Civilization V: Updated Impressions

Two months have passed since I posted my initial thoughts about Civilization V. Site readers may recall that I mentioned the game’s polished interface, new city-state mechanics, and graphical improvements. Now that I have half a dozen games under my belt, I wanted to include some additional impressions that weren’t apparently the first time around.

Rival Civilizations Are All Opportunistic Jerks
Even if you’ve spent the last 200 turns defending a rival civilization, its leader will destroy your cities as soon as he or she sees an opening. There’s no such thing as an alliance anymore. You must build a large army to intimidate your enemies. It’s the only way to keep yourself from a quick game over.

The computer AI is designed to win by any means necessary and mimic the unpredictable nature of a human player because the developers wanted the single player experience to feel like multiplayer. This is very different from Civ IV, which had a point system for how happy or angry a rival civilization leader was with your actions. If you’re not used to playing against backstabbing human players, the single-player experience in Civ V will be difficult to adjust to. Thankfully, you can still form a ‘pact of cooperation’ with an opposing civilization. At least when he or she breaks the pact, you’ll know something’s afoot.

(The new patch is supposed to fix some of these problems by reintroducing Civ IV‘s numbers based diplomacy system.)

Leaders Are Colossal Dicks
If you don’t do anything for a while, your fellow leaders will contact you solely to make fun of your civilization. Even though they repeatedly start wars with you and refuse to accept peace, they’ll accuse you of being a war-monger. You know, just like real world leaders.

City-States Are Money Hungry
Just as rival civilization leaders are opportunistic and untrustworthy, the city-states are a little too predictable. By simply giving a city-state gold, you’ll be able to secure its army to fight in your favor. They’ll never betray you (unless you stop paying). In every game I’ve played, I’ve ended up with 4-5 city-states defending me from the main civilizations.

War Is The Only Answer
According to this game, the only solution to a dispute is to invade a country. At least that’s how the computer AI sees things.

George Washington’s Accent
I didn’t notice this initially, but George Washington’s voice actor has a Texan drawl like George W. Bush. It certainly doesn’t sound like the 18th century New England accent usually attributed to Washington in documentaries.

Ottoman Empire Sucks
Of all the civilizations, the Ottoman Empire has the worst bonus. Converting a barbarian naval unit to your side gives a slight boost to naval exploration. However, barbarian naval assaults are virtually non-existent. Also, you’re screwed if you play on an ocean-less map.

Endless Peace Treaty Bug
There’s a particularly annoying bug that ruins the game entirely. If you go to war with a civilization and then end it with a peace treaty, there’s a % chance that the treaty will last forever. The only way to end the treaty is to literally drop a nuke on that civilization’s city.

I’ve played six games and encountered the bug four times. It’s well documented. Just do a Google search for ‘civilization v peace treaty’ and you’ll see dozens of angry threads. Until Firaxis and 2K releases a patch for this bug, the single player game is pretty much unplayable.

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