I’m not dead, I’ve been playing Civ … again

Ancient Era

Dad used to play Civilization on the Amiga and I would glimpse the pixellated tiles that represent cities, armies and land as I sauntered past his study late at night to go to the toilet or to pour myself a drink. Little did I know (I was eight at the time) that I would spend many nights and mornings and days playing the most addictive and original turn-based simulation of history ever created.

Sid Meiers, you owe me sleep

The franchise has unleashed its fifth iteration of the game and wow! Surprisingly, the system requirements are super-duper high. Fans who haven’t upgraded their computers since Civ IV (or Civ II!) may want take heed:  to play with settings maxed out you’ll want a rig with a quad core CPU, piles of RAM and a GPU with enough TNA so that you don’t LOL at the FPS.

Immaculate textures and smooth animations justify the steep requirements. I’m glad the GFX (ok, no more acronyms now I promise) are amazing because the visual enhancements are obvious—like the water for example—and differentiate the game from its immediate predecessor.

The GUI (ok, lucky last acronym) is overhauled for the better too. You can wave your cursor across icons along the top of the screen and the game will show you what you’re hovering over. Clicking between the research tree, your civic policies and choosing production for your cities is less tedious and less confusing now because there are big flashing bars on the screen that assists you with your in-game priorities.

These additions are wonderful because as your empire expands, at least in previous games, it can be easy to forget about units as well as entire clusters of struggling cities. Also, alert icons (warnings regarding enemies near your borders for example) appear along the right of the screen and if you click them the game will move to where the action is. No more getting lost. Civ is less daunting to immerse yourself in.

Modern Era

Unlike the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. series, Civ has been streamlined and tweaked resulting in awesomeness overall. Religion has been cut in Civ V but you can customise your civic policies according to your strategy. Worker improvements now cost maintenance so you can’t just build road networks everywhere (I learnt the hard way and wondered why I was in debt).

Waging war and conquering cities is considerably more difficult to master too. First of all there’s the issue of hexes instead of square tiles and not being allowed to stack more than one military unit on another. Yep, no more stacks of doom. After a few games I actually thought this was a great innovation to the rules. I had my ground troops massed along the frontier of my border with archer units behind them and then I moved the army in formation. Archers (missile units) can now shoot rather than fight it out like warriors. Very cool.

Unhappiness (war weariness) can grind your production and make taking enemy cities very frustrating. This does encourage you to consider your playing style more wisely.

Just one more turn

So far I haven’t been able to survive past the Renaissance Era. Game #1, as Hellbrozius of the Romans, I ethnically cleansed the Egyptians and then Napoleon decided to capture my cities with musket men. My poor archers didn’t stand a chance.

Game #2 was equally profitable. Ok, Lukeyzuma of the Aztecs was worse off this time. We’re still in the Ancient Era and the map type is archipelago. Tiny islands, awesome. As if anyone will settle near me … who the hell is that? I’ve built two cities and the English are settling on the same island. Yaargh! I haven’t rage quitted yet but we have had wars that have been on and off. I take a city of theirs, we agree to a peace treaty. After the 10 turns Elizabeth gets violent and takes my coastal city. Meanwhile the rest of the world is developing and expanding and doing well. I’m close to starting a new game …

They’re not paying me to say this

The Civilization franchise is simply amazing. There is so much to do and so much to achieve—these games are worth your money.

You can have a cow if I can have a pig

So far I haven’t ventured online in Civ V. Gimme some more time to experiment and stuff (we will play our game eventually, Kyle).

However, the Civ legacy is so strong that there are those who still play the earlier iterations of the game via LAN (that’s really the last three-letter acronym; I swear on my Civ IV manual).

I recently re-installed Civ IV on several computers at home after my sis was raving mad about Civ Revolutions on the DS. Last night Dad, Elizabeth and I spent several hours playing Civ IV and it was magical.

Our first game was a cooperative effort against two poor AI opponents who didn’t stand a chance against our waves of samurai and horse archers. Meanwhile, Lizzy’s Indian population won the game in terms of points due to her culture exploits. Her pitiful reinforcements were too late to join the razing party though. Boo.

Dad and I started a second game in the evening and by 2am I owned my own continent and sent aid to help clear Dad’s continent of the final AI player. We’ve saved the game to finish it at a later date. There can be only one!

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