent (1)

andcarne (657052) | more than 3 years ago | (#33688810)

Having just spent the last 13 hours trying to play a multiplayer game with 4 other people, I'm sadly disappointed in the state of the multiplayer game. Not only is it missing features (like saving, joining as AI, showing a *progress bar* when loading), but it's extremely temperamental and buggy. Firaxis sadly seems to have adopted the 'release now and patch later' attitude so prevalent in PC gaming studios these days. Hopefully a patch will be forthcoming, but at the moment I'm disappointed.

Social policies (1)

spiffmastercow (1001386) | more than 3 years ago | (#33688812)

This and many other reviews downplay the effect of social policies. If done right, I'd say each social policy is worth between 1 and 3 wonders built..

Nice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33688848)

Nice, Skidrow just released it and already here's the review based on their pirated version.

well-thats-not-very-exciting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33688890)

No Nimoy. Less religion than France. Lame.

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