Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Civilization V Review

Hi, my name is Vince. And I'm a Civ addict. I've been playing it since the very first Civilization game came out, plunking down hours, days, months into every Civ incarnation, all the way up to Civilization Revolution on the PS3. So when Civ V came along, I promptly dropped Starcraft 2 and began playing -- a tall order since I'm a big Starcraft 2 fan too. I played for half a day straight, sleeping in the wee hours of the night to finally conquer the Germans and win an overpowered military victory. I was thrilled, I was ecstatic. Here was a Civ game that was better than previous Civ games in so many ways. Then I went to sleep, woke up, and changed my mind about everything. Here was a better game, yes, but in the light of day, I knew that it wasn't a better Civ.

Don't get me wrong. I loved many things about Civ V. The new battle system was more fluid and more logical than the old stacking system used in Civ IV, or Civ Revolution. No more super armies roaming the land. And the controversial hexagons also worked well. Above all, the game just moved better than any Civ game. Tedious micro-management was mostly banished (though you can go into deep detail if you want to). Cities revolting was a thing of the past. All good stuff.

My bone to pick with the new Civ V is the government system. On a philosophical level, I agree with the new system. Yes, governments are basically a cultural experiment which you can customize according to your whim. The Philippines for example is a democratic republic, but there are times when our government has strong overtones of an oligarchy, or a socialist republic, and at times a fundamentalist religious state. In Civ V, you're always inventing your form of government, so you can recreate our democratic socialist fundamentalist oligarchy if you want to. The thing is, I miss the drama that government used to create. And without these old forms of government, the game is poorer.

I loved sweeping through Europe as Communist Russia. Or crushing those backwards Fundamentalists who declared a jihad on me. I longed for the days when I changed History as an uber-scientific Arabic republican empire. That was the Civ experience that I loved. I read a review online that said basically the same thing as I'm saying right now, and I didn't understand what the reviewer meant until I played the game myself. The new Civ feels -- pun unintended -- politically correct and stale. It's a better game in almost every way. But you know what? Being a better game doesn't make it better.

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