Civilization V Impressions - First Look
By Andrew Park, GameSpotPosted Mar 10, 2010 12:00 am PT
2K Games and Firaxis finally show Civilization V at GDC 2010. Get the details here.
For years, the Civilization series has challenged players to assume the role of one of history's greatest leaders, such as Napoleon Bonaparte or Genghis Khan, and try to conquer the world through force of arms, scientific research, or overwhelming cultural superiority. And for years, the series has been synonymous with things like turn-based strategy, insidiously addictive gameplay, and the compulsion to explore every last square on the map. Except that with Civ V, you won't be exploring squares. You'll be exploring hexes. Yes, as you've probably heard, the new version of Civilization will make some noticeable changes to the series, including changing how maps will be divided not into four-sided squares, but into six-sided hexes, and how archers and other ranged units will actually be able to fire on their enemies from more than one hex away (previously, all units did battle by getting adjacent to their targets). These are big changes, but from what we've seen, they not only seem plausible enough to work, but also seem like they'll open up lots of new strategic possibilities. (Which means, you know, more of those sleepless nights.)
We saw Civ V in a hands-off demonstration at the 2010 Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, in the early settlement game, as well as in a later, more-established session against more-developed nations. Civ V's interface is being designed by Firaxis staffer Russell Vaccaro, who also contributed to Firaxis' previous console Civ game, Civilization Revolution. Like that game, Civ V will have a highly streamlined interface that keeps a lot of the information off the main map view in favor of showing the game's detailed 3D world. From a technical perspective, Civ V's overland maps look better than they ever have and feature realistic-looking forests, mountain ranges, and flowing water in the form of inland rivers and sparkling oceans.
While you're gazing from sea to shining sea, you won't have to stare at piles and piles of numbers and icons--instead, while you'll still be able to access menus like your city's build menu, the scientific technology tree, and your diplomacy standings with other nations, they'll all be nested in menus that can be quickly and easily closed up. To make sure you don't forget what you were going to do next, the game will instead offer an enhanced notification system that will alert you to pretty much all happenings in the game, from completed scientific research to finished construction in your cities to discovering ruins (which appear to be the new game's version of goodie huts), and clicking on the notification will always open up the relevant menu and let you do whatever you need. In addition, Civilization III's advisors return in Civ V and will, as usual, offer you helpful tips on the next move you might want to make.