An expansion worth your time
With a game like Civilization, it’s easy to throw together a slapdash expansion by adding a few new countries, leaders, and Wonders and calling it a day. Anyone really wanting to play as Enrico Dandolo of Venice will be happy and keep playing.
Fortunately, this wasn’t the road that Firaxis took with Civilization V: Brave New World. Instead, the developers went out of their way to bring several fresh new ideas to the franchise that’ll give even the most jaded players a reason to start again.
Don’t get me wrong—Brave New World offers plenty of new countries to command, along with their respective leaders: Assyria, Brazil, Indonesia, Morocco, Poland, Portugal, Shoshone, Venice, and Zulu. You’ll also find eight new Wonders (the Globe Theatre is awesome) and a couple of new scenarios, including the American Civil War.
And yet, all of these things are merely Cracker Jacks surrounding the real prize—an improved cultural system that makes the endgame much more satisfying.
As a franchise, Civilization has always favored the militaristic victory games. These were consistently more interesting and posed a much clearer path to success. Thankfully, that has changed. The key to the improved cultural system is threefold: Tourism, Archeology, and Great Works. Once open, the Archeology path allows you to send explorers around the world to discover items for your museums. This brings with it additional strategies to navigate the diplomatic issues that can arise from these activities.
Combined with Great Works—in which artists, musicians, and writers place their works in your museums and other cultural buildings—it’s now possible to draw tourists into your cities. Tourism is a fantastic path to cultural victory, as it’s possible to not only lure people to your cities but to also influence opposing civilizations. Expand your influence enough, and you win.
As someone who’s played hundreds of simulations like this, I really enjoyed the different cultural routes Brave New World opened up for me. It made a somewhat stale game extremely fresh and actually made me look forward to playing for this review—something I wasn’t initially excited about. And if that were all the new expansion offered, it would’ve been enough.
However, Brave New World contains a few other improvements that really send the experience soaring. The new Trade Routes benefit both diplomacy and conquest paths. From a diplomatic standpoint, it becomes beneficial to play nice and establish trade partners. Not only is it a great way to get rich, but it also solidifies allies for when things turn nasty—which they inevitably will when someone decides your shipping lanes would benefit their strategy. Or, they might just want to disrupt your trade. Either way, it’s always wise to have a decent military to help protect what’s yours.
The final major addition is the World Congress (think the United Nations, but with more power). The World Congress votes on global proposals that can solidify or destroy your hopes of global conquest. They can impose taxes to drain your coffers or provide funding for that new cultural center—and the key to it all is diplomacy. Strong-arm strategy works poorly where the Congress is concerned, so players will have to deftly plan their actions to best take advantage of the Congress’ power.
All of these additions really help the multiplayer game. The added options require more agile thinking, as there are more choices than ever to achieve victory. At the same time, however, the biggest issue with Civ V hasn’t really been addressed—the single-player game still feels uneven and suffers from wonky AI. It isn’t bad enough to bother beginning to intermediate users, but advanced players will still get frustrated, particularly later in the game.
Overall, Civilization V: Brave New World improves the core game and brings it nearly to the level achieved by the still-best-in-class Civ IV. Brave New World offers enough additions to keep fans busy another hundred hours or so as they try out all of the new civilizations and develop fresh strategies.
|Developer: Firaxis Games • Publisher: 2K Games • ESRB: E10+ – Everyone 10 and older • Release Date: 07.09.13|
Civilization V: Brave New World is a stellar addition to an already excellent game that goes beyond the standard additions of new countries and Wonders by including additional game-changing paths to victory. Tourism, Archeology, Great Works, Trade Routes, Ideologies, and a World Congress each open up previously unexplored possibilities. Particularly enhanced is the path to cultural victory, though whichever route you take, you’re sure to find plenty of fresh options to keep you busy.
|The Good||The additions or Tourism and Trade Routes make this a whole new game.|
|The Bad||Though slightly improved, the AI still leaves a lot to be desired.|
|The Ugly||Fighting over Trade Routes can turn grown men into 5-year-olds in about two minutes.|
|Civilization V: Brave New World is a PC exclusive.|