In talking to various people over the years, it has become clear to me that we tend to judge things based largely on what they’ve done to us. “Wow, that concert was incredible, I couldn’t hear for days after!” “That party was a blast, I think; I can’t remember a thing! Must’ve had a great time!” “That game is the best, I lost weeks of my life to it!”
The last is something I’ve said often about the various games in the Sid Meier’s Civilization franchise. I don’t know how many weeks, months, even years of time I have devoted to playing them, and frankly I’d be a bit afraid to tally it up. I can say with confidence that it’s a LOT.
Now the new one, Firaxis Games’ Civilization V is out, and it shows every sign of being just as big a time sink as the previous games.
Offering a very clean, simple interface, it’s a much more approachable game than many of the previous titles. It’s not difficult for a newbie to the series to pick right up and get going, and there’s plenty of in-game help to guide the new player up the learning curve.
Veterans might actually have a harder time. My first impression when I started playing was not the familiar addiction – that only came later. Civ V changes a lot of time-honored concepts of the game.
Instead of a square grid of tiles, there is a hexagonal game board. Gone too are the days of stacking units on one space; now every unit must occupy its own space in the world, with a few exceptions like air units. Transport ships for moving land units across the sea are gone now; land units “embark” directly into the ocean, becoming their own slow, helpless transport fleets.
These are welcome, refreshing changes, but they felt very alien at first. It felt like Civ, yet not like Civ. It took a couple of days for me to get past that feeling. Once it did pass, it was a revelation. The game is rejuvenated, and combat is far more fun than it has ever been in the past. No unit stacking forces you to pay a lot of attention to geography and really plan your attacks.
I could go on and on and on… but Egypt has been sending settlers down uncomfortably close to my shores. I’ll have English longbowmen soon to make Ramses II sorry he set foot near me.
Have you got the Civ bug? Going to give it a shot? Been playing lately? Let me know in the comments. I’ll be reading them all after just one more turn.