I originally bought Civilization V because it was bundled with XCOM: Enemy Unknown and was on sale for only $20. Well I bought the bundle and for the longest time I only played XCOM, I mean I was addicted to it (but this blog isn’t about XCOM, so enough about that). A friend of mine saw that I had bought Civ V and asked how I liked it. I told him I hadn’t played it, and he told me I should give it a try. At first I didn’t, but he continued to hound me about playing it. And still I didn’t. But eventually I gave in and gave Civ V a chance oh and I am so happy I did.
Civilization V, as the name might suggest, is the fifth installment of Sid Meier’s landmark game series. In Civ V you take control of a famous civilization/leader and work your way up from scratch to become the leader of the world. Civ V combines the best parts of two of my favorite board games: Risk and Settlers of Catan. Like Catan you collect and horde resources from all over the hexagonal map to build up structures and units, and like Risk you can attack and kill everyone in a smart and intuitive way. When you start you are given a single settler and warrior, from which you can build your capital and start exploring the world around you. You can set up the game to have any number of different nations and city-states, as well as different maps (including one that looks like the real world), you can alter almost any aspect of the game’s settings to make each session variably difficult and unique. On top of the AI civilizations you compete against, you also fight off meddlesome barbarians who will try to steal your units at any chance they get. Each civilization has its own unique troops, improvements, and bonuses allowing for many different gameplay strategies. In one match you might try to conquer the world through a superior military, while another time you might try to become an economic powerhouse, or out science everyone. The games are massive and they will take up a good deal of your time. I guess that’s what you’d expect from a game that spans all of human history, but if you want to play a full game be prepared to waste a good dozen or so hours. To give you a good idea of how long games last my last full playthrough lasted about 6 hours, though I have had some which last twice as long. This is not a game to play casually over a lunch break.
Civilization V is a massive game, I mean it is just stuffed full of content, and that’s all before you get to the expansion packs. The base game costs $29.99 and though it has the makings of a great game, it has many faults. One of the main faults, and one that I think ruins the game, is how terrible the AI is. The AI is awful and often acts sporadically in a way that makes single player gaming a terrible experience. You may be wondering why Civ V is such an amazing if there is such a game-breaking problem in the game, well never fear because the good guys at 2K and Firaxis (the companies that made Civ V) fixed this problem with the first big DLC pack “Gods & Kings.” “Gods & Kings” adds a lot to the game: religion, espionage, new civilizations, as well as improved AI and combat systems. This first DLC makes Civ V an amazing game; I would not recommend buying Civ V without it. Now you can buy the base game for $29.99 and the “Gods & Kings” DLC for another $29.99, but if you bought this you would be missing out on a great deal: Civ V: Gold Edition. Gold Edition costs $49.99 and includes not only the original game and the “Gods & Kings” DLC, but a variety of different civilization and map DLCs. It’s too good to miss out on. Now on top of that Civ V has a new piece of large DLC: “Brave New World.” This DLC adds trade routes, the world congress, and a variety of new civilizations to the game making it all that more fun (think of it like Gold Edition is cake and Brave New World is ice cream, both are good on their own, but together they are just unimaginably tasty). Brave New World costs $29.99.
One of the best parts of the Civilization V experience is the multiplayer. As many times as you can play through by yourself, it cannot compare to fighting someone who is not programmed to act one way or another. It’s fun to team up with your friends to murder Genghis Khan (who is for some reason a very cruel and awful AI), or race to make nukes so you can blow up everyone or… Or I guess just attack people because that is what you will very often find yourself doing. Some of my fondest Civ V memories involve playing a big game with four other guys and exploring the world, killing barbarians, and fighting to rule the world. It’s an amazing and addicting game.
DISCLAIMER: Sid Meier’s Civilization V goes on sale fairly often, so there is no need to buy it for full price. When it does go on sale you can often get it for about 75% off, which means Gold Edition would only cost you about $13, you are crazy not to buy it at this price. “Brave New World” is fairly new so do not expect it to go on sale anytime soon.