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My totally unbiased and definitely not paid for by 2k review

Discussion in 'Civ5 - General Discussions' started by Afforess, Sep 28, 2010.

  1. Afforess

    Afforess The White Wizard

    Joined:
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    I’ve played Civ5 for several days, and I feel it’s time for an official review - from a modder’s prospective. For those who prefer the tl;dr, scroll to the bottom for the score.

    (PS Firaxis - I can totally be bought. For instance, if I (happened to accidentally) receive a beta copy of the Civ5 Source Code, I'd totally give you guys a 100% revise my score on an impartial basis)

    War:
    1UPT makes war a lot more interesting. Barbarians become a real menace, terrain and unit formations matter, and your military depends more on how you use it rather than who has more techs. It’s a refreshing change. Score for Firaxis. In Civ4, when you fell behind in technologies, if you couldn’t pull of a miracle, you’re toast. In Civ5, technologies still matter, but they aren’t the game crushingly important factor, that always was pushing your slider up and up and up. (Score for Firaxis!) War in Civ5 is nearly as perfect as it could be. Only one thing ruins this perfect war simulator - the AI. Firaxis did succeed in teaching the AI that the best defense is a good offense. When war starts, the AI starts out great, plenty of units, decent placement, and actually will pillage improvements (Civ4 AI never pillaged!) But once the going gets rough, the tough... are nowhere to be found? Once the AI’s main fighting force gets depleted, they get steamrolled. Firaxis failed to teach the AI that the best offense is a good defense. The AI doesn’t seem to understand the concept of a reserve force. Worse yet, the AI units seem to suffer from ADHD, embarking and disembarking, even when within range of power enemy siege and ranged forces, making them minced meat. Worst of all, unprotected settlers and workers near the front seem to be a common sight. And I’ve yet to see the AI use a Great General to boost their troops stats. Once the initial combat is over, it turns from a lively battle into a total slaughterhouse, with the AI playing the role of the pigs. (Strike for Firaxis)

    Spoiler :

    The AI, being totally ruined by a few units in the way.


    Score: +2 / -1

    Peace:
    Diplomacy is definitely more interesting. I agree with the decision to turn leaders into actual players competing for victory. Score for Firaxis. I also commend the decision to hide the diplomacy modifiers. Half the fun of studying real world diplomacy is that you only know what the other country’s plans are after the fact. The same should be, and now is true of Civilization. Score Two for Firaxis. However, diplomacy feels a bit too...artificial. All of the peaceful leaning AI’s will ask for pacts of Cooperation on the same turn. All of the warmongering AI’s all ask for pacts of Secrecy on the same turn. All the AI’s with extra gold ask for Research pacts on the same turn. While it might be the most “strategic” course of action for the AI, it’s also breaks the immersion. Strike for Firaxis.

    Score: +4 / -2

    Cities, Gold, and Happiness, oh my!
    Cities having their own defenses is historically accurate, and a good game-play decision. Score for Firaxis. Removing the (unnecessary and largely confusing) commerce breakdown and allowing tiles to generate culture, science, and gold themselves, Score two for Firaxis. I like the way great specialists (especially great generals) and Golden Ages are implemented and both are both great for game-play. Score three for Firaxis. (The point of a review is to review the CONTENT of a game, not the LACK OF content. Therefore, Firaxis loses no points for removing unhealthiness, amongst other things.) Cities production, on the other hand, seems a bit low. Perhaps it’s as Firaxis intended, but it causes me to press “End Turn” without doing anything far too often. I don’t mind the longer turn times, but longer turn times with no action in-between... that’s boring. Strike one. The way maintenance is calculated for units is very opaque. I had hopes that perhaps there was a in-depth breakdown in the economic advisor, but players hoping to find any real information in the economic panel will be sorely disappointed. The economic panel contains little to no relevant information that the gold hover doesn’t already convey. Worse yet, there seems to be no discernible formula for unit maintenance. One new unit might cost 2 gold a turn. The next, seven. The next, none. This reeks of integer division. A prediction of the gold maintenance for the new unit would be ideal on the city build screen. Strike two for the economy. Global Happiness is a great idea, forcing players to micro-manage their empires, which can be a good thing, as long as it isn’t exploitative. Apparently, the AI has learned that it’s an extremely lucrative strategy - ignoring happiness altogether. By the second half of any game, one AI has trounced most of the others, creating a global hegemony that often rival’s Peter Wiggin’s. It has achieved this by simply ignoring happiness. Consider extreme unhappiness’s downsides - decreased production, no city growth, no happiness-induced golden ages, and a combat penalty. No consider the positives - extra gold from production, cities switch from wasteful food tiles to gold and production tiles, no maintenance from happiness buildings (often 7-10 gold a city, even more in annexed cities), and extreme science rates. Basically, unhappy empires are more productive and lucrative than happy ones! It’s at this point that I wonder why Firaxis didn’t take the extra time to create a revolutions or immigrations system. In Civ4, the Revolutions mod (by Jdog5000, and company) penalized unhappy empires by causing civil wars, amongst other things. Alternatively, happiness penalties could have been combined with a loose immigration and nationality system, where unhappy citizens leave to find a better life, which is not without historical precedent. In fact, it’s the reason immigrants exist in the first place. Unfortunately for Firaxis, no one on the design team thought of this. (Strike three for Firaxis)

    Score: +7/ -5

    City States, Social Policies, and how I learned to love the new victory conditions.
    Social policies are a very interesting addition to the game. There is no existing facsimile in the Civilization series (some say the tech tree, but I disagree). Honestly, I can’t say whether I like them or not. I’ve played games where I almost entirely ignored them, and others where I focused my empire on obtaining them. I wonder if the gold cost over the entire game is enough to make the investment (in turns and gold) worthwhile. But at the same time, some are quite powerful... I’m going to leave this as a neutral appraisal. I think I’ll be able to better judge them in time. City States on the other hand... They appeared at first to be domineering cities with an attitude problem. They have the swagger and make demands even more unreasonable than most full civilizations, and expect to be treated with the same respect. I don’t lose much sleep when an AI crushes one. The gold cost of burning a city state to the ground, and replacing it with one of your cities is much much lower than it would be to pay for it to be an ally. I also get the extra production, gold, and science to boot. Generally, I will keep them around if they make easy requests, or are bothering my enemies, but most of the time, their just a training field for my troops. Not that this is a bad thing though. City-States are both a win for historical accuracy and gameplay. My very first game, I went to war to protect an ally city state - definitely a major gameplay turn. Score for Firaxis. The victory conditions in Civilization 5 are simple enough to be achievable, but complex enough for entire volumes of strategy guides to be dedicated to beating them. Take domination for example. In Civ4, domination and conquest were nearly synonymous. New players often had a hard time distinguishing between the two, for good reason. Domination is very different from other conditions. Have all the other empires lose their capital while keeping yours. Simple enough, right? Wrong. In all likelihood, that last capital will be in a landlocked city on another continent, surrounded by enemy allied city states and an armada to boot. Don’t believe me? Just ask Lemmy101 on his exploits. Score for Firaxis.

    Score: +9 -5

    The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. Wonders are supposed to be the pinnacle of gameplay, providing something to work and strive for. So why do I cringe inside when I see the Eiffel Tower gives +8 happiness? 8 Happiness?! Excuse me - but why should I wait 66 turns to finish it, when I could have conquered another civilization (and gained all their wonders and resources)? The wonders are very underwhelming, and fluctuate between massively weak, and massively over-powered. Strike for Firaxis. Workers. My very first game, I didn’t want to control my workers, so I automated them. Big Mistake. Apparently, automated workers have this brilliant idea that removing an existing farm, replacing it with a trading post, then replacing the very same trading post with a farm is a good plan of action. I’ve opted to micro-managing them instead. Strike for Firaxis. Rivers are being beaten to death for their appearance in-game, but I don’t see the big deal, they look fine to me. What bothers me is that the terrain and units can easily become indistinguishable. Unless you have 20/20 vision, and a eidetic memory, you’re going to need to glance two or three times to figure out what unit that is. It doesn’t matter that the unit is now rendered in 5000 polygons with state-of-the-art trifactoring, I want to see the unit. Instead of fixing the artwork - Firaxis opted to add a “strategic” view, which does technically fix the problem. I now understand why 2kGreg said he has played entire games in the “strategic” view - because the normal view just doesn’t cut it. Strike for Firaxis.

    Score: +9/ -8

    The Leftovers. There are a lot of things I simply can’t cover in this review if I want to have any semblance of a life (read: play more civilization 5). Steam, modding tools, The UI, etc, etc, etc. I’ll go quickly then. Steam was a good decision, +1 for Firaxis. Modding tools that make it easier for modders to distribute content, and easier for users to find content. +1 for Firaxis. The unobtrusive UI, +1 for Firaxis.

    Score: +12/ -8

    If you’re just getting here after reading the review in it’s entirely, bravo. I commend your literacy, and am sure your nation will be the mostest literate of them all. If you took the tl;dr, route bravo also. I’m sure you’ll have developed well-thought arguments to counter any pre-conceived points and biases you think I (correctly, or incorrectly) have in the time it took to scroll here. Now, the score is simply a test of your math skills. 8 negative points and 12 positive points add to a total of 20 points. 12/20 = 60%. It’s far better than the average direct from the movie that went straight to dvd to gameplay game, but it has suffers from some serious problems, and could have done with an extra month of development. The AI is the most glaring of these, but I have high hopes that patches (and later, Better AI mods) will fix this. My biggest suggestion to Firaxis is this: release the source code ASAP. I suspect you’ll find and fix more bugs with more eyes on your code. Please don’t wait as long as you did for Civ4.



    Now, for those interested, I've also compiled a list of suggestions for Firaxis. Some of these have already been mentioned, but are included for completeness's sake:
    • No max XP for killing barbarians, instead XP should decrease from kills logarithmically.
    • Increase Barbarian spawn rate for normal game, and raging barbarians
    • Require Pact of Cooperation for Research Agreements, Open Borders, Defensive Pacts
    • If you have a pact of Cooperation, you can not declare war.
    • f you cancel a pact of Cooperation, it takes a 5 turns (normal speed) cool down time before you can declare war.
    • Pact of Secrecy Disallows trading with the victim player. If trade occurs, pact of Secrecy is broken (with diplomatic repercussions to the offending player)
    • Better breakdown of unit maintenance costs in the Economic Advisor panel (unit by unit costs)
    • Allow City States to hold onto captured cities (instead of auto-razing them)
    • Increase Influence from Gifting Units (ATM, I can gift a unit costing 500 hurry gold, and get a measly 4 influence... WTF?)
    • AI seems to be terrible at defensive wars
    • If The AI loses more units in the first 5 turns of a war, move to defensive positions
    • The AI needs to learn the concept of “reserve forces”. It seems to put every unit at the front, which leaves none for defending if things go sour
    • AI needs to learn how to position and properly defend artillery.
    • City States fall behind in techs late game - perhaps research pacts or techs could be granted to them for extra influence?
    • AI seems too...artificial. Often, 4 or 5 of them will contact you in a turn for exactly the same thing. Some random numbers seem to be needed to curb requests at least for humans
    • City Build Queue Hover for Units should display the additional unit maintenance you have to pay after you’ve trained the unit, just like it already displays the additional gold maintenance.
    • The Game Should Not allow moving to the next turn until all cities have fired on enemy units. (More than once, I’ve been distracted and forgot, until right after I ended my turn and noticed.)
    • Trebuchets should not require iron
    • Cannons should require Iron
    • The AI likes building Harbors too much, even when their city is hooked up to their capital. (25% naval production is useless compared to the 3 maintenance it costs for the building)Harbors should give 50% Naval production - it’s worthless ATM. Maintenance is too high.
    • If A unit movement path is blocked unexpectedly, I’d prefer the unit to stop and ask for new orders than to try and find a path around it, especially since that path is usually stupid
    • Auto-Exploring units should not be allowed to enter neutral city state territory. I have to manually explore now, out of fear of angering city states.
    • Clicking on a unit should show it’s current path
    • AI Should not be embarking units when ranged or naval enemies are nearby
     
  2. Dale

    Dale Deity

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    Greg said to say "thanks and the cheques in the mail".
     
  3. Afforess

    Afforess The White Wizard

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    Your the first poster - I feel so honored. :p
     
  4. CyberTyrant

    CyberTyrant Emperor

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    I actually read the entire thing. You should feel even more honored. :D
     
  5. Dale

    Dale Deity

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    I was flicking through all the other threads having a good laugh when I came across yours. Yours displays rare intelligence and insight on this current first page of the General forum. I applaud you. ;)
     
  6. Afforess

    Afforess The White Wizard

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    And I just reformatted it to make things more visible! ;)

    Thanks though. Sometimes I feel like I'm yelling at a wall.
     
  7. Afforess

    Afforess The White Wizard

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    Wait, Wait - are you saying my review is a decent review?

    Dear Diary, Dale told me something kind today.
     
  8. Dale

    Dale Deity

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    Or everything else on this page is so bad...... :D

    Nah good review, and I actually agree with nearly all of it.
     
  9. Venereus

    Venereus This Is Streamlined!

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    Good review. Thanks for taking the time.
     
  10. GambleFish

    GambleFish Chieftain

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    Well I have to say that I did indeed read the entire review, and I agree with a fair bit of it. Especially on the unbalanced nature of wonders. It might just be me, but Stonehenge seems to be downright ridiculously awesome early game.

    One side note: City States do NOT auto-raze captured cities. They often will, but in my current game as Persia I'm allied with two different city states that have two cities each :D In fact, I even planned for one to take over - I noticed that London was underdefended, so I gifted Edinburgh 3 units and then declared war on London, causing the capitol to fall and Edinburgh to control all of Britain. Awesome! (I'm playing on a true start location map, incidentally.)

    EDIT: Oh yeah, and major props on the list of proposed changes at the end. It doesn't take a genius to critique something, but having some constructive comments is great!
     
  11. Afforess

    Afforess The White Wizard

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    Really? I learned something new. I had a city state capture 4 cities in my game and raze them all...

    I just wish the list was shorter. :sad:
     
  12. krunsh

    krunsh Prince

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    I agree with almost everything.

    You best suggestion:
    I think they've done somethig better than before with the diplomacy, these few changes would make it almost perfect.
     
  13. Cronos

    Cronos Chieftain

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    Good Review, I agree on most points. However I have not seen the AI pillage improvements at the same level you have observed, especially barbarians who seem to be useless in the main. I would also appreciate more Diplomatic options and as you have suggested some tie ins for pacts with the AI's. It would also be handy to be able to gather some intel on which AI's have agreements with each other.

    As its stands I loved world wars between civilizations in previous iterations but sadly in my experience they never seem to materialise here, other than the obligatory dog pile when one civ's military gets obliterated. I would love to see deeper and stronger alliances between nations.
     
  14. killmeplease

    killmeplease Mk Z on Steam

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    for AI tweaking propositions we need a separate topic i think
    ps great review, i've enjoyed it much!
     
  15. Afforess

    Afforess The White Wizard

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    I think we need a separate FORUM... :(
     
  16. ~Bamboo~

    ~Bamboo~ Chieftain

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    I enjoyed your review. I think it was a good decision to review only items in the game, not those left out.

    I'm bored to death with civ5. The turns still take forever too. It has quad core support however, It's only using 18%-24% of all my cores and IT's STILL SLOW.. Why is it only using 18%-24% max when I'm playing?? Sorry I get a little emotional about long turn times. I thought they were gone with civ5.:(

    Hopefully they will make it more entertaining(features) and utilize hardware a little more efficiently in the future. Bugs I can live with. Boredom and long turn times...Yuk.


    Anyways I'm off to try your mod for the first time. I loved RoM. New Dawn looks great!! And, faster turns...wowzers.:goodjob:
     
  17. Thormodr

    Thormodr Servant of Civ Supporter

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    Nice review. ^^

    I agree with what you've said and I like your suggestions on how it could be improved.

    I do think ciV has enormous potential.

    It's a good game now but it will be incredible I think when they iron out the kinks and

    get some better AI. That and when they let the modders access the source code as you mentioned.

    I can't wait to see the mods that come out. :)
     
  18. solidsmooky

    solidsmooky Chieftain

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    Here is my unbiased review:

    Everything stinks.

    Thanks for reading!
     
  19. solidsmooky

    solidsmooky Chieftain

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    PS By everything. I mean everything. Like real life stuff too. Everything sucks, everything is terrible. The world is a vampire.
     
  20. dannythefool

    dannythefool King

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    I agree with all of your points, except the game is way more fun than 60%. Subjective, of course.

    Workers can be set to not replace improvements in an ini file. Not disputing your point though, this should be an option in the game.
     

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