Sid Meier's Civilization V

If you aren't already a Civilization fan this title will easily turn you into one

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Sid Meier's Civilization V Civ V does away with square tiles in favour of hexagonal tiles that won’t allow you to pile your army into one single tile
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By  Jason Saundalkar Published  January 4, 2011

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Key Specs

Online play: Y
Price: $60

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The Civilization series first hit the market in 1991 and since then it has sold more than eight million copies around the world. Sid Meier's Civilization V (Civ V) has massive shoes to fill then and this reviewer is happy to say that it does so with aplomb.

Since Civilization was first launched the basic premise hasn't changed, you still have to lead a civilization from prehistoric times into the future. You can achieve victory via a number of different conditions such as research, economic development and even government and military conquest. While this sounds like a basic premise, the Civilization games have consumed hours and hours of many a gamer's life.

Compared to Civilization IV, Civ V is a different beast in a number of ways. The biggest change is that it now uses a new game engine that features hexagonal tiles, whereas older Civilization title used squares. The result of this shift affects combat heavily. Whereas in older Civilization games you could stack military units into one large group or several smaller ones which could simply rip across a map as an unstoppable force, now, your units must occupy separate tiles on the map. Due to this, you'll have to be careful when it comes to waging war as you could lose a group of units if your foe simply attacks that group with units that exploit the weakness of your units.

Beyond this the new tiles open up strategic options, all of which make Civ V even more addictive than its predecessors. With the new game you can, for instance, have your soldiers positioned ahead of your long range weapons so that they can strike at enemy positions and soften them up before your close range combat units get busy. The sheer number of tactics that you can now use kept this reviewer glued to his desk well into the early hours of the morning.

Another very welcomed change to Civ V is its far more user-friendly interface. The interface's biggest triumph over older Civilization games is that it makes figuring out what to do next simple and straightforward. As a result you've more time to plot world domination and carry out your plans rather than fumbling around trying to figure out what's next. Similarly, the game throws much less information at you so rather than getting overwhelmed, you have just what you need in quick time.

While Civ V has received a number of new features and tweaks (as mentioned earlier), the game has also been stripped of certain features. Most notably, espionage and religion have been removed completely and while some gamers may not miss these aspects of the game, this reviewer reckons that they should have just been left in, as they never really took anything away from the game.

To enjoy Civilization V you'll need a fairly powerful rig because although it may not seem as intensive as a modern FPS title or a racer, it does pack some serious visual punch. The visuals are bright and vibrant and if you pay close attention to the map, you'll notice waves gently breaking on shorelines, clouds and much more. There really is a lot of detail, most of which will be missed unless you pay close attention.        

On the audio front classical music lovers will fall in love with Civ V because there's nothing but elegant, soothing orchestral tunes from numerous composers such as Mahler and Grieg. Besides music, the sound effects fit the game perfectly and battles are particularly entertaining to listen to, and watch.

One complaint with Sid Meier's Civilization V is that, like all Steam-reliant games, you need to have an active Internet connection to install the title. For users still using dial-up connections this could be a bit of an issue. Considering most gamers will buy the game off store shelves in this region (to avoid the multi gigabyte Steam download), it should be possible to enjoy Civ V without an active Internet connection at all.

Likewise, the seemingly constant automatic updates that you're forced to put up with, can take a long time even on the fastest Internet connections (a recent Steam update took 30 minutes to complete) and, as Steam users know, you can't play when a game is being updated. Surely with a game as addictive as Civilization V, it should be possible to play the game while an update downloads quietly in the background, so you can install it at your convenience.

For: Civ V is even more addictive than before thanks to its new hexagonal tile setup. The sheer number of tactical options will keep you playing until your fingers bleed.
Against: You'll need a high-end rig to enjoy it.
Verdict: The Civilization series just seems to get stronger and stronger with each new game. Be prepared to lose hours of your life once you start playing this addictive turn-based strategy title.

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