E3 2010: Sid Meier's Civilization V (Impressions)

by: John -
After two and a half years of work, Sid Meier’s Civilization V is about ready to be unleashed on the masses. Fans of the past series and turn based strategy in general should be pretty happy with what’s coming out.

What I first noticed right off the bat was how great the game looked. I mean the map just looks gorgeous when the person demoing the game was panning around showing off the various tile sets they had. The tile sets range from Asia, America, Africa, and a few others but they all looked incredibly detailed for a Civilization game. To show off the land, they lifted the fog of war, which is actually pretty nicely represented by overhead clouds. As you traverse the land discovering new areas, the clouds dissipate in the areas you discover but normally, it just looks like a very cloudy day for the unknown.

Each of the leaders now has very cool detailed animations and voices that speak their native tongue. If you know French, then you’ll understand Napoleon without having to read the sub titles. The animations are just awesome and when you are negotiating with another leader, it’s just really cool to see them in their respective environments and fully animated.

One of the major changes has been the move from a square tile set to a hexagonal tile set. This helps moving enormously and it was one of the things I did a long time ago when playing some D&D. The flexibility in hexagon versus square should make for more efficient movement in the diagonal areas.

Improvements in the UI should also make for an easier game to manage. There’s a cool little notification system on the bottom right where it will queue up events as they happen. Clicking on them will take you right to the place of interest so you’ll spend less time hunting for the place where the action is.

As with any strategy game sequel, AI improvements have been put in to make the game a little but more dynamic. For example, if the computer sees that it’s not going to win by an outright invasion, they might switch up to try a diplomatic route. The goal is to make it a little more human by introducing some adaptation into the fray so let’s hope this does make the game a little bit more challenging and fun when playing against the computer.

Pulling up the tech tree, the demo showed off a very long and impressive looking amount of items to research. One of the cooler things, for those who don’t like to micromanage, is the option to click an item ahead in the tech tree and the game will automatically research the necessary items to get to the one you selected. You can still manage it all yourself, of course, but those that want to focus on other things can set it and forget it.

Mods are going to be fully supported, of course and there’s word that you can import maps and such from Civilization IV into Civilization V. To help you find other mods, there will now be a central repository for all things Civilization V so you can download new mods without having to leave the game interface. This should help out many folks as playing a new Civilization V mod is but a few clicks away rather than hunting the Internet. If you want to create your own mods, Firaxis will be shipping all tools needed and they are all streamlined to be easier to use as well.

The demonstration was capped off by taking down the space shuttle that Montezuma built so they denied him of a technology victory. Seeing Montezuma all distraught talking to you was so funny and I couldn’t help but comment to the Firaxis folks how cool it all looked.

Civilization lovers should be pretty excited if what I saw is any indication. From all the graphical improvements to those that are under the hood, Sid Meier’s Civilization V should be another big hit for Firaxis and I’m sure the cause of many late nights to come as you aim for just one more move.

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