E3 ’10 PREVIEW: Civilization V (PC)

civilizationvOne of the most beloved videogame franchises ever is Civilization, and the dev team at E3 showed off more of what looks to be an exciting chapter in the series, Civilization V.

There are several already well-know facts about the game. For one, it’s gorgeous. The 3D hexagon tile-based map has natural looking plains, coastlines, mountain ranges, deserts, and so on; the near-photorealistic water ripples and waves. Leaders are now large, fully rendered characters who speak in their natural language, and have a lot more “weight” when dealing with them.

Another major change in the game has been the fact units can no longer be stacked. This has a profound on gameplay and combat, of course. Since units can no longer be stacked, positioning of forces becomes of great importance. Terrain can greatly determine the victor of a battle now, even if the defender has fewer forces. Height, cover, and flanking all play a part in combat, as well as attrition through bombardment. Artillery is far weaker in Civ V when it comes to close combat, but since there’s no stacking, their role is pushed further into the support role, pummeling other units from afar, softening them for the ground troops. Cities defend themselves now, and can bombard themselves.

Culture works a little differently this time around. In previous games, the borders expended broadly. Now, borders slowly capture one hex at a time, and it’s based on the countries needs. For example, if the country needs production, it may decide to capture a forest tile, snaking its border a little. Players can also physically decide which tiles to capture, and can even purchase them.

Culture is now a currency as well, and used to purchase social policy. There are ten categories of policies that have to be first unlocked, with such spheres as “Tradition”, “Liberty”, “Honor”, “Piety”, “Patronage”, “Autocracy”, and so on. Each sphere of culture is further broken down into the types of policy under each sphere. This leads to the culture victory condition, when a civilization researches the “Utopia Project” after getting a certain number of social policies.

Another major addition are City States. These are independent one city civilizations that have a little more oomph than the outlaw nations that would appear when a barbarian horde conquered a city in previous games. These cities come in three flavors: maritime, cultured, and militaristic. They also have personalities that influence what sort of gifts they desire from allies. A player who send these gifts will earn favor with that civ, and City States can only favor one civ at a time. While it is possible to conquer a City State, the civ that liberates it will be eternally grateful, which is important, since City States vote in the diplomatic victory as well.

Speaking of capturing cities, there are now three options to employ after conquering an enemy city. You can now install a puppet government in a city rather than annex it or raze it. Now, simply annexing a city can bring down production to your civ as a whole due to unhappiness. Leaving a puppet government means that it’ll funnel its production to your coffers, but you have no ability to tell it how to produce at all. You can still annex it later when the time is right. The domination win condition now simply requires the player conquer every capital in the game, rather than having to capture every city to beat a civ.

The spaceship victory has also been tweaked a bit as well. Now, each spaceship part must physically be transported to the capital, so they’re vulnerable to enemy attack. The demonstration I attended ended with the Atzec capital being nuked in a glorious blast because their final part, the cockpit, was about to be delivered to it, which would have ended the game.

Civilization V is looking more and more exciting, and it will be a happy Fall 2010.

Jonah Falcon is a blogger for TMRzoo and GameStooge.com and covers all gaming consoles and platforms including Sony Playstation 3, Microsoft XBOX 360, Nintendo Wii, Sony PSP and computer games designed for Mac OS, Microsoft Windows and Linux operating systems. Jonah provides his readers with reviews, previews and up to date gaming industry news and rumors.

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