Stands the Test of Time
Sid Meier’s Civilization series made famous the phrase, “one more turn,” and for good reason. From the moment a random new world presents itself, it is engulfed in uncharted “fog” that just begs to be blown away by the winds of discovery. The possibility of fertile terrain, special resources, rewarding ruins, and encounters with foreign powers keeps you pushing that “End Turn” button to refresh the movement points for your scouts and early martial units. Hours into a match, when the entire map has been charted and you are in strong pursuit of expanding your borders and grasping the last precious unclaimed resources, “one more turn” has evolved from a few seconds of land discovery to several minutes of careful military calculations and building choices to keep your citizens satisfied and inch you closer to victory. In Civilization games, the real world vanishes and your focused eyes belie the muscular aches throughout the rest of your body after hours of gameplay. If this syndrome gives you pause, then I suggest steering well clear of Sid Meier’s Civilization VI , as its level of addictiveness surpasses all before it. This entry brings thoughtful improvements and engaging new gameplay features that grant more freedom and flexibility to shape your empire from 4000 B.C. all the way through the Information Era.
The succulent menu screen lets you decide on the size of your entree, its complexity, and the type of cuisine you prefer, be it Greek, French, Chinese, or good old American, among many other worldly dishes. Each civilization provides unique perks, buildings, and military units authentic to their historical profile. Some focus on early age aggression, while others have a penchant for erecting world wonders. Some excel at exploring the oceans, and some are better at spreading faith. Whether your play style leans more towards a cultural, scientific, religious, or domination victory, there are several civilization options at your disposal. Or you could randomize everything and let chance decide your course.
Settling your first city and expanding your empire in previous Civilization games was a comparably easy affair when placed next to the system in place in Civilization VI , in part due to the new district system. Instead of simply cramming buildings into the City Center, other tiles within your borders can be home to many different districts such as Harbors, Encampments, Holy Sites, and others, some exclusive to specific civilizations. Districts, along with World Wonders, occupy an entire hex on the grid-based map, gaining bonuses based on adjacent tiles, and sometimes requiring specific terrain to build. This system places an extreme emphasis on resource management, much more than any previous Civ game. It also requires a great deal of forethought, which will likely frustrate players when they unlock a new district or Wonder only to discover the ideal space is no longer vacant. This feature, paired with each civilization’s unique bonuses, requires a couple of full playthroughs in order to comfortably plot a game plan.
Plenty of gameplay staples have been tweaked and improved. The tech tree, for instance, has removed a fair bit of clutter by shifting some of its advancements into a separate civics tree. Along with its own buildings, units, and new forms of government, each civics development rewards you with perk cards that can be swapped in and out of military, economic, diplomatic, and wildcard slots, granting increased flexibility to provide succor as the situation in the game changes.
Speaking of goals, Civilization VI offers plenty of side quest incentives to pursue that provide boons to achieving the victory condition you are striving for. Some techs and civics have specific objectives that when completed prompt a “Eureka!” or “Inspiration!” moment, respectively, cutting that particular research time in half. Neutrally aligned city-states also dish out quests, adding envoys and improving their standing with whichever civilization completes it. Opposing leaders also have their own agendas, which fluctuate from game to game, affecting their strategic course of action and offering hints on how to keep an amicable relationship with them or goad them into war.
It’s a little hard to take their threats seriously, though, with the cartoonish art style developer Firaxis leaned on this time around. At first glance you might think you’ve booted up a new Civilization Revolution game with a smattering of Age of Empires architecture. The combat animations are quite unrealistically overblown as well. The quality and bustle of action is remarkable, however, with the world burgeoning with life on every tile not surrounded by the pleasing tan draped fog of war. The cartography inspired overlay that basks the undiscovered portions of the map is so finely drawn, it’s almost a shame to wipe it permanently away after new territory is discovered. As in reality, the map can eventually become oversaturated with activity as urban erections make tucked away, unsullied land a sight for sore eyes.
Though your eyes may get strained, your ears most certainly will not. Every click of the mouse yields a satisfying audible acknowledgment of your action, whether breaking ground for the construction of a new Wonder, or simply moving your scout through a lifeless desert. Each civilization has a pleasing selection of culturally appropriate background songs. The highly touted Civ VI theme song, “Sogno di Volare,” composed by the acclaimed Christopher Tin, is a glorified church hymn. It has a pleasant harmony and full orchestra, but still pales in comparison to the Swahili sung “Baba Yetu” that was the main theme of Civilization IV . The choice to enlist Sean Bean for the role of narrator was a lucrative one that could sell copies of the game on his merit and popularity alone. From past film credits, I half expected his delivery to be aggressive and haughty, but was delighted to find it calm, eloquent, and sagely, with an oratory quality that would challenge his narrating predecessors William Morgan Sheppard and the late, great Leonard Nimoy for top honors.
Sid Meier’s Civilization games have oft posed this question to gamers of their empire choice: “Will you stand the test of time?” As a series celebrating its twenty-fifth year with a new entry easily toppling its predecessors, it has answered its own question with a firm and absolute, “Yes!” The only question that remains for those who have taken up the mantle of Civilization VI ‘s embrace is, can you yield to just one more turn?
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 4.4 Graphics
The visual style is a bit juvenile, but the world is vivid and bursting with life. The animations, though exaggerated, give the entire map energy. 4.6 Control
There are a ton of information screens to decipher during play, but fortunately you’ll feel like you’re wielding the Rosetta Stone with how smoothly everything is laid out. 4.8 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Superb voice acting, culturally authentic background music, and sound effects both practical and invigorating. The main theme song is nice, just not as great as “Baba Yetu.” 4.8 Play Value
The learning curve is steep for new players, and the new features will disorient veterans for the first few matches. But once you grasp the concepts, you won’t want to loosen your grip on the mouse. 4.7 Overall Rating – Must Buy
Not an average. See Rating legend below for a final score breakdown.
|Review Rating Legend
|0.1 – 1.9 = Avoid
|2.5 – 2.9 = Average
|3.5 – 3.9 = Good
|4.5 – 4.9 = Must Buy
|2.0 – 2.4 = Poor
|3.0 – 3.4 = Fair
|4.0 – 4.4 = Great
|5.0 = The Best