Appletell reviews Civilization V

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Category: God Game
Developer: Firaxis
Mac Port By: Aspyr
System Requirements: Mac OS v10.6.4 (Snow Leopard), Intel Core 2 Duo (Dual-Core), 2GB RAM, 8GB free disk space, DVD Drive for disc-based installation, Steam account for Steam installation
Review Computer: iMac 3.06GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, 4GB RAM and 2.26GHz 13” Macbook Pro, 2GB RAM, NVIDIA GeForce 9400M with 256MB of DDR3 SDRAM
Network Feature: Yes, multiplayer
Processor Compatibility: Intel
Price: $49.99
Availability: Out now

They’ve changed combat. That’s the big thing you need to know about Civilization V, the newest version of the venerable God Game where you take a tiny village and build it (hopefully) into a world-conquering nation. Military units can’t stack (with a few exceptions), which means you can’t have 100 unit strong armies on a single tile, attacking or defending endlessly in a single turn. If you want to lay siege to a city, you’ll have to surround it with units, bombarding it with artillery units while melee forces wait for the defenses to be worn down. Likewise, only one unit can garrison in a city (and cities can now defend themselves), meaning the arms race in Civ V isn’t to build more units, but to build stronger units.

civilization 5 combat

This change does a lot to demphasize conquest as the primary way of winning the game. It still works, of course, especially if you can get more advanced technology to help you pound away at weaker forces. Everyone has smaller armies, so the game isn’t just a grind to create as many units as possible (a problem that’s been creeping into the gameplay against AI in recent years).

The other big change is the way religion is handled. In Civ IV, individual religions (like Taoism, Christianity, and Islam) could be founded by the first civilization to achieve the appropriate research. This has been eliminated. You can still build city improvements like temples and cathedrals, but they contribute to your culture, which in turn allows you to shape the policies that define your culture. Will you instill the value of Honor in your people (making them more effective warriors) or invest in Commerce. The nice thing about this is that it’s not an either/or proposition. You can invest in all the policies, but only one step at a time. Bigger cultural bonuses are available only after buying the initial steps.

There are a ton of other refinements. Units can now “embark” over the water on their own, without need for a transport. Civs can enter into secret compacts with other civs (covert alliances to hinder the development of an enemy without letting the enemy know about it), and enter into technology pacts to do research together. There are a lot of new refinements that will give new players a steep learning curve (especially due to a lack of an in-game tutorial, although their are numerous tips from your AI advisors about what to do next).

But for those who already know and love the Civilization games, the heart of it hasn’t changed. Improve your cities, explore the world, research technologies, forge alliances, and fight wars. The combat changes are going to annoy some players, but I think it helps focus the game on a more subtle, political approach to winning the game, rather than just trying to build the biggest army as quickly as possible. It makes it less of a war game, and more of a game about balancing alliances, trade, and science. More about a total civilization.

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Civilization V review

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