Review: Civilization V: The Complete Edition

Developer: Firaxis Games | Year: 2010 | List Price: $39.99 | Buy from Amazon

Wine-1-5-17-Fixes-Civilization-V-Adds-Font-Anti-aliasing-2Back in 2008, when I was but a wee lad of 10, I begged my mum at a Walmart to get me a DS game that had Napoleon, Cleopatra, and Genghis Khan on its cover. I’d enjoyed Age of Empires: The Age of Kings for a while, and I thought Civilization Revolution would be the same. It was actually pretty different, and because I didn’t really understand it, I didn’t play it much at first. But after playing it more and more a couple years later, I began to learn how to play and it still actually ranks among my favourite strategy games.

I had a similar experience with Civilization V. I tried it almost two years ago, playing a couple of matches before deciding I still preferred the faster gameplay of Civilization Revolution. Last week, though, I got the Complete Edition bundle when it was on sale, and boy oh boy! have I forgotten how good Civilization is! In the past three nights, I’ve played three games over 16 hours, playing as the Spanish, the Hawaiians, then the Inca, and winning twice (Cultural and Domination). I’ve by no means touched everything the game has to offer, but I feel qualified to give a decent impression of how I think the game is. Note: The only other Civilization game I’ve played extensively is Civilization Revolution, so I can’t really compare Civilization V to earlier PC titles.
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Review: Fire Emblem Awakening

Developer: Intelligent Systems | Year: 2013 | List Price: $39.99 | Buy from Amazon 

PS_3DS_FireEmblemAwakening_enGBI never intended to play Fire Emblem Awakening. However, after being pestered by Baobab to give this game a try, we made a deal that I would play Fire Emblem Awakening if he watched the anime series Toradora! (which, by the way, is one of my favourite anime series of all time). Unlike Baobab, who hated watching Toradora! with a passion, I do not regret fulfilling my part of the deal. Fire Emblem Awakening is undeniably one of the best games available on 3DS. Having never played another Fire Emblem game, I cannot say how it compares to it’s predecessors, but I can say that this is one special game. Continue reading

Review: Age of Empires II: Gold Edition

Developer: Ensemble Studios | Year: 1999 | List Price: $9.99 | Buy from Amazon

I just recently re-took interest in this game, as it was one of the games I enjoyed most not too long ago. I did a review on Age of Empires III a little while ago, and I actually got that game before Age of Empires II, so I’ll use that for an excuse for this long-overdue review.

I think I should say before I start that I own the Mac port for the game, but I don’t think there are any differences between versions. (As a side note, if you have Lion, you can’t actually play Age of Empires II on Mac anymore, at least not without some tinkering, as it is a PowerPC application which Apple no longer supports.) Regardless of the platform, Age of Empires II is a significant milestone of the real-time strategy genre. The Age of Empires franchise was actually the first historical RTS franchise and is probably the most well-known.

Age of Empires II continues where Age fo Empires left off, at the fall of the western Roman empire. You begin the game with a small settlement with a few villagers and almost no technology. As your town grows, you can research new technologies and develop your armies. The ultimate goal is to vanquish your enemies on the battlefield and be the only tribe left on the map.

There are many civilisations to lead to victory. The 13 Middle Age civilsations include the likes of the Britons, Goths, Saracens, and Mongols. Unfortunately, unlike later games, there isn’t really much difference between civilisations: They have only slightly different sets of units, and each has only one unique unit. There are also many campaigns to play. Not including the learning campaign, there are 5 different campaigns, all separate from each other and with different difficulty levels.

The game actually has an extremely deep strategy system, even when compared to more modern titles. There are formations for your troops to assume, four different resources to stockplile, even features which the newer Age of Empires III does not have, such as a primitive diplomacy system with trading ships and carts.

There is also an expansion pack called the Conquerors, which adds 5 new civilisations, 4  new campaigns, and a whole host of new units, technologies and maps. This in itself is not really so revolutionary, but there are also new features that make the gameplay smoother and easier, such as smarter villagers, buying replacement farms in advance, and some general UI improvements. The expansion pack really adds a lot to the game, and fortunately nowadays it is usually bundled in.

Obviously where this game loses out in our time is in graphics. At 13 years old, Age of Empires II is not exactly a new game, and this is rather apparent. On newer, larger screens, the game is extremely dotty and animations seem awkward and cheesy sometimes. Of course, this could be a good thing, too, as you no longer have to worry if you have adequate system requirements and the game never freezes or jumps. If you are younger, or just new to video games of this type, this may not be a good entry, as newer games are often simpler and more logical, and have more well-defined graphics.

Game length could also present an issue to some. When compared against other strategy games, games are actually rather short, but modern casual games have made the general population more impatient with their games, and while Age of Empires III has games lasting about half-an-hour to an hour, Age of Empires II easily doubles that.

So basically, if you are looking for a good RTS to just try out, this may not be the first choice, but if you are experienced in the genre and determined to suffer through out-dated graphics, then this game is an extremely nice piece of RTS history, at a price reasonably lower than you would get for a more modern game.

List Price: $9.99 | Buy from Amazon

What do you think? Do you play Age of Empires II? Tell us in the comments!

Also, be sure to check out the rest of our videogame-related reviews and articles!

Review: Battle Nations

I was introduced to Z2 Live by way of Trade Nations back at the end of 2010. I really enjoyed the game, but after I got past a certain point, it just started to get boring. The tedious checking on crops and running of shops had no real goal, and I haven’t played for over a year.

But when I saw a classmate playing something resembling Trade Nations, I asked him what it was and decided to have a try. I had heard of Battle Nations before, but never looked into it. The first thing that strikes you is the deep story involved. Unlike Trade Nations, where you were a lone city in an empty meadow, Battle Nations has a proper setting with likeable characters. The unavoidable tedium of a city-building game is softened by the humour of the people involved in those tasks.

However, the main element that sets this game apart from other city-builiding games is the combat. While it is rather simplistic combat, it provides an incentive to get to the next level so you can get different types of troops to raid your friends with. The time-management of your troops also brings another element of strategy into the mix, albeit a rather annoying one.

You can always buy nanopods to speed things up, but I think that not only takes the strategy game for themselves, it messes up the game for everyone else. I’m sure this will never be changed, as the makers of the game have no doubt skewed the stats on purpose to make money, but it really is frustrating. The more and more I play Head-to-Head battles with random opponents, the more I notice how uneven the game really is.

But in the grand scheme of things, that doesn’t seem to matter much. The Friend system is great, in my opinion, and now even better with the new Assistance system released a few days ago. Since I’m only at Level 17 and a free player, I can’t cover the whole game, but what I can tell you is that the game gives you quite a bit of fun for no money at all, and (if you feel like ruining the game for others) you can always pay for more stuff to do and to speed up the game.

So check it out on the App Store. You can visit Z2Live’s website here and the forums (with lots of tips and tricks) here. What do you think of the game? Tell us in the comments!