Civilization has a pretty long history in my house – and not with the usual gamers! Where as my son and youngest daughter are the two biggest gamers in my household aside from myself, my wife and oldest daughter hardly play games. That said, I got Civ II from a friend back in college and loved it. My wife gave it a try on a whim and she also got hooked on it. We played that game like crazy, but then skipped the next couple of iterations, not playing III or IV. I did pick up Civilization: Revolution for my Xbox 360 a couple of years ago or so. My son tried it, but did not really seem to care for it. My oldest tried it, and took right to it, much as her mother had years before with Civ 2.
Well, a few months ago I picked up Civilization V for my PC through Steam. For the uninitiated, this is a simulation title where you take control of a culture set way back at what is essentially the beginning of time. All kinds of different cultures are represented, from the Romans to Americas to the Greeks – so clearly historical accuracy is not a concern. What is important is the depth of strategy as you try to balance your resources, your armies, the land you occupy and how you interact with other nations.
Graphics – 8:
Everything looks great, from the menus to the landscape. The intro movie looks good as well. That said, it is on a PC and I noticed that having the settings up all of the way could cause my system to chug, so I had a tendency to play at a more middling level of detail. Things still look good, but maybe not quite as nice as they would have on a more powerful rig.
Sound & Music – 7:
There is some voice acting, and it is just fine. There is music as well that is just fine. There are also fine sound effects. All of it is good, but none of it is great. As importantly, none of it is bad either. After a while, I sort of tuned most of it out anyway as I was far more focused on the details of building my culture, and somehow this particular set of sounds and music just blended into the background.
Gameplay – 9:
The game is a lot of fun. The combat lacks the depth of a true strategy game, but then military might is but one option. Like other Civilization titles, there are numerous paths to world domination, and it can be a lot of fun exploring them all. For me, science was my most consistent way to way, but other options such as creating an unstoppable military is another route. The different cultures all come with their own benefits, though these seem more important early on. Later in the game those benefits are sort of blurred out as your decisions really take the forefront in your development.
Intangibles – 10:
There is so much to do here. If you like the formula, you can be busy playing and replaying. There are different paths to success and a variety of cultures as I mentioned before. You can also tweak a variety of settings to help customize the experience. In that same train of thought, there is a pretty beefy mod community from what I have read. I don’t really do any modding myself, but for those who do – this is sure to be an option that interests them.
Overall – 9:
This is a game my oldest has since hunkered down to play. Also? I bought it for my wife as well on a Christmas Steam sale. For those looking for a lot of action or in-depth strategic combat, you may come away disappointed. If you are comfortable with and enjoy simulation style games, then Civilization V has a great deal to offer. When I picked it up, it only cost me about $15 for my wife to get it, with all of the expansion packs. At that price it is about impossible to go wrong.