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Main » 2010 » March » 16 » Civilization V
Civilization V

Sid Meiers Civilization V is coming september 1, 2010. Civilization V will feature an entirely new game engine, as well as a hexagonal map instead of the square tiles of earlier games in the series.

The most obvious change is that the playable map is now made up of hexagonal tiles instead of square ones. Hexes, or "a man's way to play a strategy game" as I've described them, allow for some really interesting tactical options and more things to worry about as you've got six sides of your city to defend rather than four. It also allows for more natural movement inside the environments, and as I saw in a private demo of the game live in action, much better looking environments too, with much more naturally sprawling forests and mountain ranges snaking up around other patches of land.

And while the new game engine is promising DirectX 11 support for cutting-edge graphics, they're also working on an unprecedented level of scalability, too: the developers didn't want to commit to saying they're planning on making it playable on the lowliest of Intel GMA-powered netbooks, but maybe most full-size laptops (as well as this latest generation of netbooks with somewhat higher-powered GPUs) could be a really good target. It's silly to talk about a PC game's system requirements this many months before release, so I left it at that, comfortable that they're aware of how many Civ gamers playing on low-specced systems.

They also love some of the community's mods, and while some of them have gotten hundreds of thousands of downloads, that's still a drop in the bucket compared to the total number of Civ players worldwide. So to help facilitate this, they will include an in-game interface for modmakers to put up their latest efforts and for gamers to grab them. And to fully support the community, an in-game web browser will be included so that people can pop to a recent forum thread about a particular mod to discuss issues, new features, or just talk with the author.

But there have been plenty of interface enhancements to go along with the community features and new game engine. They've redone the notification system and now pop up little bubbles that ask for your attention when you get attacked, or a city goes into crisis, or any of the large number of things that can go wrong in any bustling empire. Dealing with the other civs is now much more immersive, too, as you'll meet a larger-than-life George Washington in the Oval Office (and full screen, too, not just in a window) or possibly someone like Napoleon out on the battlefield for the first time. Some new alliance features will be available, one of which shown to us was a research agreement where two civilizations invest money in each other simultaneously to speed up each other's research upgrades. This makes for some interesting strategy, as pulling out of the agreement can be costly, so you won't likely just break an alliance with a civ and declare war on a whim if you've got a research alliance going.

War has changed a lot, too. Not only does the hex system make for a more natural-looking battlefield, but the developers have put an end to the unit "stacking" that has been a basis of Civ brute-force tactics for a long time. Now, each hex can only be occupied by one combat unit at a time, meaning you'll have to really surround a city to take it over. But to make up for it, Firaxis is adding new tactical options like the ability to use ranged-attacking units to fire from a distance. City defense has been reworked as well, with hit point upgrades now being the basis for a city's defense rather than the stationing of troops inside the city. Ideally, you want to defend your city before enemy troops even get there, so you'll see better results when you actively defend your city with real troops stationed near it.

Other changes are coming, too. Religion and Espionage have been scrapped and some elements will be rolled up into a new system of peaceful victories. There will also be independent city-states that have no civ attached to them, and you can ally with them, conquer them, or use them as a reason to start a fight with a real civilization.

Roads are going to have an entirely different role in Civ V, although we really don't know what yet - all the developers were willing to give up was that we won't see the "familiar spiderwebbing" of roads all over the place. And I noticed a little "Strategic View" button hiding down in a corner, so as a huge fan of Supreme Commander and its revolutionary Strategic Zoom feature, I had to inquire. The answer I got was a sly one that pretty much gave up that yes, you'll be able to zoom out to a planet-wide view and see the whole thing at a glance, but it's just not something they're willing to show off just yet. Yeah, it's just one little button, but dammit, consider me excited.

From everything I've seen of Civ V, it looks like Firaxis is taking the series in exciting new directions - that might be scary to some, but the developers have done this before and come out just fine. The interface has been streamlined to put the most common things there - and this is to pull in the console-centric Civilization Revolution players, but it only takes one more click to pull up all of the fine-tune features and actions for cities and combat units, too. They're clearly trying to unify all of the fans under one banner, and from what I got to see, they have a damn good chance of that. Civilization V is set for release on PC late this year.

Category: Game Previews | Views: 1339 | Added by: shaikh | Tags: nation, strategy, civs, Civilization | Rating: 0.0/0
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