Video Game Review: Civilization VI

civilization_vi_cover_artYes, I am a declared Firaxis fanboy with Sid Meier’s autograph hanging on my game room wall, but you have to believe me when I tell you that Civilization VI is by far the best game at launch that they have ever released and well worth your time if you want to take the proverbial one more turn. There are a lot of reviews already out there from professional reviewers, bloggers, and game sites that got advanced copies and they have been playing for over a month! The reviews are all resoundingly positive, 94% on Metacritic. I’m hardly a dissenting vote, but I would put it more in the 80 – 85 range with potential to be a masterpiece!

I’ve had only ~30 hours since launch to absorb what CivVI has to offer and I am extremely impressed with how refined the game’s mechanics are at launch. Civ had a reputation of launching the vanilla game and then adding mechanics like espionage and religion on future DLC releases. Not so with CivVI! Not only are all the familiar mechanics present, they are amazingly well developed and balanced for the new game. Though it has a familiar feel, the game is very different from previous releases and it took some time getting used to, even for a seasoned player like myself; however, now that I’ve got the hang of it, I don’t think I will be able to go back to any previous version.

For the first day, I logged 12 hours sitting side-by-side in the game room with my friend David as we each played CivVI on separate computers. At first, we thought we might multiplay, but instead I went with a standard game and David did a smaller, fast paced game. He got two games in quicker than I finished my first game and that’s how I would recommend anyone just starting CivVI. There are so many complexities in this game that it is easy to make mistakes just starting off. For instance, I love the new district system, but if you place your districts incorrectly, you’re stuck with it. And districts really matter! So, David was able to learn from his first game and apply the lessons learned to his second short game almost right away. The other advantage to playing alongside David was that as we each discovered new and interesting events, systems, features, and mechanics, we were able to learn from each other. It is complex, but it is the complexity which makes it such an amazing game with potentially infinite replayability. CivVI feels so complete, I almost wonder what Firaxis plans to add to the base game!

It’s not without issues of course. As with all 4X games, the AI has a few issues which detract from the enjoyment of the game. I believe the issues will be fixed in patches, but the AI issues are most prevalent in diplomacy and war. I would like to say that the leaders follow their stated goals, agendas, and current government types, but it seems like most will declare war on you at one point or another. It’s not necessarily something related specifically to some leaders because Gandhi does it too! War is a part of history, but some of these declarations of war seem ridiculous and the AI is unable to follow through with their aggression. The part I don’t like is how brutal the warmonger system is. When an AI declares war (happens a lot), they will send a peace treaty as soon as you approach their cities with a sizable enough force. If you accept their peace offer, they will be right back to attack you 30 turns later. If you don’t accept the peace terms, they and every other civilization will think you are a warmonger and soon the entire world is against you. The constant wars got annoying, so I ended up finishing off every civ that declared war on me so they would just leave me alone to do my city building.

My favorite new addition is definitely the districts! In older Civ games, there wasn’t much difference between your cities. Most cities could build almost every building, so each city looked about the same by end game, but varying in size depending on the terrain you settled on. Not so now. Each city is unique and you have to specialize nearly every city according to their strengths and what you need at that moment! As with real life, the key to successful city building is location, location, location! Planning the cities is awesome!

My least favorite addition is the proselytizing zerg swarm the AI does. My first game, I was too busy kicking Russia back to the Stone Age (see previous AI comment) to realize England slipped in with 20 or so missionaries and converted all my cities, including my Holy City. So, getting a religious victory absolutely seems to be a viable strategy – it’s just annoying when it happens to you!

Sean Bean isn’t as good as Leonard Nimoy was in Civilization IV, but he does give it some extra pizzazz.

I’m enjoying CivVI immensely, but really hope that the AI is fixed up a bit to make the diplomacy and war AI a little more balanced and less annoying. I think CivVI has potential to be the best of the series and I look forward to seeing what else Firaxis has in store for its flagship title.




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