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Civilization V

 

 

SCORE: 86

 

Civilization V 

 

If you’ve ever thought that the world would be a better place if you were in charge, now’s your chance to prove it. The latest in the long running Civilization series will yet again put you in charge of some of history’s greatest civilizations.

The first thing I noticed about this game was the amazingly lifelike opening cinematic. I’ve scarcely seen such a realistic animated sequence in a video game. I watched this scene twice just to enjoy the incredible animation. The in-game graphics are colorful and emulate real world terrain pretty well. While the graphics in the game aren’t necessarily stunning, the quality of the work is certainly top notch for the genre. The ambient animations add a very nice realism to the environment as you explore the wide open world. The menus and interfaces are full of detail as well making even the most menial of tasks visually stimulating. One of the best things about the visual design of this game is the way that the creators have tactfully dealt with the war imagery. Obviously war is going to be a part of this turn-based strategy game, but who says there needs to be blood and gore to convey the message? When your units attack other units you’ll see flying arrows and swinging swords, but none of the usual carnage that follows. Fallen enemies vanish almost immediately leaving no dead bodies lying around. Firaxis Games has proven that you can convey the essence of war without showing all the messy details. While the imagery of war and loss are found in this game, one could hardly ask that it be done with any more decency than this.

The musical scores in the game are fantastic. Depending on which of the eighteen possible civilizations you choose to play as, the background music will reflect that particular culture. For example when I chose to play as America, a very soft and subtle rendition of America the Beautiful played in the background as I began building my empire. As you would expect, the sound effects are great as well. The sounds of war and death can be prominent at times during battles, but it is again done tastefully.  Players will also find a substantial amount of voice acting in Civilization V. Your advisors will give you vocal suggestions periodically and the narrator will voice small parts after specific upgrades or accomplishments. Another pleasant surprise in this game was the fact that several Bible passages are displayed and read aloud by the narrator. These are typically passages relating in some small way to a certain upgrade or research that has been completed. There are also famous quotes from various individuals, but it was refreshing to see some Biblical truth shining through in this big budget game.

To say that this game could keep players occupied for years is not an exaggeration. The single player mode alone would allow for virtually unlimited variations of gameplay each time through. Different Civilizations offer different technologies or exclusive perks encouraging you to try out each one. In addition to the single player mode, you have the option of LAN or on-line multiplayer to compete against others aspiring to rule the world. As if this weren’t enough, Civilization V has also integrated a mod interface to allow players to share custom content. Having this built right into the game interface is a brilliant idea and allows for the gaming community to contribute even more content to this already massive game. Even though the game has only been out for a little over a week, there are already a handful of mods available. Some of the mods that I viewed allow players to add new civilizations to the game, enable multiple units to occupy the same tile on the game board, and even add a new combat unit named “tiny death robots”. With all of this content also comes the ability for this game to be addictive and very time consuming. Players should be careful not to allow this game affect their lives by eating up hours of their day.

The core gameplay of Civilization V is like that of the previous releases in the franchise. Though there are many advances, it is still a classic turn-based strategy game. The game offers eight difficulty settings, so players who have never experienced Civilization before should not be afraid to start now. Civilization V has tons of help available to those unfamiliar with the game. This can come in the form of tips from your advisers or simple suggestions or hints on the screen. Seasoned players looking for a challenge need not fear. Crank up the difficulty and let your feverish strategy commence. There are loads of other advanced settings that players can tweak to play the game the way they see fit. The new diplomacy features add a more depth and realism to the Civilization experience. When you encounter another powerful nation you can access the diplomacy menu and attempt to negotiate terms or trade goods with them. As you would expect, not every nation is overly friendly or cooperative. Be careful how you respond to them though, you may regret it later. This game is enjoyable to play and there are so many dimensions to it that it’s impossible to cover all of the aspects of gameplay that you will experience. Due to the nature of the game, players will be required to go to war or at the very least defend themselves against attack. If this is something that you’re uncomfortable with, this probably isn’t a game for you.

I wasn’t sure going into this exactly how family friendly Civilization V was going to be. I was pleased to find that the developers chose to exercise tact and focus on quality gameplay instead of explicit scenes of violence. The game’s Everyone 10+ rating is very appropriate in my opinion and parents should feel confident that even though this is a war game, it is not likely that you will find a less violent war game. The passages from the Bible are a nice touch as well as other inspirational quotes from various historical figures. I did not encounter any quotes or passages pertaining to other religions during the time I played the game, but it stands to reason that there may be other religions represented as well. The game has a way of stealing time away from you, so I would again caution players not to allow themselves to get addicted to or overly wrapped up in their quest for world domination.
-Roger

 

Graphics: 81%
Sound: 96%
Replay/Extras: 90%
Gameplay: 86%
Family Friendly Factor: 76%
System: Personal Computer
Publisher: 2K Games
Rating: 'E10+' for Everyone 10+
{Drug Reference, Mild Language, Mild Violence}

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Roger@familyfriendlygaming.com