It's super addictive. I bought Civ IV on the cheap once, and booted it up once or twice, but it just seemed impenetrable, and I never managed to work up the desire to get in and figure it all out. Before long it was known that Civ V would be coming out, and not only did it look a lot nicer graphically, but it was being touted as simplified, more tactical, more user-friendly, and just in general re-tooled to be a sleeker, purer experience than the games before it, which had seemingly evolved and become convoluted over time. I decided I'd wait on V to come out before jumping in.
I'm pretty happy with that decision, with what I know now (and continue to figure out little by little). First off, the game is pretty nice looking. It actually seems to tax my GPU (the weakest link in my system) more than I'd expected. I'm having to play in DX9 to get rid of screen tear, get rid of other odd graphical glitches, and get FPS I want, but that may just be a quirk of my 4850, as Far Cry 2 looked messed the hell up in DX10, also. Another facet of Civ V I like is that military units can are one to a tile. Apparently in prior games you could stack units on a tile and move gigantic forces around that way. I prefer the more "tactics" style of having a large force occupy a large area, which makes sieges and warfare in general a lot more interesting. Lastly, in comparison to what I've seen of Civ IV and Civ Rev, I overwhelmingly prefer the interface of Civ V. Tooltips are helpful, the layout is pretty intuitive, and artistically it is just gorgeous in a early 1900's, Chrysler Building sort of way. Maybe that just strikes me, as an American, as a perfect motif for advancement of civilization. I was wondering in the car today if someone from India or Japan playing the same game would get the same feeling from the UI, and I kind of doubt it. It would be interesting to see what sort of UI the game would ship with were it developed in another country and culture.
As for actually playing the game, I went through the tutorial first, which just puts you on a small Pangaea style map versus one opponent to teach you the basics. I was randomly rolled as Babylon and put up against Aztec. I wrapped that game up in 144 turns just by taking Montezuma's capital, and then began my first real game as Japan (Oda Nobunaga), because I wanted to dominate using Samurai and Bushido (which is a trait in game that makes wounded units fight just as hard as units at full strength). That game I ended up winning by points after 500 turns. I want to mention here that I think cutting the game off at an arbitrary limit based on time, and determining a winner based on an equally arbitrary score system seems like bullshit. I lost my next game as Babylon (Nebuchadnezzar) in which I was trying for a science victory, because at the 500 turn mark I was low on points due to some mismanagement and bad decisions in early eras.
From now on, I'm turning off the time/score victory condition, and shit will be settled the real ways, i.e. Domination, Diplomacy, Science or Culture. You either bully, cajole, research, or shmooze your way to success in real life, and that's how it's going to be in my Civ games, by George. I just love the fact that I have the option to do that.
Speaking of options, this game has a million different settings you can play with for setting up games, from the number of opponents all the way to the age of the world you are playing on (3,4, or 5 billion years), and everything in between. It is addictive as hell.
I'm currently set on achieving a Science victory by being the first civilization to build a space ship and launch a colonization effort. I'm going to play Babylon until it happens, because they're the only civ in the game that has an innate bonus that relates to science and tech upgrades, which I need to happen as soon as possible. The question is what else to stress in management of my civ from the ancient era up to the future era. Based on my experience in my last failed game, I'm going to de-emphasize military for the most part, and focus on making money and getting the most out of my lands in terms of resources to help the science initiative. I fucked up bad last game by losing units early to barbarians, and then later again in an ill-fated attempt to war on Montezuma at the request of Washington. I've been impatient all day today to get home and have another go.
Otherwise, I've been playing a little Demon's Souls the past couple of weeks, trying to get back into that. I'm working on 4-2 and trying to level my guy up a little bit. I got my first experience as a black phantom recently, and that was pretty enjoyable. I think I need to finish the game at least once to be competitive in real pvp, though. And, in what has become a weekend ritual, I've been playing more League of Legends after recording the podcast, and at other random times throughout the week. I'm still learning my character of choice, but I think I've improved considerably from when I began. I've got much further to go, however.