Top Ten of 2010 - Civilization V

The venerable Civilization series continues to refine and move forwards, ideas coming and going, and small but welcome visual upgrades marking each new instalment. I've loved Civ since my Amiga struggled to handle it almost 20 years ago, and while I've always been generally rubbish at it, it nevertheless keeps me enthralled and addicted with its legendary 'One more turn' gameplay, and of course the basic fulfilment of watching my empire grow.

Civilization V is actually very pleasing to look at, with nice effects and animations and a new terrain model that allows features to blend in more seamlessly with one another, giving more of a natural feel to the landscape while still being easy to read. As ever, my main enjoyment of playing these games is just seeing everything expand and improve, dipping into the Civilopedia for a bit of light history now and then. Aside from being a strategy game, Civilization encompasses a few interests of mine (ancient history, culture and the progress of technology), and while obviously only being on a very superficial level it still feels like I'm involved in something fascinating and educational - only the teacher is really cool.

From the changes, without going into boring specific details I'm most happy with the streamlined interface they've evolved from the console outing Revolution, the addition of City-States to mix things up nicely alongside the full-blown civilizations, and the decision to have only one military unit per tile (I always found stacked military units clumsy to deal with). Everything feels... cleaner. It's still incredibly difficult to get anything other than a military victory over the AI on harder difficulties though.

It feels like faint praise when really that's not the way I intend it, but Civ is like a comfy pair of slippers. I find it wonderfully relaxing. Winter especially benefits from a good long session huddled at the PC with snacks and coffee, click-click-clicking those turns away.

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