Civilization V also introduces "city-states" into the mix of computer-controlled players. These factions are smaller than a full-blown competing Civ, and they cannot achieve any of the victory conditions. Players have several options with regards to these city-states, from diplomacy to conquest. Gifting money or unit to a city-state will increase their relationship, to the point where they may begin offering resources or other units as rewards. Players may also choose to be protectors of a given city-state, sheltering these smaller factions from the other civilizations. Of course, more straightforward-minded players can simply conquer as they see fit, taking whatever resources by force.
Once again there is a limiting factor placed on those civilizations that simply want to spread across the map like locusts, and this time around that factor is Happiness. In CivV, Happiness is now a civilziation-wide score. Happiness decreases both with an increase in population and to a greater degree with additional cities. Combating this are the aforementioned luxury resources and certain buildings. An unhappy civilization is a poorly-working civilization, and there are huge penalties to production and growth for running negative Happiness. On the other hand, running a surplus of Happiness is a very, very good thing. Once the well-being of the civilization is met, each additional Happiness point per turn is added to a Golden Age score, triggering those wonderful, everything-boosting events. Golden Ages are no longer a one-time event, so players are wise to ramp Happiness as far as possible.
There is a great deal more that has changed, from Wonders to Technologies to Great People, but as an early build the details may morph in the next few weeks leading up to the release. I will lastly touch on the newest victory conditions, as I imagine these won't get too many tweaks. Returning in CivV is the always-rewarding Technology victory, capped off by launching that ship to Alpha Centauri. Conquest is a little different this time around--victory will be assured only if players will hold their starting capitol while having conquered each enemy starting capitol on the map. A diplomatic victory, complete with UN votes, also makes a return, but perhaps the most intriguing new victory condition is the newly-revamped Cultural end. Culture, in addition to spreading city influence, can now be spent on Social Policies, which are basically a series of cultural tech-trees. These policies give several bonuses to the corresponding civilization, and once five of these policies have been thoroughly researched, players may begin the "Utopia Project" to finalize their cultural endgame. This is a far more satisfying cultural goal than has been used previous titles.
This brief tour has certainly whetted my appetite for the full release in a few months. With all the changes, the slick interface, and the appealing new look, I have no doubts that I will be experiencing many exhausted mornings in the near future. I'm already clearing my gaming calendar.
* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company for review.
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