Cue "Also Sprach Zarathustra"
Prior to Civilization V, I cannot remember the last time I sat down with a game for an entire Saturday morning… and subsequent afternoon. Civ V’s addictive time-draining nature is understandable when considering that the game unfolds like an abridged and anachronistic version of the entire course of human civilization via turn-based strategy gameplay mechanics. Players control one of nearly twenty leaders and the civilization they represent. Empires are expanded through the settlement of cities that cultivate gold, science, culture, and happiness. These resources, among others, aid in bringing civilizations closer to victory, which can be obtained through a number of means – from gaining favor of the United Nations to worldwide military domination. Seemingly unassuming factors such as geography greatly alter the effectiveness of empires, as farms have a greater yield on wheat fields, pearls can only be found in oceans, and so on. However, such daunting micromanagement factors do not discourage newcomers because Civ V does a magnificent job of putting these headier gameplay elements on autopilot until the player gets a better understanding of them. Through the course of exploration and expansion the player will inevitably encounter other civilizations, which can be every shade between friend and foe. Unfortunately, interacting with them often feels distant, as they seem unreasonably steadfast when it comes to diplomacy. However, much of the game’s appeal comes from the off-kilter ways that the globe can develop. Astronomy can be invented before the wheel, Gandhi can lead India in a nuclear war against Persia, and Miles Davis can arrive in the Iriquois Empire during the 13 century – I have seen this all happen. With a number of different civilizations, victory conditions, difficulty levels, map variants, and thousands of years of human history, Civilization V offers depth, breadth, accessibility, and a compelling alternative to sleep.