Civilization V Review: Civilization Revolution

Civilization V Review: Civilization Revolution
To sign up for our daily newsletter covering the latest news, features and reviews, head HERE. For a running feed of all our stories, follow us on Twitter HERE. Or you can bookmark the Kotaku Australia homepage to visit whenever you need a news fix.

Previous games in the long-running Civilization series have been, ironically, prisoners of the past. Forced to improve the series via baby steps, for fear of upsetting an apple cart 20 years in the making. Civilization V doesn’t do baby steps.

Instead, for the first time in the series’ long history, substantial and fundamental changes have been made to almost every aspect of the game, from its appearance to its core mechanics and everything in between.

It’s as if the development team’s brief went as follows: retain the most treasured core of the game, cut everything else out, and replace it with stuff that works faster and makes more sense.


Let’s Talk About Hex, Baby – The most immediate and welcome of the game’s many changes, the hexagonal game map not only looks more natural, but the flexibility it allows during military manoeuvres turns tedious combat into Civ V’s crowning achievement.

Gloria, Take Notes – There’s been a host of changes made to the game’s user interface, some of which speed things up, others which make sure you’re kept better informed as to the state of your empire.

Minister For Good Times – Government types are gone. Religion is gone. In their place is Civ’s own perks system, Policies, which are a masterstroke. Now customising your empire’s traits is as easy customising the skills of your favourite RPG character.

Let Them Eat Happiness – Lots of Civ’s underlying cogs and gears, from culture to happiness to research, have been streamlined and now are run nationally instead of through individual cities. It sounds like a dumbing-down, but it’s truly liberating.

Why, Hello – The Civilization series has always been a triumph of function over form. The product of engineers rather than artists. Civ V, though, is very easy on the eyes, from its art deco menus to its glorious diplomacy screens.

All Natural – All of the above combine to leave us with a game that looks and feels… natural. More free-flowing. Less like a procession through an arcane series of checkpoints, more like you’re simply riding the wave of history from beginning to end.

Multipass – Civ V’s multiplayer operates on a weird system whereby everyone takes their turn at once. It sounds messy, but in most cases it works quite well, meaning a game that could have been about sitting around becomes bearably fast-paced.


Cannon Fodder – It’ll take you a few hours to get your head around the new map system, and how to move your troops successfully during combat. The AI? It’s been playing for months, and still hasn’t got the hang of it.

It’s a real shame that there’s already a game called Civilization Revolution, because while that console title was a brave attempt at something a little different for the franchise, it’s this game that really, well, revolutionises the series.

With so many changes, tweaks, cuts and additions, it could all have gone so horribly wrong. Make too many changes and you infuriate one of the largest and most devout fanbases in all of gaming. Make too few changes and you risk releasing a game that’s accused of being stale. Frumpy. Old-fashioned.

But it didn’t, and we’re thankfully left with a game that keeps the spirit of Civilization alive with one hand, while with the other, it casts aside 20 years of mechanical dead weight in favour of a faster, cleaner and more enjoyable game.

Civilization V was developed by Firaxis and published by 2K Games. Released on PC on September 21. Retails for $US50/$AU99.95. A copy of the game was given to us by the publishers. Played one epic campaign and one smaller one as the English, and some multiplayer as the Japanese.

Confused by our reviews? Read our review FAQ.


    • I do love this Retails for $US50/$AU99.95, why?

      Given that the old AUD is now 0.95 US/c why is it this price?

      And for those who will say – retail differences. Why are the digital versions so much more expensive?

      • Because if Price was linked to the dollar, then what happens if Aussie Dollar tanks and Game Prices go through the roof.

        Wildgoose had a good story about this awhile back, basically I think the RRP is locked at around 100 to keep prices constant, and not having them at the mercy of the dollar.

        And the fact that Distributors have to buy the games from their European counterparts in their currency like Euro/US Dollars.

        Either way, its better than having Games Prices go up and down like a yo-yo. Either way….you’ll always find someone like JB Hi-Fi selling at well below 99.95

  • Yeah Yo-Yo affecting prices would suck. But since the Dollar is up, we can just go on ebay or some other webstite and but it cheaper if you are willing to wait a good week for 2 for it. – Just checked on ebay, $30.99 + $8.99 AUD for Civ 5 from UK.

Show more comments

Log in to comment on this story!