Way too Late Video Game Review – Civilization V – Brave New World

27 Jul

Civ-V-BNW-logo

The Completion of a Masterpiece

Civilization V has been a more than worthy standard bearer of the Civilization series, yes it originally lacked a few systems from previous iterations, but it was a polished game with a few fresh ideas that made it a good Civ, if not the best. Brave New World changed that and with it Civ 5 becomes the high watermark for the legendary strategy franchise.

From _________ with Love

Brave New World refines the espionage system introduced in Gods and Kings. Instead of having a “spy” unit on the board as in previous games, the entire espionage game takes place off of the actual game board, so it all feels a bit more hidden, you know, like espionage… Now you are ordering agents from a menu to:

  1. Go and set up shop in an enemy city, with the hopes of learning some of their plans and stealing some technology.
  2. Go to a city state and rig elections.
  3. Counterspy in one of your cities to catch enemy spies
  4. Go to an enemy city as a diplomat, to negotiate for world council votes (and snoop around)

All of this has massive implications for every civ as how you should use your spies, depends on your situation. Just got that killer technology that will springboard your way to victory? Better protect it with a spy. Worried about your neighbor sneak attacking you? Better snoop around a bit. UN meeting coming up, better make sure you get those city-states in line.

Espionage adds a great layer to the game, without clogging it with too many menus, mechanics or units, Firaxis did an amazing job this time around.

I got an Idea(ology)

Brave New World also adds “ideologies” to the game, which essentially means that they fleshed out the last cultural policy trees, this does give you some more stuff to spend culture on, but the real rub it how these ideologies tie into the last new additions into the game, the new Diplomacy system and the new cultural victory. These “new” trees Order, Autocracy and Freedom are mutually exclusive and provide the backdrop for late game international relations, because if there is anything we have learned from history class, democratically elected governments will never ever support autocratic dictators, warlords or strongmen… right? Nor would a democratically elected government ever overthrow another democratically elected government… right? Oops got already talked about the espionage system. Anyway the choice you make will have immediate effects on your relationships with other leaders and your own people, it turns out some people don’t like be told when to work, eat and sleep… fancy that.

Closer… but still not in the cigar store

Brave new world also introduces an enhanced diplomacy model, taking the aforementioned systems into play in the form of the World Congress, think of it as an early UN, it does have some impact, but it also points out the one glaring flaw in Civilization and many strategy games in general. A relationship system that is completely random and does a great job just doing things for no apparent reason. In an age where we now have fully voiced leaders in animated interactive scenes, why on earth can’t a leader say “I don’t like you, specifically because ______________” or “I want this measure to pass the UN because ____________” or “I am no longer your friend because ________________” this seems like a really simple fix, that could add a lot of depth to the game, yes Civ V has taken a step closer, but it only heading in the right direction, not running towards it.

Tourism

Tourism is the new “culture victory” and should be the first thing long time Civ players work towards once you have the game in hand. Simply put, as the game progresses you can collect artifacts and great works to have your cities generate “tourism”. As your Civ’s tourism rises you will gain “influence” over other civs by the sheer power of your culture. Think of tourism as offensive culture and regular culture as defensive culture. Once your lifetime tourism exceeds a civs lifetime culture you gain “influence” over their culture a quick joke screen with the opposing Civ about how his people are buying your blue jeans and listening to your pop music and thats it… no really, it doesn’t tie into diplomacy or anything… at all… yeah i know kinda anti climatic right? No cities yearning to be part of your mighty empire, no emigration from a lesser civ and the educated masses flee their mud huts to come live it up in your great cities, nothing. This feels like a cool idea just tacked on and not integrated in the rest of the game.

Trade

While it seems like a small addition the new trade routes system bears a quick mention for a few reasons, First off it is a main weapon you have in spreading tourism and/your your religion. 2. It provides and interesting way to help build cities in less than ideal locations. 3. You can pirate other civs trade routes, which who doesn’t want to be a pirate.

Odds and ends

Brave new world also adds two new scenarios “Scramble for Africa” and “American Civil War” which will appeal to the history nut in all of us. It also adds nine new factions to the games roster, one in particular I have fell in love with is the Shoeshone lead by Pocatello. I like my Civ on the Epic or Marathon game lengths, so early game civs are a bit emphasized for me and the Shoeshone have two great bonuses 1. Shoeshone cities start with a great deal more territory, roughly equivalent to 3 culture blooms. 2. Shoeshone unique units are awesome, well one of them, the Comanche Rider are just cheaper, faster cavalry, but the Pathfinder is possibly the best Ancient era unit in the game. Not only is it a scout, but it also has the same combat strength as a warrior AND when ever it lands on a ancient ruin, it may select the bonus that ruin gives… which is amazing, no more pointless map/barbarian ruins, only the good stuff and if you upgrade it with a ruin it skips straight to a composite bowman and keeps the scout trait and the ruin selecting trait. (honestly it is a little broken, it should really upgrade to an archer at least)

Overall

When only looking at the expansion (and not the flaws of the base game) I can only say that Brave New World is the king of expansions in the Civilization Franchise. With the Espionage, Tourism, Great Works, Trade Routes and all the new Civs, Brave New World is a must own expansion for fans of the Civilization franchise. It doesn’t necessarily fix the problems that Civ 5 still carries, but it does provide new gameplay systems that for the most part integrate into the base game and Gods and Kings very nicely.

Now Sid Meier… Sir… can we please get Alpha Centari 2?

9/10

One Response to “Way too Late Video Game Review – Civilization V – Brave New World”

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  1. In-depth Civilization V Infographic Analysis: To Be Published Soon! | Gofort! - July 30, 2013

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