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Genre: Strategy & War
Min OS X: 10.4

Civilization V
December 20, 2010 | Franklin Pride

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It Looks So Big

Mac OS X: 10.6.4 | CPU: Intel Core 2 Duo 2.4GHz Processor | RAM: 2 GB | Hard Disk: 8 GB | Graphics: 256 MB Video Card - ATI Radeon HD2600, NVidia Geforce 8600

It's been a couple years since the last time Egypt traveled to the moon, and that can only mean one thing. Civilization has once again advanced. In its latest incarnation, Sid Meier's Civilization V from Aspyr Media, brings the usual slew of new features and altered gameplay mechanics. These changes have been mainly successful in the past, and regularly make each member of the turn-based strategy series feel unique in its own way. In one it was a change of perspective, in another it was a greatly expanded research tree and unit tree. What does Civilization V bring to the table?

It brings tactical combat and lots of it. The primary change, and one that changes how combat has been done for four games now, is that all units take up a single space on the world map. That's right, you can no longer stack units. This presents you with numerous tactical considerations that you could ignore before. Choke points can now effectively block gigantic armies with nothing more than a fortress provided by a great general, a longswordsman, and three catapults. It also makes sea travel more important than it has ever been, as it is often the only way to get around the aforementioned choke points without overwhelming force.

Not that you can safely traverse those waters either, though. You can just as easily form blockades of triremes and frigates that destroy attacking armies before they even land. Since all continental units have no attack power at all on the sea (barring the abilities of one civilization), it doesn't take much for a few ships to bring down even the largest army. Since they have to each occupy distinct squares and movement is slowed near hostile units, you can simply form your line and shell them to pieces as they come close. Their movement speed is much slower than your attack ships, so you can also pursue if they turn tail and run. It gets even worse when you reach the stage of aircraft carriers and submarines.

So how do you win a military victory, you may ask? That all depends on how you play in the early game. Due to the fact that all early cities have minimal defense and even a single level for your troops will bring enormous advantages, you quite simply conquer one or two civilizations by hunting barbarians with a group of brutes and heading to the nearest capital. After four or five attacks the city will be yours and you'll have your very own puppet state handing you money, culture, and research. Not that your opponents can't do this to you as well, of course. On the harder difficulty levels, the computer is very effective at that.

The culture system has also received a large overhaul. Now, culture will automatically expand your borders, but the true culture victory comes from reaching culture point landmarks determined by how many cities you have under direct control, number of culture landmarks reached already, and even what wonders you've built. Once you've fully filled out five cards of culture like piety, tradition, and commerce, you get the option to build the utopia wonder. Once that wonder is built, you win the game. What this brings up is an interesting tradeoff. On the one hand, if you directly control a lot of cities, you get loads of production and money. On the other hand, if you get all extra cities by conquering them and making them puppets, you don't face the exponential increase in culture landmark requirements found by directly controlling your empire. This leads to you having to decide how your empire is going to be planned quite early.


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