Own The World, Lose Your Time
Back in the late 1990s, my parents bought me a pretty old Mac from a friend my mother worked with. On this computer was Civilization II, thrown in with a bunch of other games I spent my late Middle School to High School years playing. Little did I know this was the beginning of an obsession that would last over 3 more games and 10 more years of my life. I had no idea what I was doing, but I had many a late night trying to slowly take over the world. So as you would probably expect, this review is coming from some one who has spent a good amount of time with the series. Civilization 5 is, at least in my eyes, everything a Civilization game should have and be.
I guess the first thing you would point to if you really wanted to dissect the game, would be that compared to it's last predecessor the game is really stripped down. I've played a whole lot of Civ 4: BTS, and yes, there are quite a few things I miss, but that doesn't mean that the game is immediately bad because it's simplified. Civilization 5 still retains a lot of great things from the past, and always remember, there's probably more to come in the form of DLC and expansion packs.
The amount of features they took out may outweigh the amount of stuff they put in, but the things they did put in are very cool. Social policies are the best part of the game in my eyes, I love the sheer amount of choice they allow. They, for sure, beat the living hell out of the civics system from Civ 4. City-States are also a neat little addition, it's kind of a pain in the ass to maintain them on the quicker game modes, but I've found that on Epic/Marathon that they can be pretty useful, especially the militaristic cities. I do miss religion, corporations, and espionage, but I'm sure they'll be eventually added in some form or another in a later add-on (there may be some form of espionage in the game, but I'm not too sure on that).
The game, as you can probably tell by the screenshots, is far and away the best looking Civ game in the series. The animations are very smooth and fluid, and the textures look great on the higher settings. Some in-city improvements like wonders now show on the outside tiles, and they look pretty amazing (Machu Pichhu is my favorite so far). I was also pretty stunned when I saw one of my Great People build a university outside my city on a tile. I also like how you can see them building your wonders and improvements, it's the little touches like that that make me giddy.
Hexes are also a welcome addition, and I definitely enjoy them over squares, but this brings me to one of the most controversial changes to the game. Stacks of doom have been a part of the series since the very beginning, but I've always found them a bit jarring. You had seven units in one tile, but it always looked like there was only one unit in that tile. To me, it always looked like there was just one dude standing there with a club, not an army. This changed a bit in Civ 4, but in the latest game I found it pretty epic to watch your forces move towards the enemy's capitol. It also makes you value each unit more, and lets you spend your resources on other things besides your military. Though, improvements in your city now take longer to build, but I thought it was pretty well balanced.
I've yet to complete a full game, but I was never able to really play on any of the quick game speeds in the other games either. I never really found anything with the game that I disliked, besides that douche Alexander talking crap to me. The new combat system is great, and a whole lot of fun to play around with. There's so many changes, that I could sit here typing to you about whether I like them or not, but in my opinion, the positives outweigh the negatives. Other Civ games were a bit too overwhelming for the new players, and yes, if you want to be the overly negative, I guess you can say it was dumbed down just to bring newbies into the series. Look at it this way though, maybe playing this game will expand their interest in the other games, you never know. There's no reason to be overly negative about this game, it's very well made and as I said before, it's everything that a Civilization game should be. This game deserves your money whether you're a fan of strategy games who never got into it, or a seasoned veteran who's a bit salty over the changes.