Today we have a guest poster in the guise of Pikey (AKA Alistair White), who recently wrote us a review of Worms Armageddon. This time he'll be telling us all about the new Civ game....take it away Mr Pikey!
So, Mr. Meier has made a new installment of his franchise I see.
I've never played any previous Civilization games, but since I started playing with Empire/Napoleon Total War, I've developed a greater interest in these turn based strategy games (Which I used to think were incredibly boring, last good one I remember playing was Sudden Strike II). I bought it off Amazon for about £25 I think it was, £5 cheaper than Steam (Even though it's a bloody Steam based game... ridiculous...) - Promptly got it installed and had a play with it.
First thing I can tell you is the tutorials are fairly weak and pointless. They show you brief outlines but aren't that much use towards the player, a couple are particularly time consuming, and there still seems to be missing tutorials about some key factors of the game you later encounter So, sod them, let's get the game loaded!
You get to pick one of, er, several nations (I would get a specific number if the manual were more than 1 Page long) and set about the conditions you'd like to play in. These consist of map types, number of opponents, winning conditions, length of game, etc. Now, I saw the length of game and thought "Yeh, I'll just stick it on Quick mode, have a fast round, nothing too indepth" - Well, I've got to say, 10 hours later on the same map, I believe I've been duped with the term "Quick"; if Quick Mode was that "quick", I'd hate to think how long the other 4 Game Speeds are (Going up to Marathon, I bet you could feel yourself physically age playing that) - 10 Hours! I began my journey in Southern Africa, and I've only conquered Africa and Asia so far!
So, from that you can guess the game's pretty slow, and if not, I'll tell you, it's pretty slow. Working through the ages is pretty good, it starts from er, 3000 BC? I'm not sure, the lack of manual bites me in the arse yet again. And I don't believe there's a finishing date, the game just goes on until a Victory Condition has been met (With a good tongue-in-cheek quote from Bush I might add ) But even with the game being very slow, it's still a damn good play, you do really get immersed within it. The more ancient ages are for obvious reasons, less vibrant with what you can do (Militarily most of course) But they seem to have hit the nail on the head with letting you play the ancient eras, getting the enjoyment, but allowing you to quickly progress out of it, and spend more time in the more "interesting" periods. I personally think the game really starts to take off around the late Renaissance/early Industrial time period, powering your way into the Modern era is fantastic.
Once you get into later stages of the game, turns don't mean so much as they did before. Early on, you could buzz through 50 turns in an hour or so as you don't have that much to control, but now each turn takes you a good 10 or 15 minutes to play through. Now, that sounds mind-numbing, but it's a strategy game, you need to bide your time, move your units in appropriate and tactically beneficial manners. Gain the higher ground, don't fight over rivers, or in areas where your units are at a disadvantage; you amateur! The balancing is very good I believe, no one will suffer from vastly out-of-date units, everyone progresses at a similar rate (Technology wise) and even those players who'd put all their efforts into Technological progression, they won't be much further ahead, and will be held back by other mitigating factors, such as lack of population, money, or happiness.
I've fully played through it now, so I've dabbled in the Superweapons. Nuclear bombs are hellishly good fun (But here I must promise you, I'm not a person hell bent on global destruction... But in games! Bring on the apocalypse!) but I did kind of shoot myself in the foot with it later on Being a British citizen, I ain't takin' no shit from Napoleon! Cross me France, and feel the wrath of 4 Nuclear bombs across your lands, swiftly followed by the armoured fury of my "Modern Tanks" (Ingenious name that is!) - I now control your lands! ...which are now completely barren and useless because of the fallout caused by my previous over-zealousness. Someone give me a gold star!
I think the game's fantastically made. It's the kind of game where you glance at your watch, and you're sitting there wondering where the last 2 hours have gone, or whether there's something in the water! But as with all games, it has teething problems, many of which are rudimentary errors on the part of the developer. Multiplayer, for some reason, loses all the animations of 2 units fighting (Which although sounds like a meager point, really takes something out of the game) as well as Multiplayer being particularly sluggish between turns; I think it's because when it transfers the data to the other player, from your move, it sends it in one huge laggy-assed bundle of fun at once, rather than slowly feeding it. And as the game's got such a long playtime, Multiplayer against another random person is kind of out of the option, unless you both want to sit there and cooperate for the next 16 hours or so. Besides that, little graphical niggles here and there, and the AI sometimes being a bit dense, it's pretty good. Fix multiplayer, and it's good to go!
Just an afterthought:
This does win the "Award for the Most B*****ks [I'm sure you meant Bonkers -ed] Manual Conceived by Man" though
Well thank you for that, and just for people who need to see what games actually look like (as if our wonderful explanations were not enough!) Here's some audio-visual entertainment to gawp at: