Sid Meier's Civilisation V Review

Image for Sid Meier's Civilisation V

The world is yours


Whether it be fragging the Covenant in Halo: Reach, butt-stomping bad guys in Super Mario Galaxy 2 or saving the universe in Starcraft II, 2010’s best titles have all given players a tremendous rush of power, rewarding gaming prowess with the feeling that you’re rubbing shoulders with gaming gods. And if it’s another shot of empowering thrills you’re looking for, they don’t come more satisfying than the all-conquering Civilization V.

As with every game in the 20 year-old series, the idea is to use every ounce of strategic skill to conquer the world, even if that means changing the course of history to suit your own ends. But while its heart remains the same, Civilization V has been given a much-needed overhaul that widens its appeal and makes the combat more fun and compelling than ever before.

From a streamlining perspective, Civilization V does away with much of the fussiness of its predecessor. It’s best exemplified by the use of a tweaked advisor system that acts as a guiding light for those unsure what to do next, and helps greener players get used to the responsibilities of holding the reins of power. Stunning graphics and slick presentation also go a long way to making this a more welcoming package for those new to the world of Civilization, and while there will doubtless be haters who feel this fresh approach is dumbing down one of the deepest and most intelligent strategy games in history, it nonetheless makes for a more approachable experience that will welcome new fans into the fold.

But what’s most remarkable about the fifth Civ is that the cheap strategy of ‘stacking’ army units on the same space has been removed, instead only allowing players to have one unit on each six-sided tile. In practice, this means that players now have to think carefully about using the terrain, placing units in the most efficient order and outflanking enemy troops, rather than creating a super-army that can roll unchallenged across the maps like a tank. Unlike in previous Civs, battles are never decided on a single move, making for some of the deepest, most exciting skirmishes in any strategy game and giving players a tremendous sense of reward when cunning plans pay off.

Minor niggles such as trouble moving large armies through narrow spaces and poorly implemented city-states are only a small annoyance in an otherwise excellent package, which marks another sublime showing for Sid Meier’s evergreen classic.