My bro and I were talking on the weekend about games we've played throughout our lives that would be ranked in a top 25 list for us, and while I will end up posting about that specific subject later, I did notice that the Civilization series has had profound impact on our bonding as brothers. From Civ2 when I was 12, all the way through to Civ5, which is the current release, we have put a lot of hours into playing this video game together. Time goes by so slowly (but very quickly at the same time) from 5000BC to 2050AD in one game.
With 23 years of civilizations across the entire series you'd think that it would be a perfect game. But unfortunately, that is not the case. The game has mostly improved with each new version; in gameplay mechanics, visuals and overall balancing, with small steps sideways and maybe a little backwards for the Revolutions console version. Civ3 was the version that changed the game and gave it the direction it needed to get to where it is today, adding culture controlled border expansion and civil unrest due to culture. So where are we today? Until the last expansion for Civ5 the differences in bonuses didn't mean much until the highest possible difficulty level, but now, it has become much more plausible to win a game by using one specific focus for your game play. Tall empires have as much of a chance as wide empires, artists seeking tourism could take the crown from the well researched and having just enough units and power to defend yourself from the likes of Bismarck on a military conquest you could control world congress votes and even achieve a solid diplomatic victory. Civ5 came out while iPhones were still rounded and clunky and was definitely getting old, but the Brave New World expansion was a huge boost to what was becoming a tired game, and added a nice selection of civs with cool bonuses, added the element of tourism to the culture game, and many more updates to overall gameplay. When playing the game in multiplayer, it is a deep experience with lots of avenues to explore and tons of time to be wasted. Playing single player though, is a bit like playing chess or risk by yourself...
Civilization has always been more fun to play with someone else and this brings us to the only fault of the newest edition of the series: the multiplayer. The multiplayer feels lacking; it is without the optimizations that are required to make it a smooth experience. There are many other games that have to make a lot of calculations that I can run at a much higher level of detail without my system overheating, but because there is no thought put into how the game uses the gpu and cpu I find myself having to turn down the stunning visuals to something sub par and still find myself having over heating issues.
Even with these efficiency issues, the game is still very fun to play. If the odd shut off is and a lower level of detail are the only complaints I have I guess it has come a long way. Overall, I would have to give the game a 10 of 13, since ratings are arbitrary and meaningless if you enjoy the game.