Game review: Civilization V: Brave New World

Game review: Civilization V: Brave New World

This second and final expansion to the award-winning strategy game adds more complexity and features to the game for fans longing for more ways to take over the world.

Players like me who favour the Genghis Khan-style of military conquest will be disappointed as there is very little new here, save for a handful of new combat units.

The only unit that got me excited was the XCom Squad of futuristic soldiers wielding plasma rifles.

They are weaker than the Giant Death Robot but they do not require the rare uranium resource to build and can be paratrooped 40 squares away for superfast deployment.

Of the nine new civilisation leaders, only the American Indian chief Pocatello of the Shoshone tribe is designed for the battle-inclined.

He gets combat bonuses when fighting within his territory and has Pathfinders as his starting unit, which has the movement benefits of the scout and attack strength of the warrior.

The truth is that this expansion is designed for those who prefer the more subtle forms of power mongering through trade, culture and diplomacy.

In Civilization V, you achieve victory through Domination (my favourite), Science, Culture and Diplomacy. Culture Wars has been totally revamped.

Before, to win, you had to be the first to unlock five complete sets of culture "skill trees" and then complete the Utopia Project.

Now, you need to be more culturally advanced than your surviving rivals to win.

When you hear your opponents saying they are in awe of your style of blue jeans and pop culture, you know you are on the path to victory.

Being more advanced is no easy task. You must develop a new resource called Tourism points.

You score points by attracting Great Artists, Writers and Musicians to your nation and having them create Great Works. So, for instance, you could get Vincent van Gogh to paint his Starry Night masterpiece or to get Victor Hugo to write Les Miserables.

Each Great Work gains you two Tourism points. But there are many ways to earn bonuses, including acquiring two Great Art pieces from the same era, as well as building hotels in your cities.

You can earn Culture points as before, but these are now defensive in nature. A player achieves Cultural Victory when the Tourism points he has aggregated top the individual Culture points of his rivals.

Creating trade routes through caravans and cargo ships is another new feature.

Trade can enhance your revenue substantially. It also helps to spread your religion. The further your trading partners and the more exotic resources you exchange, the more money you get from the trade route.

The only problem is that you have to protect your cargo en route or risk having your enemies plunder it.

Many of the new civilisations are designed to take advantage of these new features. Brazil's Pedro 2 gets a 100-per-cent boost to Tourism points when its civilisation enters a Golden Age, while Morocco's Ahmad Al-Mansure gets extra gold with every trade.

An interesting civilisation for those who prefer to rule from the palace is Venice.

It cannot annex its rivals' cities or build new ones of its own. But it can double the number of its trade routes and it can produce a special unit called the Merchant Of Venice - who can buy over entire city states.

A wealthy Venetian ruler can suddenly come into power with enough Merchants and a hefty coffer. Instead of building tanks, he can buy them outright in a distant city state and start attacking rivals far away.

These new features make Civilization V an even more complex strategy game, especially in the later parts of the game when you must use Diplomacy or Culture to win.

Some players may enjoy these changes but I still prefer the good old fashioned way of bringing my enemies to their knees.

ginlee@sph.com.sg

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