I‘ve been playing Civilization 5 (wikipedia link) now for a while and I’m still mixed about it. If you played and loved Civ4 (Earlier here): it’s nothing like it. The game designers drastically changed several game features: First of all, everything plays now on a “hex” map. Secondly, stacking up units is not allowed any more. Most importantly, politics has changed. This is actually the part that bothers me the most. Since Civ 1, choosing your nation’s political affiliation resembled known types of political structures we’ve seen in recent history. You wanted to focus on trade, surely you could choose to lead your nation as a Republic or Dictatorship. Civ 5’s political system feels extremely dumbed down.
So, that being said: the game’s graphics, music and general presentation are top-notch as always. To get the most out of the game, you would probably need to get a PC that has more than 2 cores and an extremely capable graphics processor. Anything lower than a third generation i5 or i7, will most likely feel a ‘grind out game’. Turns generally seem to take longer (compared to Civ4). At the launch of this game, Firaxis claimed that their Civ 5 engine was their most scalable game engine, able to use multiple cores: If you have the time for it, witness Meier’s presentation. Upon release, however, the game was buggy as hell. Only 4 or 5 months after release, Civ 5 sort of became playable. Add to the fact that the DLC “Gods and Kings” finally added Religion and Spying mechanisms, you can say that Civ 5 is sort of turning into a classic: Mind you, a reluctant classic if you compare it with Civ 4.
Civ 5, however, does battle pretty well. Battles now feel sort of ‘real': You’ll need to plan the location of your cities so you can take advantage of the terrain and force possible bottlenecks upon your enemies. To conquer cities, you’ll find you have to push your cities to max to generate a steady stream of cannon fodder. Additionaly, cities now have basic defence mechanisms.
Would I recommend it? Reluctantly, but only if you get the “Gods and Kings” DLC: Besides adding religion and spying, it changes several core game play mechanisms. It seems to be a lot more playable in higher levels as well. My frustration score is obviously higher: I’d rate a solid 6. God, the game so obviously needs more peddles. But besides the frustration, winning the game is absolutely rewarding. With the release of Steam Workshop, people can now even create their own mods for Civ 5. “A+ would plai agian”, as they’d say on the Internet.