Sunday 21 June 2015

Sid Meier's Civilization V: Complete Edition (PC)

I cover the complete edition of Sid Meier’s Civilization V, a turn based strategy game currently available in the Steam Sale for PC, but only for a limited time.

One of my favourite PC games is the Civilization franchise, and I’m a sucker for empire building so naturally there was no way I was going to pass up on this game, especially having played both III and IV in the franchise before. However, despite purchasing the game a few years ago, it was only recently when I upgraded to a new PC that I was able to play this instalment in the franchise, as the previous laptop did not meet the game’s requirements. And as it just so happens I was able to upgrade a month or so before the Steam Summer Sale, where I snapped up a lot of games for way cheaper than I would have gotten them otherwise (I'll have a post up later in the week). It also has the Complete Edition of Civ 5 (collecting all of the expansions, Gods & Kings and Brave New World) on sale as well,, which I brought as part of that collection, and if you haven’t brought them already and your PC can support the game, then it’s pretty much an essential purchase for any gamer because Civilization V is one of the best strategy games that you will play, ever.

You take command as one of multiple nations, each with their own perks and bonuses (for example, England get a Unique Unit, a Ship of the Line, and increased speed for their Naval Units), and start off with a Settler and a Warrior Unit on a map of your choosing from the many options available, and your goal is to forge an empire that will stand the test of time and ultimately accomplish a victory through the many different approaches. Victory approaches include a domination victory, which puts the emphasis on the military approach, a Scientific Victory and a Diplomatic Victory, among others. Each have their own appeal and you can never, unless you decide to, play the game the same way twice. You will always be spawned in different places even if you pick the same map again and there’s always plenty of other nations to interact with, independent city states to ally with and barbarians to fight against that makes the game have plenty of needed depth.

Added with the Brave New World and Gods & Kings expansion packs, which can be brought separately or as a complete edition, you also get various other factors like religion, tourism, and more civilizations, units and buildings that help add a lot of depth to the game, because the amount of content on display here is seriously huge. The standalone game is serviceable but if you’re looking for something that will have a lot of content, the expansion packs are essential. There’s no strict storyline that you have to follow (even in pre-set scenarios which you can tackle, taking on famous conflicts in history, you can have your own say), and how you approach your game is up to you. Play the way you want, and that’s really the biggest choice available in both multiplayer and in the standard game. Do you want to pummel your opponents into submission as a warmongering dictator? Or do you want to be a smooth-talking diplomatic genius who can avoid war in favour of the smarter approach? The choice is yours, but it’s always best to have a few military units on hand especially when playing with barbarians and against the more aggressive factions, who will quickly look to attack your land should you get on their bad side.

This brings me to the biggest problem that I have with Civilization V, and that’s the AI. It’s not perfect, and can be annoying at times. It’s hard not to avoid a domination approach when playing, as the AI can often be aggressive when they venture near your borders. The game itself also offers interesting tactical approaches, with hexagon-shaped tiles making up the map; you can no longer stack your units, with multiple archers for example no longer allowed on the same tile. You have to think tactically about where to move them and it’s a trait that’s worked, especially with the terrain having an impact on the outcome of the conflict between your units and the opponents. Capturing cities is a lot harder as well, and depending on the difficulty, I found that the best approach was probably five plus units depending on the city’s size, with two catapults, multiple archers and at least two close combat units who have to be there to take the city.

The graphics look absolutely gorgeous and this is one of the best looking strategy games that I’ve had the pleasure to play. It looks clean, polished and detailed and it really helps that the interface is incredibly user friendly, able to appeal to someone who’s never played a Civilization game before with the with great effect. However, if there is one negative to the game’s look, Leonard Nimoy no longer provides voiceovers, which is something that’s missed from the previous version. It’s also worth noting that the massive depth of content that comes with the Complete Edition (that as of typing I believe is still on sale on Steam) is far superior over what the game has to offer on its own.

So in conclusion, for any fans of strategy games who have a powerful enough PC, you’ve probably already brought Civilization V, but if not then now might just be the perfect time. Get the complete edition in the Encore Summer Sales ASAP before they expire (the complete edition is worth it even if you own the main game already for the current price – there’s just so much new content plus you get the added bonus of more factions), and that should keep you occupied for the rest of the Summer. Even though I have multiple games installed on my laptop I still keep coming back time and time again to this game, and I’m still not tired of it. It’s just excellent, and comes highly recommended.

VERDICT: 9.75/10

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