Customer Reviews: Sid Meier's Civilization V
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on December 4, 2010
The working relationship between a game designer and his publisher is never a simple one. So I would not know where exactly to place the blame, Sid Meyer or 2K GAMES. But in the end, it does not matter. Because it is simply sad to see a great gaming franchise came to this.

A great number of major features of this beloved series have been simply removed. A fellow gamer called this "Civilization For Dummies" and he is absolutely right.
There is no trading maps or technologies. There is no claiming resources outside your borders by building a colony. There is no need for transport ships as units apparently are now all..amphibious (and they need 15-20 turns to cross an ocean!). There are no city-growth milestone requirements (granary, aqueduct, refrigeration). There is no culturally conquering an enemy city (detonating a "culture bomb" by consuming a Great Artist will only get you extra territory tiles but no cities). There are no spies nor health/pollution balance. And there are no armies (please read on).

Someone please tell me what was so wrong with armies that had to be yanked out? Napoleon almost conquered Europe with one army. Germany almost conquered the eastern hemisphere with three and the US still holds a two-and-a-half armies doctrine. How can a turn-based game be called Civilization unless one can emulate, well, a real civilization? Building an army, seasoning it on minor conflicts and then going for the enemy's capital was one of the most fun parts of any Civilization game. Why Sid, why?

Movement should be hindered by rough terrain. Units that have 3 or 4 moves on the plains should not be expected to do more than 1 or 2 on a mountain, right? Well, no. Mountains seem to be those magical places no unit can climb or pass through (not even ...helicopters of jet fighters!). And I cannot see how this makes for more complicated strategic decisions than timing your movements, claiming the high ground and having a bonus for elevated artillery?

A major issue for me, this was what really ruined the game. For some unfathomable reason units cannot be stacked. A worker can coexist with a military unit but that's it. Artillery and shock-cavalry are very vulnerable to attacks and (with the new hexagon layout) one would need ...six defensive units to protect a single artillery battery.
As a result, units keep getting on each other's way (especially when ordered to move for distances that require more than a turn), they refuse to even pass through friendly units (!) and the "tactical" considerations that result from this are trivial. And whenever besieging an enemy city, one has to endlessly maneuver his units around it (while exposed to its bombardment) whereas wounded units are never easy to withdraw.
You cannot even garrison more than a single unit within a city. Not that it would make a difference, since the garrisoned unit is not automatically awaken to fight back when the city is under attack(!), the city is left to defend itself.

The economy is nose-diving into the red and you want to reduce the percentage going into research for a while to avoid having units of yours deleted one by one? The fickle people of your civilization are unhappy and you want to placate them by increasing their entertainment allocation? You have discovered conscription and you want to upgrade all your musketeers into recruits? Well, TOUGH LUCK! There is not central command screen to do so. Only advisers that you have to thank for annoying you.
You have zero control of both your cities resource distribution and your national economy. And units have to be hunted down and upgraded one by one.
Speaking of the economy, when are going to see a Civilization game where one can run and manage a national debt?

The game does look new and polished and the units are well designed but not cutting edge and not without a steep hardware price. If you expect anything comparable to STARCRAFT II crispiness you will be disappointed - at my 1280x1024 resolution it is not easy to discern roads from railroads.
The system I am running my copy was top of the line about a year ago and still I had to tweak the video settings with a mix of high and medium to get it running. Even then, whenever I scroll to a different location of the map, I can see the image fleshing out, just like zooming in a Google-Earth map.
So one can only wonder: why should one need a...Cray to run a Civilization game at full?

The game requires OnLine Activation (and rumored perpetual reactivation every few days) and has to be tied to a STEAM account. Effectively this means that the game is a piece of rentware the buyer never really owns and yet it is sold at full price. I realize that to some people this may not be a serious issue so, in case you are wondering, I deducted a single star from my overall rating of the game because of its DRM scheme. To every other gamer however, you can now make an informed decision.

This was a major disappointment. I never though I'd say this but I while playing the latest Civilization game I caught myself wondering if they would ever make...CALL TO POWER III.

New gamers, steer clear of this mess, this is NOT what a Civilization game plays like.
Seasoned gamers, we know better than to call this a Civilization game.

Sorry Sid, EPIC FAIL.
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on December 6, 2010
This is about the Mac version of the game, I've not played the PC version, though game mechanics should be the same.

I read a couple of reviews complaining that the game was "watered down" or dumbed down in some way, but I don't feel that way at all. This is more like your standard Civ experience than is Civilization Revolutions for counsels (now that was watered down!). However there are some big changes. In fairness, if you've read any articles about the games development, or any game previews or preliminary reviews from game websites/magazines, you would know the big changes; 1) Hex tile board layout instead of squares, 2) no more unit stacking, 3) religion gone and cultural sway over rival civilizations reduced, and 4) the strategic limits of resources (one horse doesn't mean unlimited mounted units but instead 1 -4 [depending on the specific tile] mounted regiments]
For those who have played earlier versions of the game, these are huge changes (except maybe religion which was an addition itself to Civ IV). It's up to the individual gamer whether they accept them or not. I think they're good changes. Not necessarily better, and sometimes I still boot up Civ II, III, or IV to play those versions, but I like this new one, and the changes add a certain different balance that, contrary to some reviewers, I feel adds realism to the game.
1) the hex layout is familiar to anyone who plays battle simulation games like Axis and Allies Miniatures or Warhammer or the new D&D. It's sort of been accepted over the past decade and a half as the standard and it adds more fidelity to the combat. I kind of wish the Civ makers went further and allowed for flanking units like these strategy games I mentioned do so that if you come from the rear or rear side (one of the three hex sides to the rear of the unit) than you would get a bonus to attacks, but the don't do THAT in Civ V. although the hex layout does allow for more nuanced confrontations in combat.
2) the no more unit stacking is, in my mind, a great idea. Someone mentioned in an earlier review on this site that unit stacking amounted to representations of 'Armies' and that, for instance Napoleon had one army that conquered Europe, Germany 3, etc... The thing is, the "Army(ies)" being mentioned didn't consist of one large mass huddled on one terrain feature! Unit stacking the way it's been done in previous Civ games was getting too extreme. This is a step in the right direction with this game. Though I think they went a little too far and could have nuanced a little and say maybe two something like three "human" (infantry, swordsman, worker, settler, etc) type units can be on one hex, or one mechanized/cavalry type unit and one human type unit, but never two mechanized/cavalry units. (I think that's how Axis and Allies does it). This would allow you to have a couple workers in one hex doing different improvements, or a unit of pikemen and a unit of archers in on spot which you can't do now. It's just one military type and one civilian type (worker, settler, great person, etc) in each square. This seems little overly restrictive.
3) the elimination of some of those ways to steal and disrupt cities isn't a outright bad thing. Religion was too preposterously powerful in the earlier game.And it needed to go. The fact you can't use culture to 'turn' a city to your empire seems fine to me.
4) limited resource loads and uses... this is a great thing and much more realistic. It' isn't like you should ever have unlimited resources since that isn't very realistic.

Basically, the whole change has been to make the combat more effective and realistic. In previous games it was treated almost as if you were in charge of individual soldiers, and you'd build an army of literally hundreds of units. The whole thing became too complex. Now you are clearly building regiments or brigades of troops and you won't often have more than 20 or so combat units engaged in a war. This is actually a lot more realistic. Commanders don't control individual soldiers, they control the regiments, groups and brigades. This game is trying to lean in that direction, and I think it's the right way to go.

There are other minor changes. Scientific research and gold collection are completely separate now, and you can't linearly choose between the two through a funds allocation slider (though how you place your workers does choose between gold creation and science point creation). Golden ages happen automatically, in addition to great person activated ways, through the accumulation of excess happiness points. Happiness itself is now empire based and not per city as in the past. happiness is really what stops empires from growing now, not gold. New cities make more and more money but at the cost of happiness points which stunt growth and put you on a path to destruction if you aren't careful. And I'm sure there are more I'm not thinking of right now. The game is really more different than it's predecessors than at any other evolution in the series (again, discounting the Civ Revolutions series of games).

now why for the lack of a star, well the game on Mac is less than good in terms of the amount of flaws and bugs that creep up. I would have thought that the release would have been a more finished product, but the game has a lot of glitches with freezing up and misssing features. I would have thought they might address some of those concers prior to release. I hear that the PC version is more polished, and I know that there are a number of add ons and download mods that work on PC but not Mac. I just have to hope that they fix this problem and patch the game when possible as well as convert the mods over to Mac as well. But the core game is good, so it isn't enough of a downer to cost the game all it's good will, just one star. So four out of five is my opinion, five for gameplay minus one for poor software design and lack of add-on options. Otherwise it's a good/great game.

Thanks for the question! I should actually update this post since there have been some notable improvements.
In terms of the downloadable content (extra stuff you have to pay for) the Mac version is now on par for the most part with the PC version. I think there are still a couple civilization mods that make it to the PC first, but I've been able to get most everything on the Mac.
Next, there have been, I think, 4 major patches to the game over the last year that have focused on clearing out some stability bugs and improving competitive balance. The end result is that the game doesn't crash in me nearly as much. They added a feature that lets me adjust the auto save timer so I set it to save after every other turn and so even in the rare instance when it does crash I can go right back to my spot.
They added a component to combat to account for flanking, addressing a comment I made in my second point in the original review. A 10% bonus is added for two units facing an enemy from non-adjacent hex squares - for a max of 20% bonus with three units surrounding one.
There have been adjustments made to the social policies since a couple added too much bonus early on.
Relations with City-states are more difficult to maintain. Before it was too easy to befriend a dozen city states and it was like a cheap way to have a mini empire without the overhead. That's more difficult now.

Overall the improvements have been welcome, and while I would still like to see more DLC items to include more leaders and more civilizations. And the fact that it still isn't possible to use the user mod feature to create your own layout on a Mac version like you can on a PC version is missed by some (not me really, I never use it) means that there are still some minor improvements that could be made. But I would now rate this closer to five stars as opposed to four.
Maybe 4 1/2 or 4 3/4 stars if that were possible. The PC version, which I've now played, would be 5 stars.
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on November 29, 2010
Having played most every version of Civilization since it came out (I missed Civ 3) I was eagerly awaiting this newest installment. The preview videos you see over the web looked fabulous. And, let's face it, if you're into Civilization, you're going to be eager to play the latest version. "Just one more turn" and all that.

So after buying the DVD version and receiving it, here's the skinny:

1. Installation is a bit of a pain because you have to download the Valve Steam stuff online. In my opinion that should be included on the DVD.
2. Make SURE you go to to check the LATEST version of the system requirements. They're VERY particular. Hopefully they'll improve compatibility over time, but many common Mac graphics cards are NOT supported. Also, it's Snow Leopard (10.6.4 and greater) ONLY.
3. After I installed it, I could get to set up but couldn't actually start the game. It would always freeze up. Then I restarted my system and it worked fine. I'm on an iMac Core2 Duo 2.93 with NVidia GT120.
4. Once you get it running, the first thing you'll notice is that the environment is beautiful. I'm running it at 1900x1200 full screen and love it.
5. The next thing you notice is that it's significantly slower than Civ 4. To be expected for sure. But it really seems to be taking everything this machine has and could use some more.
6. The units don't seem to take multi-step direction as well as Civ 4. This is annoying. If there is any inconvenient obstacle, it essentially won't take the order. Sometimes it doesn't take the order anyway. There may be more to it than that, but that's the way it feels.
7. Combat is totally different. Especially when besieging cities. But I like the new combat system.
8. The longer you play, the slower it gets. Hopefully Apple will release some sort of 12-core iMac that I can justify to my wife in the near future :)
9. According to Aspyr, when you buy the Mac version, you are ALSO getting the PC version. You are able to download for either platform and play either platform (just not at the same time). Personally, I think this is an excellent thing. Boot Camp it and you're up on the PC side in no time.

If you are wary from reading the other current reviews, then that's reasonable. Wait for the first or second patch and keep up with it in the various forums available for this stuff. But if your system is supported according to the current system requirements on the developer's site, I think the game is worth purchasing. It's fun. It's beautiful. It's Civ.

I'd give this 4 solid stars if it weren't for the strict system requirements and the fact that if you have them it's still pretty slow.
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on December 3, 2011
I downloaded this game on my brand new MBP. But was never able to get the game to launch without freezing. When I contacted ASPYR customer support I received the generic canned answer.

"A recent Apple Software update has caused freezing issues to occur on 10.7.2 with HD 3000 MBP models for Civilization V. We are working with Apple to resolve this issue. We appreciate your patience in this matter."

that was 3 months ago and the game still doesn't work. NO NEW updates and NO REFUND. It's like ASPYR doesn't care.
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on June 24, 2011
Sure, you need a Steam account in order to launch it.

Sure, if the guys who design the Steam interface were smacked upside the head with a tack hammer, it wouldn't adversely effect the performance of it (try having an update queued in offline mode and then go ahead and find the registry.vdf file in your User > [you] > Library > Application Support > Steam folder and set 'offline' from '1' to '0' by opening it as text file in TextEdit.)

Sure, there have been reports of being unable to open the game after the first time. For me, it works all the time, so I can't speak to that.

Sure, the max graphics on a large (not max size) map make my brand new quad core 3.1ghz 2gbVram iMac sneeze when i scroll in.

If you can run it, the game harkens back to what made Civilization special; one combat unit (plus one noncombat unit) per world tile changes about as much as the change from square isometric to hex does, but that really just adds to the strategy of the game, and removes the confusion of stacks of dozens or hundreds of units. You can no longer hide a gigantic army in a tiny port town on an enemy border, but that works both ways: now you can actually see when an enemy is about to mount an assault on you. Chess only has one unit per square, after all, so this thing isn't unheard of.

(The thing about the registry.vdf file is for real though. This is the other side of the coin of having PC games on Mac, doing things the PC way. On the bright side, doing it this way can give you a bit more power over the options, like how doing the same would change vapor effects in KotOR Mac.)

The game has a simple, 2D, top-down hex grid mode very similar to the game hexciv, and you can swap between that and the full graphics mode at any time. If the graphics are a serious issue, that might work.

If you love Civ and are capable of playing Portal 2, buy this game immediately or sooner. Otherwise, if you can meet the minimum system requirements, grab it.

When I started writing this, there were no reviews for the Mac download of this game. If you're still reading this, hear my plea: buy this game. It will encourage more developers to port more games to Mac so we don't have to risk installing Win 7 in boot camp or whatever and thus falling prey to spyware and viruses.
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on December 27, 2010
This is not a real Mac game... it is a series of annoying hacks that sometimes work and sometimes don't.

I can't play it on a macbook pro that's only two years old and perfectly serviceable. All I get is a grey screen and a box. It runs on my newer one but badly. Halfway through the game things slow down incredibly with 4gb of RAM.

If it ran decently this would be a great game, but no way it's worth the cost in this condition.

Anyone who wants to release a Mac game should MAKE a real Mac port, [...]. If Blizzard can do it so can anyone else.
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on December 10, 2010
My title says it all. Once I got to around Future Tech, with a high-end iMac, the game consistently crashes (as in, more than once per game *turn*). This is just unacceptable quality. Don't waste your money on a piece of software that doesn't work.
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on December 20, 2010
UPDATE (moving from 2 stars to 4): I have a new, faster computer and downloaded Civ V via the Mac App Store and have not had any performance issues at all. No more dealing with Steam and the game runs very well. The game itself is fun and the graphics are great. Gameplay wise it may not be quite as fun as Civ IV but it's a good way to spend a few hours of your time.

I've played all of the Civ games since Civ II and (and I've played them more than I'd like to admit). This latest installment was a real disappointment for me. I bought it yesterday at the Apple Store and ran into problems as soon as I put the disc in. First of all, it seems that there is an old version of "Steam" that installs from this disc because it would not launch at all. I kept getting this error about not being connected to the internet which was clearly not the case. After about 30 minutes of reading forums online I got the idea of downloading Steam directly from their site in the hopes that they would have the most updated version and it would work. It worked. But that was just the beginning.

The game itself is OK. It does seem a little simplified, but I do like the new City-States feature. The problem is with the performance of the game once you get a few cities built. The game is horribly slow and it totally ruined it for me. My system is well above the requirements (see below for my system specs if you are curious) and I had all of the video settings turned to the lowest possible option and it was still horribly choppy and slow. It is not enjoyable at all.

If you have some sort of a crazy powerful Mac Pro with tons of processors and ram then you should be ok with performance... but I just got back from the Apple Store where I exchanged Civ V for a trusty copy of Civ IV because I know that will work well on my system.

My computer is a 6-month old Macbook Pro that was top of the line when I bought it. Here are the specs:

- Mac OS X Snow Leopard
- Intel Core i7, 2.66 GHz
- 4 GB Ram
- NVIDEO Geoforce GT 330M, 512 MB VRAM
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on February 20, 2011
Other reviewers have addressed the concerns over departures from prior Civilization games and Steam's anti-piracy measures. I want to address a more fundamental problem with the game - it doesn't work. Performance is poor at best on an i7 MacBook Pro with 8GB RAM and the game must be set to the lowest graphic settings to be playable. Crashes are frequent - some are random, but most are triggered by specific game events and necessitate restarting the game.

I can only speak to my experience. I see two or more crashes an hour and have never been able to complete a game due to progressive stability and performance problems in the later stages.

Civilization V simply doesn't work.
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on October 18, 2011
MAC users shouldn't download this game from here. It requires a Steam account, that once you change the location of the game within your mac, an error message will start to appear and you won't be able to open the game anymore, even if you reinstall it, or download it again from your Amazon Games Library.

When I contacted Amazon, they just sent me the seller's contact. Poor service.

Who is feeling lucky and want to try since it's cheaper (compared with the MacAppStore), try reading the Amazon's refund policy for downloadable games before buying it. I didn't read and wasted my money.
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