Review

Civilization V: Brave New World

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I wasn’t going to write this review. Well, I had every intention of writing it, but as the due date loomed ever closer I just couldn’t stop playing Sid Meier’s Civilization V: Brave New World. I was faking injuries, hospital visits and funerals, but in the end I had to give in under the pressure from the editor. And in a sense, this is exactly what Brave New World is about: Holding out as long as possible before you give in to stronger people.

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You should read our Civilization V review to get some understanding of what the game is about (and why this turn-based strategy series is so addictive), but the Brave New World expansion is, at its core, what you would expect. You get a few more nations to play as, as few more research trees to explore, and a few features to change how the game is played, but Brave New World does more than just tick the required boxes.

Of the features there are a few that really stand out, the most obvious being the new trade routes that open up pretty early on in the game, allowing you to set up routes with any city and gain access to material you might never have had. Setting the type of trade that takes place on the route gives you control, making sure that when you research internal combustion, for example, that you have access to oil for fuel.

Not only does this provide access to new trade items, but it also means you can now help a newly founded city grow more quickly by supplying them with food and other essential items. Later on in the game you can trade scientific research points and even religious influence.

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In later stages of Brave New World, when all nations have been discovered, the leaders of the nations form the World Congress. My first thought was that this is like the United Nations, but unlike the UN even warring nations come together and discuss very important things, like politicians do.

The first nation to discover all other nations gets to be the host of the first congress and has more influence at these meetings. More influence can be gained by being on the good side of city-states, for example. At these meetings resolutions can be made that, while not providing a winner, can certainly influence your partnerships and who will eventually win the game. So if your neighbour is flourishing and has an excess of fur as a tradable item, you can propose a resolution to outlaw the trade of fur. This will mean less cash for that nation putting them under loads of pressure [Meanie! - Ed]

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Accomplishing victory now has another non-violent route, too. A cultural victory is accomplished when your new tourism rating outnumbers the other nations’ cultural rating, and tourism points are awarded when your great persons create great works in your cities. These persons are consumed by cultural buildings, while their works are displayed for all to see. Archaeologists can also now find and excavate important sites, earning you some more tourism points if these sites are converted into tourism locations. Alternatively they can be sold back to their nations for a pretty penny.

Focusing on cultural victory is not easy at all though, and I am yet to achieve this – the biggest problem are your neighbours. When your early game neighbours are war-loving or just easily agitated you will be better off focussing your energy on defensive or even offensive strategies. End up next to a cultural loving, all singing all dancing nation and they can help you to victory.

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These additions makes the later stages of Civilization much more intricate. Diplomacy and trade plays such a big role that you will spend ages wringing every last cent out of a trade or spend a few more gold coins to keep an ally happy. Where the last few turns in a game were usually about who has the most advanced weapons, they can now convince their neighbours that we all should just get along! Oh, and come together and look at the Mona Lisa (small admission fee applies).

This brings us nicely to the biggest flaw of Brave New World: The artificial intelligence. Firstly, they have no sense of what a fair deal is, putting ridiculous terms on the table for something that should be very simple. Then they will denounce you for absolutely no reason, bringing their allies into strife with you as well, regardless of how good your relationship with said allies have been like up to that point.

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With many new features that have a lasting effect on the outcome of the game from a very early point in your progress, it could be quite intimidating to new players and seasoned veterans alike. Thankfully the in-game help system allows you to change the level of assistance to be specific to new expansion features (Brave New World, for example), all the way to every feature, old or new. Now you are only offered assistance when you come across a feature you’ve never seen before.

Unfortunately these features are not explained in too much detail, but since you won’t be playing Brave New World just once, you can always consider the first run through as a trial. If you ever make it through one game all the way to the end you will be back for more. And more. And more.

Civilization V: Brave New World is as fantastic as you would expect it to be. New gameplay, new end-games, new nationalities… they’re all there. Combined with what is one of the most enduring games ever and you won’t have time to write reviews, either. Please, can I go back to playing now?

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The Good: Superb additions with a more intricate end game; Another peaceful victory!

The Bad: AI still as sharp as a meatball (although some will say it has good business acumen)


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