I have played Civilization from Version 1 actually its the first game I owned for my first PC. I am was an avid Panzergeneral + Empire + Strategic Command + Alpha Centauri player. If you know these games I believe you will like Civilization 5 too.
Civilization 5 brings back the actual thinking. The problem of the previous Civilizations was that you could abuse easily the game system, put together a stack of units and go rampage build all wonders and feel great about yourself. It was fun but never hard.
What has changed? You will notice that it takes now considerably longer to build buildings and the maintenance costs are much higher. You will face the problem that you cant anymore build every building in every city as easily. This gets a yeah from me because the cities develop much more naturally than before and you have to choose what to build.
Happiness works all over empire. Its not just a local problem if your population is unhappy its now global problem you cant ignore anymore they are now **** about Ivory and Whale meat etc. and a s good ruler you have to think how to get this stuff.
Best for an old Panzergeneral player. When you fight you have to plan and bring enough units. As others are already complaining its not just as simple bringing the biggest and badest stack of units but you hav to deploy them and even then you will loose some taking a city. For me its the best part of the game actually. Wars are not any longer putting together a badass stack and march over to next enemies city its fight over positions between your kingdoms, computing working crews / settlers , holding hills ambush infantry on plains with your cavalry. Ships are actually useful now too. Surprise ;) Even in your first game the computer adviser tells you that you need now usually up to four units to storm a city . So sadly no rush conquest anymore.
Graphics of the game are clean and fine . Interface works for me. I like the new policy system focusing your civilization in a certain direction.
Some small issues and hopefully they will be addressed in a patch soon.
- diplomacy its kind of to simple. War , peace trade, give some gifts (Neutral states). what I like you cant tech trade (give me wheel I give you pottery) anymore but make research contracts.
- I think there are some game balance issues yet: 1st. The concept of "great people" can be easily abused to get to quickly advances. For example : A science great man can be sacrificed to get a new technology, techs differ greatly in research time. You can easily create a slingshot scenario. Get great people, get techs that others cant reach soon, get wonder which gets you great people rinse repeat.
2nd. Wonders are to cheap. A water wheel costs more than to build a wonder, adds to the problem mentioned above.
3rd. I think its to easy to get a cultural victory you can move to quickly through your social policies.
4th. Some people mentioned that is possible that a unit get multiple free tech upgrades through ancient ruins leading to scenarios that riflemen roam the ancient world. Didnt happen to me up to now but has to be patched if its really possible.
5th Multiplayer well needs some serious work. Stability , the option to turn on animations, Hotseat option
6th. The AI needs some work too: building/using ships, sometimes its a warmonger then a surrender monkey, needs to take more seriously important resources as Iron etc., needs to work on its tactical skills
Some minor quibbles:
-One thing regarding user interface I cant find an option to observe units which move under "auto explore" running around in far away lands. Its kind of hard to find your units again.
- I would like to have some more automatic options. for example for archers and towns to automatically shoot an enemy unit coming into range.
- I would like to have my wonder movies back!!!!
- I would like to see ALL my building on the map or in the city screen
Still overall its for me the best CIV yet. Just get the free DEMO and the free manual, print the keyboard shortcuts (make the game much faster) and have FUN. There are quite alot of things I would love to have been taken care off. Nevertheless its game basics make it for me the best initial CIV release yet and I am looking forward to play friends in an LAN party soon. All and all, wait 2 months before owning this one, when they reintegrate features from Civ 4 such as Religion and fix all the crash bugs. Like old Diablo 2, this game is virtually unplayable without patch 126.96.36.199 and that is just to bring up the gameplay screen.