Thursday, September 23, 2010

Just one more turn

As I said in my last post I have just recently acquired Civilization V.  For anyone who has played the previous versions of the game the phrase 'just one more turn' is probably something inscribed indelibly on your soul; that desperate need to just see what will happen one more step ahead is incredible.  Today I had a big breakfast, got a few small chores done and decided to play a little more on my Civ game from last night.  I figured I would go out and have a walk in the afternoon to avoid playing Civ too much, for I knew that just sitting around my place not playing it would be a challenge at best, impossible at worst.  I glanced at the clock after a few turns and figured it must be around 11, so I should probably consider what my plan was for lunch.  Of course it was 1:45 instead, but since my breakfast was large I figured lunch could still wait 1 more turn.  I checked the clock again just a few turns later and saw 4:30, which leaves me 15 minutes to figure out dinner, go shopping for the necessary ingredients and leave to get Elli from school.  That is a tight schedule so I finally shut down Civ and went to the kitchen to sort out dinner.  I discovered that I could make a good dinner with what I had and no shopping was necessary, and the first thing that went through my brain was

"well, I have 8 minutes now before I have to leave, I could go play one more turn of Civ!"

This is the point of madness, of no return.  Years ago I don't know that I could have resisted that siren's call and I would have been back at the computer trying to somehow play just 1 turn before going out and almost certainly failing.  This time though I was able to talk myself down from the ledge and accept that booting up the game to try to squeeze in just one more turn in the next 8 minutes was utterly insane and I should eat some damn food quickly before leaving.

The game is *really* good.  I don't know that it is particularly more addictive than the older games since I remember losing 8 hour stretches of my life back in highschool to Civ 1, but so much of Civ V is just so polished and correct where the older versions were not.  There are some marvelous new mechanics too, in particular the idea of city states.  Instead of just an empty world with 6 or so competing civilizations there are a large number of single cities that never attempt to expand but do play a big part in politics.  They ally with various groups, share military units, help improve your civilization or break it down and cause a ton of chaos.  Each one is relatively weak individually but as a group they cannot be ignored and that innovation leads to amazing new interactions.  They even give you quests to complete to get extra favour from them which is certainly unexpected and entirely awesome.

Civ V is very pretty and has lots of the cutscenes and all the jazzing up we have come to expect from a modern game but even if the graphics were exactly as good as Civ 1 from 20 years ago I am sure I would love it.  There are many game sequels released and usually they are just a retread of the original, often with better graphics and worse gameplay.  This is not the case here, as by any measure I can devise this Civ is the best yet, and that is a tall order indeed.

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