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Genre: Strategy & War
Min OS X: 10.6

Civilization V: Cradle of Civilization Maps Bundle
October 17, 2011 | David Wilkin

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Requires Sid Meier's Civilization V in order to play.

by David William Wilkin

Syria, the country of Georgia, Pakistan and roughly the state of Virginia. Those were the locations of the world I had the fortune to begin my civilizations from in my recent play through on the four expansion maps from Firaxis and Aspyr Media in their Cradle of Civilization line for Civilization V. These four, Asia, the Americas, Mesopotamia and the Mediterranean provide our real world as the canvas that one paints an empire upon. These are now Downloadable Content (DLC) at $2.99 each to add to the basic game of Civilization, and though they do nothing to change the mechanics of Civ play, they give new worlds for players to conquer. At least when you start as a band of wondering nomads in 4000 BC, the entire planet is really a new world to conquer.

At first, of course, with a barely visible horizon, it was hard to know where my civilizations were founded, and thinking that the clue, such as the name Asia Map, or the Americas would help, just was not the case. In the case of the Mediterranean map, for instance, it was huge and it took well over 200 turns before I knew I was stuck up in the Caucasus. As mentioned, the country of Georgia was my rough location there, and once I encountered the Black Sea, not knowing that it was other than a body of water, I spent over 100 turns thinking it was the Med, especially as to my south at cresting the base of the sea, was Egypt. Take that Ramses! And why, pray tell, is your empire in Turkey! (I was Caesar and my legions surely should have been striking out from Italy for the glory of the Roman Empire.)

Actually all four maps left one wondering where you really were for well over 100 turns. In each case the maps are quite sizable and that makes the game. Should they have been small, should it have been over too soon, or there had been not enough land mass to spread an empire out, then surely the feel of our earth would have not been as challenging as it was. That though is the Caveat Emptor moment with the series. There are a great many times when one plays in the Civ universe, in any game in the series and you wonder at game play/game scale decisions. Is it right to think that your unit of warriors can only move so far in a 20 year turn? Later on as the world advances, if you still have such a unit, they will still move the same distance. And that distance is really a different scale in each of these four maps.

It is a sacrifice one makes to play Civilization. To suspend your notion of how much travel can be done in a set amount of time, or how long it takes to make a Wonder or how long to discover a new technology. Having played in the series since itís first release, it works as a game, and if you wish to delve into more realistic versions of world/empire building, especially with Earth as a model, Paradox has a full line in the Europa Universalis motif, though they do not unite in one game to take you from 4000 BC to the Space Race as Civilization does.

In context then, since we do not play on the entire Earth, but only these four areas, how do they stack up? As large as the maps are, some are not large enough. That too is a game play balance issue. But would you not want to see an Italy that was large enough that more than two cities could be built upon it and really be the foundation for a Roman Empire in the Mediterranean? Do you not want North Americaís Eastern Seaboard large enough to support the original 13 colonies perhaps? That is the failing of these four maps. Large enough to have a great Civilization game upon, too small to give one the feel for our worldís history in the Civ sphere.

There are several fan maps for the various releases of Civilization that cover our earth, and these do add to them handily. While Firaxis having control over the implementation of their own maps may have, or should have, created some user interface mechanism so one could choose the actual location and civilization to start as in itís historic locale, and make the other powers in the game historical, including citystates, they did not. Another small change that could have made your recreation of historical civilizations that much more enjoyable.

Playing on the maps then is a worthwhile experience as you have someplace to build up your civilization. There are areas that are large to do so, with mountains, water, plains, seas. All the terrain features that you need to do so successfully (If you luck out and have Seattle as your home base, there are just 2 passes through the Rockies that an enemy will get at you. A great defensible place to build from.) What is missing though is something to say these locales are special and Iíve pointed out how Firaxis could have taken us to the next level.


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