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Sid Meier’s Civilization V Preview

By on March 12th, 2010 7:00 pm

The Civilization series is probably one of the best that PC Gaming has ever known. Ask any strategy gamer about it and the odds are that he has played at least one of the Civilization titles during his gaming life time, or at least a Sid Meier’s title (Railroad Tycoon, Alpha Centauri, Colonization, Pirates and many more). And really it is no big surprise because Civilization is really what strategy gaming is all about. Since the game starts till it finishes it is all about making decisions, some minor, others of tremendous importance, these last will dictate if your civilization will thrive or be left dead forever forgotten in the ages.

And why am I writing a Civilization preview in you may ask. Well for starters these are my favorite games ever as for many strategy gamers also. The game is not Sci-Fi but it does contain a late chapter where Sci-Fi elements do take place. You see, one of the possible victory conditions of Civilization is to build the “Spaceship” that will takes us from this planet and sends us to the stars, more specifically to settle a new home in the Alpha Centauri system (Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri is the continuation of the Civilization series for this reason).

Another reason why I’m writing about it is because the game type is strategy and because it is 4x (well in fact one of the fathers of the 4x genre).

When I read the Firaxis announcement that they were developing Civilization 5 my heart started to beat faster and my emotions started to rise just to think how wonderful it will be to explore the Civilization world once again.

Evolution of the Civilization series in four pictures

Its remarkable how a game that in concept remained the same over and over, title after title is able to maintain a legion of fanatic fans after all this time. But what do you do of so extraordinary in Civilization games that people just love so much?

At game start you pick a nation and begin your humble beginnings with a single city. Then you start to explore the vicinity. The next step is to settle new cities and claim resources found nearby. You construct buildings and train armies. You conduct research and negotiate deals with your neighbours. And after dozens and dozens of decisions and many more actions you dazzle of how big your empire has grown and how the simple beginning has turned out to be a strong and vigorous empire ready to rival with all the other empires in the map.

This process makes people feel powerful and important and ultimately if you win you can’t help to feel a sense of validation for being able to have taken so many good decisions during the journey. Playing Civilization is pure problem solving, pure strategy and pure fun and that is why so many people like it so much.

These next 4 pictures illustrate the Civilization series evolution (click on them to enlarge). Note that although the graphics have been always improving the game remained basically the same. You have your map, cities, resources and armies and a user interface to help you administer your empire.

Civilization I civ2_small civ3_small civ4_small

But now its time to talk about Civilization 5. First an introduction.

The Official Trailer

Or click here if you cannot see the trailer above.

So but what’s new in Civilization 5?

Judging from the official Civ 5 website the new Civ installment will provide better graphics, bigger battles, improved diplomacy and improved modability features, among other features.

Better Graphics

One of the things were Civilization has always become better and better is on its presentation. Civilization 5 will continue this legacy providing us with better looking graphics and a promised even better user interface.

Civilization 5: The best graphics the civ world as ever seen

Civilization 5: The best graphics the civ world as ever seen (image from

In the picture above we can see the most detailed terrain Civilization has ever offered with diverse vegetation, different water colors for rivers and seas. It looks promising.

No more squares, the map is now in hexagons

The units now move around the map through hex tiles instead of squares.

Civilization 5: Hexagon tiles instead of squares

Civilization 5: Hexagon tiles instead of squares (image from

This is a nice improvement since the map will look better and cleaner, since now its easier to spot what is effectively connected and what is not. Besides that there are now 6 movement options instead of previous 8 (4 nominal directions + 4 diagonals).

Modified combat system and bigger battles

This is probably one of the aspects of Civilization that now will be much different. In the past the player attacked in stacks of troops, one at a turn. Remember the famous SoDs (Stacks of Doom?) where you massed up a gigantic army in a single square. This is no more.

Civilization 5: Troops laid in the battlefield

Civilization 5: Troops laid in the battlefield (image from

In Civ5 there cannot be two units in the same terrain spot so now tactical combat gains a new  level since you have to spread your units across the map or battlefield with care. Melee and Cavalry units should be put upfront in the battle while archers and catapults are probably better placed behind the lines.

Other important features

Among others these are the improvements and features added (and removed) by the 5th installment of Civilization that I could gather (from :

  • City states added (sort of like NPCs these are neutral factions that follow their independent agenda)
  • Civ5 will be more moddable than before
  • Religion and Espionage were removed (at least as we know it)
  • Technology trade removed
  • Distant troops like archers can attack from distance
  • Units are no longer destroyed when they loose a battle, more emphasis is put in maintaining them than on creating new ones

Release Date

Civilization 5 is scheduled for release in Fall 2010. I don’t know about you but I know of  at least one game I’ll be playing by the end of this year. If it comes out this year I mean :) I wonder if Leonard Nimoy is returning for this one..

For more information check the official Civilization 5 site, the Firaxis website, 2K Games or the Civ Fanatics website, the place where Civ fanatics (like me) hang out to discuss about Civ.

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Post category: Game First Impressions, Game Previews, News & Announcements