Publisher: 2K Games
Developer: Firaxis Games
ESRB rating: Not rated
Release date: Available Now
Review by: Michael Rabalais
When I told my friends I had been assigned to review the Civilization Facebook game, their reaction was to laugh in my face. Social games aren’t especially well received by the hardcore gamer community, and after wiping the tears from my still wet eyes, I promised myself I would remain resolute in providing an objective and thorough review of a product I had never envisioned myself playing. Civilization World is a game I played on Facebook. It doesn’t get much more objective than that.
The biggest divide between CivWorld and a standard Civilization game is its social focus. Whereas a standard Civilization game would have you side with a civilization, such as the Egyptians or the Romans, CivWorld puts you in control of a single city and its output. At any point you can choose to join or leave a nation, though you can stay independent throughout the campaign should you feel so inclined. Imagine it as dedicated micromanagement in a larger Civ game. Players oversee the production of several exports, including food (used to increase population), production (used to build structures), culture (used to create famous generals or philosophers and the like), gold (used in a social marketplace) or science (used to advance technology). At any point you can change real money into CivBucks, which can be used to purchase these production elements piecemeal.
This is where the game’s social trappings set it apart. Any gold, science or culture you manufacture is added to a communal bank for your civilization. Achieving any major task, such as inventing writing or literacy, becomes a task for your entire civilization. Any food or production you acquire will benefit your city directly. Alongside these basic social interactions are more in-depth minigames to further increase your country’s gain. These can range from puzzle solving games, to mazes with a limited number of moves.
I actually found myself really impressed with CivWorld’s social aspects. While making teams out of each civilization may seem like an obvious design decision, it’s a well thought out and implemented one. I felt proud of my civilization, the Chinese, as we steamrolled the African League during prehistory. I checked in on my country’s stats with bated breath, hoping we had maintained our lead. If nothing else, CivWorld will get you invested in your team. When my civ’s leader assigned me the position of cultural minister for a brief period, I felt truly driven to achieve on China’s behalf. It certainly isn’t what I expected.
Unfortunately, making a social Civilization comes with its fair share of faults. Calling a Civ game slow is an understatement, and CivWorld is no exception. I found fault with the game’s pacing. Because I have important things to do I was never at my computer to see major events play out. I never saw an era change, or a big technology developed. As a result, I never felt especially satisfied by any of my achievements in game. I couldn’t gauge my individual contribution to any cause. When games like Farmville show you tangible rewards within hours of playing, it’s tough to justify playing a game like CivWorld that denies you that very basic pleasure.
It’s definitely easy to be cynical about Facebook games. Zynga has made some less than PR friendly statements about their business practices, and the rate at which microtransactions are presented can be a real drag. Despite all that, CivWorld is surprisingly fun, if not a little unfulfilling at times. Also, it’s free to play. Giving it a shot will only cost you your dignity.