Developer Firaxis Games
Platform Onlive & PC
Release Date Out Now
Sid Meier is responsible for hundred of thousands of hours of lost man hours and with Civ 5 that trend is set to continue in what is one of the finest turn based strategy games you can buy. As you take your civilization from its roots all the way through to the space race you will notice a number of new features. The game world is still reminiscent of a board game but with the playing surface now split up into hexagonal tiles rather than square tiles, with the change in shape you are given far more tactical options when strategically placing your units.
Sticking with tradition Civ5 lets you take your Civilization from a single city to world domination and through each of the definitive historical era’s. How your civilization evolves is determined by how you play, will you lead with diplomacy or build a Utopian paradise or simply flex your military might the decision is up to you.
For those new to the series you may initially be put off by the sheer over whelming amount of action and information that is constantly popping up on the screen. You are managing units, researching, building, capturing or defending cities, running trade missions and all the time developing your own cities to reflect your own rhetoric but don’t be put off as everything will soon start to make sense the longer you stick with it.
The developers make good use of a easy to navigate menu system coupled with a icon driven interface that is quickly mastered. The one issue I had was switching units automatically. Many a move was wasted in the late hours of the night when you are not at full mental capacity and you stop noticing the wrong units are highlighted.
As mentioned earlier the new hexagonal tiles offer something new to the series, you can no longer stack units either so you have to take into account the range of units going into battle and to position them correctly while also factoring each units vulnerabilities. Long range units like Archers or catapults can attack across a number of tiles but are extremely vulnerable to ground troops. While the ground troops like your spear or sword men have short attack ranges so need to get in close this also makes them vulnerable to long range air attacks. Finding the balance is key and making use of the hexagonal layout allows you to move units in formation.
The visuals have had a nice make over too for the most part although some of the advisers that appear in the windows are bizarrely retro looking. On the map you will notice lovely new animations, each unit is now represented by a small animated version. This makes the battles far more enjoyable and despite the scale they are used effectively to represent each unit type and to give you an insight into how to use them effectively.
As this was played on Onlive’s cloud gaming platform it is only fair to talk about how it handled the game. Civ 5 is a game that needs plenty of resources and with the new graphical improvements not every PC can run it, but with Onlive doing the heavy lifting for you off site you can run this on pretty much any mid ranged PC comfortably. There is a small amount of deterioration in the graphics as your stream is limited by your internet connection, mine being pretty poor at the moment but it was still able to deliver stutter free gaming it just didn’t look as amazing as perhaps it could have running on my machine locally. It is a small bit of a trade off. You do loose a small bit of quality but you get past needing hard drive space or having to download a huge file on a digital delivery system. Another bonus for Onlive players is that they are now running a promotion where by if you purchase the new DLC expansion pack Gods and Kings you will receive Civ 5 for free!
Overall : Sid Meier’s Civ 5 is just what you want from the series, it keeps its strong traditional roots but builds on evolving the game something quite difficult in a turn based strategy such as this. Fans of the series will be delighted with the improvements and fans new to the series will find the new animations and layouts much easier to digest.
As always the different ways to eventually win the game the varying locations and societies to lead mean that you have endless hours of playing before you even go near the excellent well rounded mulitplayer games or DLC expansion packs.