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Civilization V Review: Civilization Revolution

Illustration for article titled Civilization V Review: Civilization Revolution

Previous games in the long-running Civilization series have been, ironically, prisoners of the past. Forced to improve the series via baby steps, for fear of upsetting an apple cart twenty years in the making. Civilization V doesn't do baby steps.

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Instead, for the first time in the series' long history, substantial and fundamental changes have been made to almost every aspect of the game, from its appearance to its core mechanics and everything in between.

It's as if the development team's brief went as follows: retain the most treasured core of the game, cut everything else out, and replace it with stuff that works faster and makes more sense.

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Loved

Let's Talk About Hex, Baby - The most immediate and welcome of the game's many changes, the hexagonal game map not only looks more natural, but the flexibility it allows during military manoeuvres turns tedious combat into Civ V's crowning achievement.

Gloria, Take Notes - There's been a host of changes made to the game's user interface, some of which speed things up, others which make sure you're kept better informed as to the state of your empire.

Minister For Good Times - Government types are gone. Religion is gone. In their place is Civ's own perks system, Policies, which are a masterstroke. Now customising your empire's traits is as easy customising the skills of your favourite RPG character.

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Let Them Eat Happiness - Lots of Civ's underlying cogs and gears, from culture to happiness to research, have been streamlined and now are run nationally instead of through individual cities. It sounds like a dumbing-down, but it's truly liberating.

Why, Hello - The Civilization series has always been a triumph of function over form. The product of engineers rather than artists. Civ V, though, is very easy on the eyes, from its art deco menus to its glorious diplomacy screens.

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All Natural - All of the above combine to leave us with a game that looks and feels...natural. More free-flowing. Less like a procession through an arcane series of checkpoints, more like you're simply riding the wave of history from beginning to end.

Multipass - Civ V's multiplayer operates on a weird system whereby everyone takes their turn at once. It sounds messy, but in most cases it works quite well, meaning a game that could have been about sitting around becomes bearably fast-paced.

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Hated

Cannon Fodder - It'll take you a few hours to get your head around the new map system, and how to move your troops successfully during combat. The AI? It's been playing for months, and still hasn't got the hang of it.

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It's a real shame that there's already a game called Civilization Revolution, because while that console title was a brave attempt at something a little different for the franchise, it's this game that really, well, revolutionises the series.

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With so many changes, tweaks, cuts and additions, it could all have gone so horribly wrong. Make too many changes and you infuriate one of the largest and most devout fanbases in all of gaming. Make too few changes and you risk releasing a game that's accused of being stale. Frumpy. Old-fashioned.

But it didn't, and we're thankfully left with a game that keeps the spirit of Civilization alive with one hand, while with the other, it casts aside twenty years of mechanical dead weight in favour of a faster, cleaner and more enjoyable game.

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Civilization V was developed by Firaxis and published by 2K Games. Released on PC on September 21. Retails for USD$50. A copy of the game was given to us by the publishers. Played one epic campaign and one smaller one as the English, and some multiplayer as the Japanese.

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DISCUSSION

Civ V has alot of things it needs to work on.

Cons:

First and foremost, never with playing multiplayer in Civ IV did I ever have additional loading screens, yet it seems like every 25 or so turns playing with a buddy, it leads to a 30 second or so loading screen.

Secondly, it seems the new turn system is just bulky. It seems to take forever to rotate through the AI's. I remember in Civ IV I could hit enter and boom it was my turn again most of the time. Not the case in Civ V.

The new UI is just bulky. While it may be friendly to newbies, for veterans it is just an insane amount of clicking. Two clicks to tell something to stand ground, an additional click to research, etc etc.

NO DUAL MONITOR SUPPORT. You cannot pan the camera to the right if you have 2 monitors, your mouse will just scroll to the other screen if you try. You literally have to find another means to scroll the map (arrow keys, minimap) or disable your 2nd monitor. Work around that should not have to be performed in a game made in 2010, where dual monitors are fairly common.

Pros:

The new army system is just awesome. While its very annoying that you can't stack units, the fact it promotes tactical warfare (i.e. ranged units firing behind the melee) is a very big plus.

The new city management screens are a big improvement. If you don't feel like waiting for culture to expand seemingly random to resource hexes surrounding your city, you can buy them by spending a little gold. While I personally miss the very easy expansion of the Dutch/French city lands in Civ IV, this system in Civ V is much more strategic.