Civilization VI Review – Another turn, and another turn…

When it comes to strategy games, players tend to gravitate towards a game that absorbs them into its mechanics. A game that allows a supreme level of control, over the development of a city, or an army. In the Civilization series by the legendary Sid Meier, control goes to another level. And in the latest title in the series, Civilization VI becomes a gem of a strategy game that will be played for years to come.

Now that Civilization VI Anthology has been released, the game probably won’t receive a significant update. Thus, we can give a full review to the experience of the game, more than 5 years after its release. Sid Meier’s Civilization VI points to all the aspects of a successful strategy game: complicated but quickly learnable mechanics; unique features that change the dynamics of the game; infinite replayability, and last but not least – fun. After all, we play to have fun, and for those who love strategy games, Civilization VI is a must play.

It’s important to note that this review was done on the PS4 version of the game, but there are slight differences between the console and PC versions. For other reviews on the latest games released, as well as beloved series, keep reading Games Row!

Story

Strategy games are rarely distinguished by their spectacular story, which remains in the player’s memory. Of course, there are countless titles in series such as Starcraft or Age of Empires who have managed to do this. But when it comes to sandbox strategy games, this is much more difficult to achieve. In the case of Civilization VI, which is a 4X game (short for Explore, Expand, Exploit and Exterminate) the story is non-existent. It doesn’t have a proper campaign like the strategy games “of old”, but the game’s story can be created and manipulated as the player wishes. Developing a civilization from its beginnings to the technological age allows each player to experience many memorable moments.

Description of a leader and a civilisation before the start of a match

The conquest of the entire map with Alexander Macedon’s giant army in the 19th century. Establishment of the first colony on Mars, with Gilgamesh at the helm. Creating most of the world’s wonders and having the most tourists in Egypt, alongside Cleopatra. These are just some of my experiences with the game, which can be categorized as stories. But these are basically the story of the game. The experiences you create by playing will become your unique story, which only you can play.

Of course, this is not to everyone’s liking. Many players would prefer a campaign in which they follow a narrative thread in addition to these individual matches. This unfortunately does not exist in Civilization VI. Although different game scenarios are made available to the player, each with different mechanics and rules than the standard ones, they are far from a story. So it’s hard to note the story category in a game like this, but that’s not why it’s played.

Gameplay

Gameplay is by far the crown jewel of Civilization VI. Having a turn-based system as opposed to a classic RTS, the game can absorb the player very easily. I often lied to myself that I would play one more turn, then save and exit, only to surprise myself at the end of 200 turns played and 3 hours later. In English, it’s very sinful this turn-based cycle of the game. But it’s a hell of a lot of fun.

The mechanics of the game are vast and, although at first they seem very overwhelming, with time and practice they become very easy. By the end of my first match of Civilization VI (which admittedly took around 15 hours, as my settings made the match far too long) I had successfully grasped all the game mechanics. Of course, the game also provides the player with an encyclopaedia that contains all the explanations they need. In addition to the civilization building and economy system, which is of course the skeleton of the gameplay, there are many other aspects. Politics, technology, culture, military, a diplomacy system with city states and more.

The development of civilisation in Spain with an emphasis on religion

The player has a choice of 19 civilizations (50 if they have all DLCs) and 20 leaders (54 with all DLCs). Each civilization and leader has unique abilities, units and builds, each with a bias towards a match-winning condition. In order to win a match, the player will need to meet one or more conditions, each representing a type of victory. These types are Domination, Religion, Science, Culture, Score or Diplomacy (this was introduced with the DLC Gathering Storm). Each civilization specializes in one of the winning conditions, but all of them can win a game anyway, if the player knows what he is doing.

DLCs are not mandatory, but welcome

The game’s DLCs have added considerably to the game experience. From governors that can be used to run city states, to secret societies and natural disasters. The new mechanics added by these DLCs transform the game’s gameplay into even more fun. Civilization VI also features a multiplayer mode that can add dozens more hours to the game’s length. Although, given the game’s high degree of replayability, anyone who gets their hands on it will not be short of things to do.

For those who are easily caught up in the world of a turn-based strategy game, they will spend countless hours in Civilization VI. The replayability and uniqueness of each match creates a game that is extremely replayable.

Graphics

When it comes to graphics, Civilization VI won’t wow with its realism, but it will pleasantly surprise. The game’s art direction is pleasing, and the day and night cycles add to the immersion of the game. Also, the construction of a world wonder that remains permanently on the game’s map is always a source of pride for whoever made it. The game’s special effects, mainly combat, leave a little to be desired, as they are a little shallow. Hitting a city or an army of knights with a trebuchet, for example, has the same graphical effect.

Also, when it comes to war, graphically speaking, it leaves the map like a sparrow leaves the branch it rests on – without a mark. Of course, an army can plunder a farm or mine, leaving it burning and destroyed. But when two armies meet on a battlefield, and it remains intact, as if nothing happened, it cuts a bit of the immersion of the game. However, these can be categorized as “nitpicks” rather than mistakes on the game’s graphical plane.

A Roman civilisation at its peak

The animations of the troops and leaders when they deliver a message to you are good. Graphical issues, too, are almost non-existent, with very few instances being when a unit temporarily disappears from the map, appearing in another place on a future turn. The game’s graphics are clean with a nice art style, which is more than enough.At its peak

Sound

In addition to the very good soundtrack, the main theme of the game successfully represents its heart. The sounds of the orchestra accompanied by the angelic voices of the singers seem to give the soul of a civilisation. Also, the various melodies that are heard throughout the game are fitting, they add to the experience. However, when we move from the soundtrack to the actual sound of the game, things are not so good.

The sound accompanied by special effects is jerky and muffled. Also, although the narrator’s dialogue is narrated by Sean Bean, who has a splendid voice for this sort of thing, it sounds very muffled. Thus, the clarity of sound as well as dialogue suffers enormously in this game. In the first instance I thought this was problematic on my part, the sound of the TV perhaps being to blame. However, the game was tested on an audio system as well as on a pair of headphones and the result was the same.

The different branches of technology the player can choose from

Unfortunately, the sound of the game clearly leaves something to be desired for reasons that are hard to understand. If the sound clarity was better, there would be very little to criticize about the game’s sound. Dialogue is good, appropriate for each leader and civilization, and Sean Bean does an excellent job narrating the various passages in the game. The special effects however provide a sense of “cacophony” with each building built and battle fought.

Atmosphere

The atmosphere of the game is exactly what you can imagine from a strategy game. The peace of mind when you have to decide what to do next. The turmoil and frustration when a civilization you’ve lived with for most of the game declares war on you. The pride when the game’s victory cutscene plays, or the anger when the defeat cutscene takes its place. Civilization VI’s atmosphere successfully captures all of these feelings, often all felt consecutively during a single match.

The Hanging Gardens of Babylon in all their glory

You won’t encounter tense or dramatic moments like in other action titles, but the atmosphere of the game is exactly what you expect it to be. Quiet, at times complex, but very fitting for this game and this genre.

Conclusion

Sid Meier’s Civilization VI is certainly the best title in the series. The addictive gameplay and enjoyable atmosphere of the game offers a memorable experience to all strategy lovers, mainly turn-based ones. Although the experience vanilla of the game is great, I also highly recommend purchasing the DLCs. Now with the release of Civilization VI Anthology, everyone can feel the full experience of the title. If it weren’t for the issues in the sound and special effects area, this game could have easily moved into our shady rating category. Nonetheless, Civilization VI remains as complete and entertaining a strategy game as can be. So much fun that I’ve already racked up 120 hours on it and haven’t even finished half of what it has to offer.

Our criteria at Games Row for rating games are as objective as can be. Of course, reviews are influenced (also) by personal experiences. So our ratings may not meet everyone’s expectations.

Our criteria at Games Row for rating games are as objective as can be. Of course, reviews are influenced (also) by personal experiences. So our ratings may not meet everyone’s expectations.

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