Expansion of empires is now kept in check with by the Happiness resource. Happiness, now a global value, decreases each time a new city is founded or a city gains population, with additional cities having a greater penalty than population. Access to Luxury Resources and certain buildings will mitigate these happiness penalties somewhat, but controlling each city on the map is now quite a difficult endeavor. In addition, each new city also imparts a penalty on Culture and Great Person generation, meaning a player vying for those victories is often better off keeping things small and efficient.
Civilization V looks, sounds, and plays wonderfully. Everything is slick, polished, and very user-friendly. The map is very impressive, while each unit is easily identifiable. The user interface allows players to quickly locate any information, unit, or city easily and without fuss. I even liked the new Leader animations, with each speaking in their native tongues (with subtitles, of course). Being a veteran of the series, I was able to quickly jump in and get going, even with all the changes made this time around. Plentiful tooltips and a detailed Civlopedia allowed me to wrap my mind around most of the concepts within my first hour of play.
As for the difficulty levels and the abilities of the AI, they all seemed to hold their own. Admittedly, I have only been spending my time in the lower settings, so I have not yet braved the more punishing levels. And while multiplayer is available for those with the time and inkling to brave a human opponent in the next state, as of now I found no hotseat option to battle an opponent in the next chair.
Civilization V is, once again, going to consume countless hours of my life in turn-based bliss. With the "boardgame" feel and the slick, polished features, I know I'm in for many sleep-deprived mornings. Fans of the series, or turn-based 4X games in general, will have a blast with this for a long time to come. And while it might be a little daunting to newcomers, Civilization V is also a great place for those who might want to wet their feet in the 4X pool.
* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company for review.
Maintaining the beloved "Civilization" feel while adding some delicious "boardgame" goodness, Civilization V is a solid addition to any strategy library.
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