Thursday, June 30, 2011

REVIEW: Civilization V

Bottom Line: Still as Great as Ever

Score: 10/10

There's always a dual risk in making an innovative sequel for a well established franchise which has been going on for years which departs from the well-known established conventions of the franchise. If you innovate too much you will estrange your core fanbase- which is bad and will harm you, and if you keep creating the old games, you won't reach a new audience, and the repetition will make the games wearisome. When Civilization V was announced and the new features were introduced a lot of people were worried that this might signal a bad turning point in the series. Fortunately, these concerns were wrong. The franchise has managed to keep balance and reconcile innovation, the need for a new audience, and loyalty to the spirit of the series.

Civilization franchise is famous for being complex and very deep when it comes to gameplay. The gameplay is said to be addictive and very thoughtful. At the same time, the previous games in the franchise were very difficult. It took hours to grasp the system and you had to keep on and on playing in order to master the games. The challenge that this game embarked upon was to simplify the gameplay, make it accessible to the common gamer and reach a wider audience but not lose the magic of previous games which manifested itself in deep and strategic gameplay.

As I've mentioned, this challenge is successfully faced. The game has become simpler without becoming shallow. It has become accessible without losing its strategic difficulty, and it's still as addictive as ever. It still can make you forget time and place and force you to go on playing and thinking of it while you're at work and dream about it at nights.

The most important factor in this change is the new system of tutorial: there's a tutorial mode which guides you step by step in what you should do, and your advisors explain every aspect of the game in all detail. Therefore you won't be faced with a very complex system you have to work out with trial and error: the game takes the pain to introduce you to every aspect of its complex system bit by bit. The game suddenly becomes simple and accessible without being slightly less complex: the game educates its system. The tutorial is a very great thing which we should welcome. Now, although you may lose the first or second times you venture upon the journey into the game but with a day or two of gaming even the least experienced of gamers, even those who dislike strategic games, will learn and can appreciate the game.

The other good change is changing square tiles into polygamy tiles which has made the expansion of your territories smoother and now the borders of your kingdom looks much more like a real country rather than a chess field.

These differences aside the game has kept the spirit of the previous games. You get to choose a nation with a leader and with them you can rewrite history. The game starts at ancient times where your settlers lay the foundation of your first city and then you can expand to a great civilization. You have multiple ways to win the game; you can destroy the competing civilizations in a military campaign, you can advance far ahead of them in science and technology or arts and culture, or you can just run out of time.

The third change done is in the culture system. A new feature is introduced: social policies. You earn culture points in the game and spend it to adopt a policy. These policies are the more complex versions of civics in the previous game, and determine how your society moves forward.

Research system has been improved too, instead of a linear system now you have a tree and you can think and actually decide to which direction your researching should move.

Diplomacy too has been expanded and has become deeper: you can now sign different pacts with civilizations you're at peace with, for example research or security pacts.

In short, the gameplay has become simpler and more accessible, but at the same time has moved more in depth and has become more strategic as well.

You have almost indefinite ways to play this game. You can become any sorts of civilization you like, and really create your dream utopia. This is all due to the fascinating deep gameplay of the series.

Finally, I'd like to point to one important thing: there are 18 civilizations in the game. All of them are pictured completely accurately, and this is something rare yet very important when it comes to gaming. For example, one of the most misunderstood civilizations is the Persian civilization, which is wrongly pictured similar to Arab or Indian civilization. (Prince of Persia looks like all nationalities except Persians). But in this game they are pictured accurately and the song accompanying them is a famous Iranian song. The same goes for the rest as well. Real research has been put to creating this game, and this is a sign of how well-worked and well-created this superb game is.

The game is a masterpiece and I recommend it to everyone. It'll be the best addiction you ever had.
Originally published at GameFAQS

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