"The presentation is gorgeous, the gameplay is stunning and the memories are unforgettable."
Civilization V is the fifth instalment of Sid Meier's Civilization franchise for computer, which in recent years has moved on to handhelds and consoles. If you're unaware of it, the Civilization franchise is of the real-time strategy genre, though Civilization V goes for more of a turn-based approach with role-playing elements. This, in turn, makes it easier for those who haven't already gotten into the franchise or familiarised themselves with a real-time strategy genre, although it's not really as fast paced as other games in the same genre. Sid Meier has developed other hit games over the years, such as Sid Meier's Pirates! and Sid Meier's Alpha Centuri. With his development studio, Firaxis, he's been a widely known developer for the past two decades. Civilization V is one of his works, and it's a great one at that.
The plot of Civilization V is that you're one of many civilisations who are rising to be one of the greatest civilisations to ever exist. You have a range of several nations, such as Germany, Japan, Russia and Greece. Each nation has a different leader, such Oda Nobunaga for Japan and Alexander the Great for Greece and each of them have a description about their lives. It's an engaging history lesson and it keeps the gamer interested not only in the game, but in the characters/civilisations they're portraying as. Each nation has its own set of unique abilities and a different building or unit that the other countries won't have, such as the Samurai, which is exclusive to Japan. Additionally, if the player requires more of a story-based experience, there are Scenarios that the player can dive into, each with their own unique storylines and objectives. Usual playthroughs of a Civilization V game can last for several hours, so be prepared to have late night sessions, as you'll be thoroughly addicted.
When you begin a game of Civilization V, you'll notice that you begin with two units – a settler and a warrior, though as you're looking at them, it just looks like a group of people. When you're ready, you can allow the Settler to find a city and once you've done that, you've now built your Capital City! Your civilisation has been started and now it's your job the build it to the point where you're either the most economically, scientifically, socially or militaristic nation in all of the land. At first, your civilisation will be rather small and insignificant, but as you progress, you'll become a large nation of several buildings and a large population that would make all of your rivals envious of your glorified, awesome empire. However, to make your civilisation actually prosper and grow, you're going to need resources and in order to obtain those resources, you're going need Workers to build farms, create trading posts and build mines to keep your civilisation intact. Without food, your civilisation will slowly die and without production, your civilisation won't be able to create buildings that will help your units or population. In order to create certain units, you'll need some sort of resource, such as Iron or Horses and those units are usually the stronger ones until later in the game. This causes the player to know that they can't just build whatever they want – they have to think carefully about their next action, and if another civilisation is eyeing your precious Iron, you better mine it before they even get the chance to touch it.
Throughout the course of the game, the player will obtain many forms of Science in order to keep their civilisation up to date for the time period. Maintaining Science is a vital importance and it's definitely one of those things that the player should focus on. Firstly, a Science is basically something your civilisation will have to create new buildings and units, if you don't have a good grasp on Science, you're civilisation will fall behind and inevitably will be crushed by those who oppose you. With Science, your civilisation adapts to new changes, and in turn, starts to become more modern. There are a certain amount of Sciences that belong to an era and once you've required a certain amount, you'll go into another era. Additionally, there are units called "Great Scientists" that have a special ability to find a Science without putting an amount of time – which becomes extremely helpful as the game progresses.
In addition to Great Scientists, there are several other "Great" people that enhance your civilisation in ways that would make your foes envious. Depending on how one of your cities may be doing, they'll eventually start to create Great People depending on what buildings you have. Besides from the Great Scientist, which can find discover a Science with ease, there are four other Great People – Engineer, Artist, Merchant and General. The Great Engineer is used to speed up production on whatever your city is building, depending on which one it's in. The Great Artist can "culture bomb" an area that is right next to your nation that does not belong to you and is used quite mercilessly during war. The Great Merchant can conduct trade missions with City States, which will put in you in good terms with the City State you've chosen. The Great General gives your combat units a boost, which is also quite useful for war.
To win a game of Civilization V, you're given five different methods to do so – Time, Domination, Cultural, Science and Diplomatic. While each country has their own unique abilities that seem like it can be easy to grab a victory of a certain type, such as China's ability to acquire Great Generals far more quickly than other nations for a Domination Victory or the Aztec's ability to gain culture from every enemy they kill for a Cultural Victory, you'll find yourself changing the type of victory you're going for. To gain a Domination Victory, all the player has to do is eliminate the other nations in the game and this can become possibly one of the most engaging victories to obtain. To gain a Science Victory, the player must start the Space Race, build all the parts of a spaceship and bring them all to the Capital. To gain a Cultural Victory, the player must complete five Policy Trees and build the Utopia Project. A Diplomatic Victory is gained by being allied with the majority of City States and a Time Victory is gained depending on how many points you have at a certain year. If another nation gets even one of those victories, it's Game Over, so try as hard as you can to become victorious!
Social Policies, like Sciences, is another mechanic that is used for developing your civilisation, but rather than it giving you new buildings and units, it allows your civilisation to have certain aspects that other countries would otherwise not have. There are ten social policies in the game, though completing them all in one game seems highly unlikely. Some enhance your military, while others may enhance how much food your cities will have. Unlike Sciences, which can be brushed over once you've reached a certain era, Social Policies are permanent and are a great help, even if you've completed one of the ten trees. For example, in the Piety Tree, there's an ability that actually hinders your opposing nations grasp on a City State's alliance. This, in turn, allows you to quickly take them for yourself, giving you more of an edge over your opponents. In order to gain Social Policies, you'll need a decent output of Culture, which is either given naturally through abilities, such as France's or the Aztec's, buildings or Man-Made Wonders.
Man-Made Wonders – or as the game has them simply put, "Wonders" – are gained throughout discovering certain Sciences. While Sciences give you more units and buildings, they also give you the ability to create Wonders, which have their own abilities and output of commodities, like money or Culture. However, building Wonders is like a one hundred metre dash – whoever finishes first gets the gold. If another nation builds a Wonder more quickly than you – that is, to say, complete the Wonder before you – than your production will halt immediately and the Production used to build the Wonder will instead be put into other things your other cities are creating at the time. In addition to Man-Made Wonders, there are also Natural Wonders that you can find over the course of the game which, while sounding interesting, don't really contribute much to the overall gameplay and seem like they just get in the way.
As your civilisation grows more powerful and potent, it would seem that your enemies do as well. However, you'll begin to notice that not everyone wants you dead. When you meet another nation for the first time, they will greet you and they will hope to form good relations over the coming years, or in your case, hours. Over the course of the game, if you've formed good bonds with another nation, they will ask for a Declaration of Friendship, which is make you somewhat of an ally. You can also open your borders to countries if they wish to pass, though this can be seen as suspicious at times. You can also make Research Agreements with them, speeding up the process it takes to discover Sciences. If they're about to start a war with a troublesome nation, they'll ask you for assistance and it's your choice to help them or not. However, if you start warmongering too much, they'll start to hold you in contempt, denounce you and eventually, war with you. The bonds of friendship aren't too strong in the world of Civilization.
When you're involved in a War, this is when the game becomes the most engaging. War in Civilization V can work in two ways – offensively or defensively. Usually, when a country declares a war on you, they've already sent their units to attempt to destroy you. However, if you're the one defending, you're bound to have far more units at your cities than they do sending to you. Combat works in a rather interesting fashion. Before you attack the enemy units, the game will display the amount of damage both sides are about to do. You'll be damaged the most or your opponent will be; however, each side may have bonuses, whether it is from abilities the units gain from defeating enough enemies to have gained a satisfactory amount of experience or surroundings, such as being across a river. In order to end a war, you can either annihilate your opponent from existence or create a Peace Treaty that last ten turns. If you're completely dominating during the war, you can also bargain for some of their resources, or better yet, their cities.
Dominating the world by yourself may seem boring at times, so why not do it with a friend? Thankfully, Civilization V offers a multiplayer experience in which you and several of your friends can have an engaging session. You can either have a massive free-for-all game or all unite to be one team to defeat the AI. In addition to this online service, Firaxis has made a section for which people can distribute modifications to the game, possibly due to the fact that the main designer of Civilization V is from the modding community. With online multiplayer and modifications, this creates more of wider experience for Civilization V; not limiting any possibility that one may believe that would restrict gamers from enjoying the game.
However, like every game, Civilization V isn't a perfect experience. For example, multiplayer is the most flawed thing in the entire game. There are occasions when the game will start loading again halfway through a session and while in the lobby, there's a possibility that the host will cut out, thus not making everything you and your friends have strived for have any value whatsoever. There are times when the game will also crash during multiplayer, putting the player off from playing it whatsoever. Also, there are few minor glitches here and there, which aren't harmful in anyway, but if you're someone who likes to pay attention and enjoys everything to be consistent, then this may get on your nerves.
Nonetheless, Civilization V is a brilliant addition to the turn-based strategy genre, giving the player wider options of gameplay and with an addicting nature, it's no wonder why Firaxis has put in a lot of time and effort into this gift of fun. There are several downloadable content packs of additional countries, such as Babylon. While it's multiplayer can be rather troublesome at times and there are minor problems occasionally, it truly is an engaging experience. It's thoroughly addicting and enjoyable to the fullest. Without a doubt, it's ranks up there with one of the "must-have" games on the computer. The presentation is gorgeous, the gameplay is stunning and the memories are unforgettable. Civilization V is an absolute delight to play and it stands tall above the rest.