Alright. Let’s get this story straight. Truth be told, Sid Meier’s Civilization is the kind of game that certainly necessitates more play-through than a barely-awake hour and a half on a red eye to New York by someone who has no prior experience with turn-based strategy games. Fortunately, Civilization is the kind of game that has a large and enthusiastic fanbase of players who can surely detail you with the many triumphs that it accomplishes as a game. But until I talk to one of those guys, this review will be delightfully stunted.

I’ll begin with my first impressions, starting with the menu items. My impressions are that they are great. How often do you get approached with the option to choose between starting your game with “Customize World” (yes please) or “EARTH.” I start my game, and I’m approached with THE choice. I have to choose my tribe. My roots. My blood brothers. I made love to the idea of being a Mongol at first, but ultimately chose to side with the Aztecs, a decision that fatally brought my first game to its dire end.

As an Aztek (named MICKEY!!!, nonetheless), I was approached by a beautifully tanned goddess who promised she’d teach me the ways of irrigation, obtaining raw materials, and road building. Anticipating at least some sort of hand-holding guidance as I made my way into the world, little did I know that the tutorial messages were turned off by default. Thus, in my first baby steps toward world conquest I could only think to wander my tiny settlers piece across the world, in a lonely, 20-minute journey tangled in menus and fruitless turn-based exploration. Eventually I figured out how to finally create my city, MONTEZUMA, which I quickly turned into a democracy, a democracy that I then swiftly determined to rebel against. End of civilization.

Game two, was in fact, slightly more successful.

I knew I couldn’t mess this civilization business up the second time around, so I went with my actual roots and assigned the young and virtuous CHOW to lead the Chinese to victory. This time I putted around with the controls enough to recruit a few men to defend my city of CHINA (I figure that’s a lucky enough name for a civilization, right?) and encountered enough straglers to recruit a decent assembly of men. With their assistance, I met the rulers of both Germany and Russia, who unbeknownst to me were both close neighbors of CHINA.


Frederick, The Ruler and Emperor of Germany, was polite and dressed to the nines. Despite the clear advancements his civilization had made in hairstyles and tailoring, Frederick offered to trade my sages’ knowledge of wheel-making for horse riding, to which I enthusiastically agreed to. Deal done! Then, there was that awkward run-in with Stalin, in which he demanded the same terms as Frederick and things got tense when I told him Frederick was the only man I could trust with that information. Shucks. Despite the increase of action in this second go with civilization, CHINA actually ended up with a lower score than MONTEZUMA. Double shucks.

So that’s it. By the end of the day, I was left with two boring, futile civilizations. With a little more time I’m sure I would’ve had more exciting stories to tell, but, hey, on the bright side, I did learn some valuable lessons. Number one: sometimes you need to read the directions before playing. Number two: stay true and never teach Stalin how to make a wheel. Now go and spread civilization.

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