Games Gazette Logo

Sid Meier's
CIVILIZATION VI

 

The curse of Civilization has struck again!

Way back in the 1990's Microprose put forth the proposition that all games players with a home computer should spend every free hour of every waking day hunched over their keyboards maneuvering a small workforce across barren lands, building roads, monuments, barracks, armies and eventually World Wonders, whilst occasionally fighting off computer intelligent adversaries who have somehow managed to develop their cities and civilizations quicker and more efficiently. As the game progressed, more and more hours of game play passed with sleep deprivation the order of the day and minds previously occupied with reasonable thoughts of other things being filled with thoughts on how to defeat the computer armies, build up your own troops and shore hugging trireme's, all the while keeping the populace happy with homes, businesses and various other necessary erections and constructions. Many the time was when my wife would come down the stairs on a Sunday morning to find me still plugging away on my Atari having spent no time in bed that night at all. She couldn't understand how I could spend so much time on the computer playing "silly games", though this was before she discovered "Candy Crush"......    As newer versions of 'Sid's Civ' arrived on the scene I managed to keep away, not because I needed my sleep but because I had discovered MMO's and once again my free time was spent hunched over a keyboard, though this time with a mouse for company.


  

When the news began to arrive about CIVILIZATION VI being en route from 2K​ / Firaxis my interest was again piqued as the announcements about the characters being introduced dripped through piecemeal until the majority of the most significant people from history were added to the ever-growing list. When the game became available I thought I may as well "give it a go" .. huh !  I gave it a go alright. This new version has all the appeal and delight of the first edition but with more spectacular artwork, wonderful 3D renders, more involved scenarios and a better chance for the human player(s) to defeat the computer intelligence, though it is still by no means an easy push over.

There is something special about Civilization VI right from the beginning of the game, before it has even began for the player. The designers have taken note of how other large and popular games, such as the Assassin's Creed series, have whetted the player's appetite well before the first key is pressed or mouse button pushed, and filmed an amazing pre-game cinematic showing worthy of a movie award in its own right. You may not wish to watch this every time you play but even if you are desperate to get to the game I would implore you to watch it through at least once, you won't regret it.

  

After the mini movie you have numerous options available to you. Single or multi player being one of them with size of map, number of adversaries, etc etc being others. One of the more significant, which you should, in my opinion, not affect until you are up to speed with the gameplay, are the "Mods" which add unique challenges to the play. These mods are mainly multi-player and include a 50 Turn Global Thermo Nuclear War scenario, a 50 Turn Ancient Rivalry, and Hallowed Ground which takes you right up to the Industrial era. In all fairness I have not tried any of these yet as I am still enthralled with the game where I am Cleopatra, what a lovely asp I have!

There is a Benchmark test you can run, prior to the starting of the game, to let you know how your PC system stands up to the necessary and expected. My new PC hit 99% but there was no indication of what the other 1% is.

  

I did play through the tutorial though, where you get to play either Cleopatra or Gilgamesh (a great Sumerian King of Mesopotamia) where I naturally played Cleopatra (Gilgamesh is an ugly old brute and although I'm no oil painting I'm sure I err on the side of Cleo). Even if you have played one, more or all of the Civilization games I strongly suggest that you play through the tutorial. It gives you enough hints and tips without spoilers so that you can play and enjoy and only get frustrated with yourself when you make a mistake rather than with you misunderstanding the game.

If you've never played a Sid Meier's Civilization game, then as long as you like man and resource management games you are in for a treat. You begin in Ancient times with a small city in an area of land and from there you spread out to conquer the world, mind you at this time you have no idea how the world is shaped or who else inhabits it. As you spread your realm by sending out solo Scouts and sometimes also troops, note there is also a mechanism that allows you to link different units so that they travel together, you will encounter different terrain types, discover coastlines, and even come across other civilizations. Generally you will only be attacked by units not aligned to you if they are barbarians, other nationalities will take note that you are around but unless you get very close to another city they will not act on your incursion into their territories. You can mount attacks on other nationalities units in or out of a city but the moment you attempt it you are given a warning that war will incur if you proceed. If you back off nothing will happen but if you continue with your attack then you have made an enemy who will be relentless in their pursuit of your populace and until you go to them with an Olive Branch in hand and accept their terms for your surrender you will find expansion very difficult.

Of course if you build up a strong force surrounding an opposing city and then lay siege to it the shoe may then be on the other foot and they will ask for a truce and you will gain the spoils; or of course you could simply continue and take the city then either razing it for a small profit or holding it in your own name because from there you can use your resources. What you can build depends not only on what resources you have but also on where the city is situated; you cannot build ships in a city that is landlocked for example. War is inevitable at some stage of the game so pick and choose your friends carefully and your enemies even more carefully. Sending Envoys to civilizations as soon as possible after you find them is usually a good idea, though the Envoy sending mechanic itself is a little cumbersome and doesn't always seem to be as you would expect. For example I often get a message that tells me to send an Envoy to a Nation and when I try the options are start War or demand a treaty, neither of which can be chosen and then the button at the bottom to actually confirm sending the Envoy doesn't depress so nothing happens. This is obviously something I am misunderstanding and so am only mentioning it incase anyone else gets the same problem or can contact me with a remedy to my error please.

As with history itself as you progress through time your options for building and recruiting, designing, researching and creating all change, forever going forward. Unkempt militia give way to spearmen and then pikemen, ragged archers gain better skills, volleys fire, and onto muskets and beyond, horses and carts evolve into motorised vehicles, battering rams to tanks etc etc etc; this is a History of the World but it is a History that you are making. There is no luck involved just planning, careful and thoughtful planning. Take your time and think your moves and builds through thoroughly and you will be rewarded. Remember the old adage that Rome wasn't built in a day and you will be on the right road to success.

 

CIVILIZATION VI is played in turns. You do all you want to or at least all you can, being directed to units that require orders by a circular icon in the bottom right corner. This icon also changes to an arrow and an End Turn notice when there is nothing more you can do. When you click this the other players, human or computer, will take their turns. You are not under any time limit so if dinner, the restroom or even work calls you away from the computer you can rest assured the game isn't going to be lost while you are away, though to be safe you can always save the game. If you think you have made too many errors or you want to retry some idea you have had or something new you had previously not thought of then you can always start the game again. Once you have tried a few times you will know what you are doing and although it may seem a bother at first, having to restart from scratch, you will quickly get back to where you want to be but in a better position and of course more knowledgeable.

The main, in fact only, problem I have with Sid VI is that no matter how I try I cannot get the [Print Screen] button to take screenshots of my nation and so I have relied on pictures found via Google Images to show how good the game graphics are.As I said at the beginning, the curse of Civilization has returned but I have responsibilities to play and review many other games and thus I am fighting my inner gaming self to put continuing with CIVILIZATION VI on the back burner until I have given the other games a fair and honest supply of my time, but as the great Arnie once said (several times) "I'll be back!" In the meantime I cannot speak highly enough of how well Civilization has evolved over the past 25 years and how superb a resource management game it is. 

I did take a couple of snaps off the monitor screen with my camera, not too brilliant but at a pinch ....

  My starting area

 My workers out in force

 Finding a city (as in starting one not tripping over it in error)

 An important message

 

 

 

© Chris Baylis 2011-2015