Let’s face it; the start of the holiday video game season is upon us. The slew of highly anticipated games for 2010 have started to roll onto store shelves, and by far the most anticipated PC game of 2010 has just made it’s way to online and retail stores. Of course I am talking about Civilization V the newest installment in the Civilization franchise, which has been one of the most popular turn based strategy games of all time. Now developer Firaxis and publisher2K Games have teamed up again and hope to continue keep their fan base happy with the release of their newest game. So does Civilization V have what it takes to keep the fans happy while bringing in a new audience? Read our full review to find out!
Let me get one thing out of the way here at the start of the review, if you don’t have time to put hours into a game then Civilization V may not be for you. Heck if you enjoy having a life outside of a game then this might not be for you. I say this because once you sink your teeth into Civilization V it’s easy to loose track of time and become completely engrossed in your quest to build your civilization.
So let me first give you my background in playing Civilization games which is a short one I played the last two games (Civ IV and Civ Revolution) and enjoyed both of them quite a bit. When I started looking at some of the early previews of Civilization V I have to admit I wasn’t sure I was ready to put the time and strategy into the world of Civilization. However from the opening load screen and the first few minutes of my first game I was instantly brought back to remembering why this is such an impressive franchise.
For newcomers to Civilization, Civilization V may be one of the best games to get into. The game has an incredible tutorial and also will help you in your first games with helpful hints throughout. Either way if you have not played a Civilization game before this game seems well suited to hold your hand and then let you on your way. One thing that I found especially useful for me was the advisors in the game who basically give you tips on areas you should focus on in your civilization. You don’t have to take their advice but often times they will all agree on one topic and that usually should be a solid indication that you want to address that area.
One barrier of entry that Firaxis broke down in Civilization V was the menus throughout the game. Where in previous games you were often left wondering what to do next, this is by far the user-friendliest experience I have experienced in any Civilization game. Even as some one who has played Civilization games in the past I was very impressed with how approachable things were in this game, everything just felt far more intuitive then in past games.
What stood out to me most about Civilization V was not only how accessible it was but how great of a strategy experience it manages to be. There is no denying that you can spend a whole day on just one game of Civilization. In fact unless you really have the stamina to play all day most games will span over the course of a couple of 5+ hour sittings. Civilization V (like Civ games before it) has this way of engrossing you into the story even if there isn’t an already established plot. You create your own plot, your own direction, and your own goals. Sure the game does give you hints on how to get the desired outcome but the strategy is so dead on that you have the ability to go your own way to your desired outcome.
A lot of the talk around Civilization V before the games release was on the new hexagon setup which to be honest is a change for the game but nothing that really changes the way you play the game. This is a turn based strategy game through and through and to be honest it is one of the best strategy games I personally have ever played.
Without a doubt Civilization V has a much stronger visual presence then what we had in past Civilization games. The graphics have never been a big part of the Civilization experience however that all changed in this game. Visually this is a stunning game, it has a great mechanic to switch from strategy views to just a global view. If you prefer to look at the game as more of a grid you can do that, if you want to look at the game as a living world you can do that as well. This is by far the best looking Civilization game out there and it once again lessens the blow of how expansive of a strategy game it really is
For newcomers to the series there is of course going to be a learning curve no matter how good the tutorial is. However for seasoned veterans to the series you will be able to jump right in and take advantage of one of the most enjoyable games of strategy I have ever played. What is even more exciting about Civilization V is that you not only can play offline but can play online with friends. There is also going to be an ever-growing population of mods to the game that will continue to increase replay-ability. Let’s face it though I have not played two games of Civilization that ever felt even remotely similar each game feels like a brand new experience.
Civilization V is one of the best strategy games I have ever played. There are some issues but those are so minor in comparison to all the great things Firaxis has done to not only make this accessible to new players but even returning players as well. I can say with great confidence that you will not get a better game of strategy right now then what Civilization V has to offer, it is just that good.
The owner and editor-in-chief of Darkstation.com. I've been apart of the website since 2002 and purchased the website in 2010. Owning and running Darkstation is a dream come true. I love video games and I love writing and talking about them even more.