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Videogames Alter Your Perception

Dee Yun Dee Yun: (contact-deleteme[at]-deleteme-direman [dot] com) 2010-09-27 09:30:16

Civilization V May Cause Side Effects Including...

...strained relationships, insomnia, weakened immune system, and indecisively staring at hexagons attempting to ascertain the optimal tile upon which to found a city. Obsessive-compulsive Civ fans are afflicted by this, or by any number of other potentially crippling decisions. You need every possible advantage at the higher difficulties, and the turn-based nature of the game "allows" you to stare at the myriad of options indefinitely in an attempt to play as flawlessly as possible.

Civilization V has instantly become my favorite in the series. Combat has been completely overhauled by a couple of simple changes. Military units no longer stack, requiring vastly more tactical play. Instead of a lazy "stack of doom", this iteration requires you to properly array your forces. The change from a square-based grid to a hexagonal map nicely consummates this significant upgrade. There are several minor changes that some may find questionable, but none are deal breaking. Deeper play reveals (if not justifies) the rationale behind initially bothersome design choices.

The complex difficulties of narrative in videogames have been argued for ages now, and increasingly publicly of late. It just occurred to me that the enduring success of the Civilization series is at least partly due to its masterful handling of narrative. Every single game of Civ relates a different tale, with increasingly complex story arcs culminating in *several* different win conditions or "endings". Choices offer the full range of the moral spectrum (the necessities of geopolitics), as opposed to a simple binary system of light/dark side. True, the historical course of your civilization (with all of its specific pursuits and conflicts) isn't the most obvious example of narrative, but I honestly can't think of another game at this moment that provides as deep and flexible storytelling (along these terms) as Civilization does.

Now Playing - Civilization V
Xbox Live/PSN/Steam Gamertag - Vawce

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