Civilization V for the Mac: a review

Civilization V, the love it or hate it strategy game from Firaxis, arrived on Mac OS X on November 23, 2010.  Originally releasing for PC in September 2010, Civilization is a turn-based strategy game in which each player takes on the role of the leader of one of 18 different civilizations.  From the Americans to the Aztecs, each civilizations goal is to grow their nations through the eras, from ancient to modern.  Civilization has you controlling just about every aspect of your nation, including city production, technology research, social policy adoption, to diplomacy with other nations.  The goal is to build your civilization towards one of several different types of victories; domination (destroying all enemy capital cities), science (building a space ship and launching into space), culture (building a Utopia through social policy), and diplomacy (starting and leading the United Nations). If it’s not clear already lets say this now; there is ALOT to digest in Civilization V. Despite an excellent tutorial system designed for new users, you will likely be overwhelmed if this is your first civilization experience.

What’s MacGasmic

A breakdown of the Rome Civilization with history and perks.

It’s always reassuring to see a game release on the Mac simultaneously or a few months after its PC release.  While most Mac users don’t buy their computers for the games, its nice to know the Mac is being considered by game developers.  For the most part, Civilization on the Mac plays the same as its PC counterpart with a few issues that we’ll discuss in a later section.

For Civilization fans, you should already know what you’re getting into. If you’ve enjoyed previous Civilization games, you’ll be right at home with this version for the Mac.  An addictive experience, with nearly limitless customization options, a sense of complete control over your civilization, and plenty of new features to justify the jump from Civilization IV.

What’s Not

The decision to give Civilization V a try should start with a tour of the system requirements.

Minimum Requirements

  • How Civ5 looks on my minimum requirement MacBook Pro

    Operating System: 10.6.4 (Snow Leopard)

  • CPU Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo (Dual-Core)
  • CPU Speed: 2.4 GHz
  • Memory: 2 GB RAM
  • Hard Disk Space: 8 GB
  • Video Card (ATI): Radeon HD2600
  • Video Card (NVidia): Geforce 8600
  • Video Memory (VRam): 256 MB
  • Media Required: DVD-ROM

Recommended Mac System Requirements

  • CPU Processor: Intel Quad Core
  • CPU Speed: 2.6 GHz
  • Memory: 4 GB RAM
  • Video Memory (VRam): 512MB
The social policy tree that eventually leads to Utopia

Take note of the Snow Leopard requirement and specs that even a MacBook Pro purchased in 2010 won’t meet.  If you’re not sure what you’ve got under the hood, click the Apple icon in your menu bar, then About this Mac.  You can note the Processor speed and type, and memory from this screen.  Click More Info then Graphics/Displays and you’ll see the video card and VRAM in your system.  For comparison sake, I’m running a MacBook Pro purchased in February 2010 with 2.26 Ghx, 4GB of Ram and a NVIDIA GeForce 9400M with 256 MB of VRam.  I don’t even meet the minimum.  Despite this, Civilization V still runs on my Mac on the lowest graphics settings.  The gameplay can get choppy as the map builds, but overall it’s still playable.

There’s also an issue with local multiplayer that wouldn’t allow us to connect two Macs on the same network.  It looks like this is an issue with the PC version as well.  I was also unable to test the internet multiplayer as it nearly requires a convention to organize a match and an entire day to declare a winner.

Final Thoughts

The strategic city map where you control production and research

I’ve always been a fan of strategy games (my family nearly disowns each other during our holiday games of Risk).  I remember playing the older Civilization games as a kid and was anxious to bring back some nostalgia with Civilization V for the Mac.  Unfortunately for me, there’s just too much time and cash required (a new 27 inch quad core iMac would be pretty sweet though) to really enjoy Civilization V.   I found myself playing for an hour, then starting over to bring the game back into the comfort zone for my system requirements, and try a new civilization.   With that being said, I completely understand how so many people are enthralled in this game, and with a fancy new Mac, I could see myself falling down that path.  There’s just something unavoidably exciting about taking a civilization from its infancy and paving your way to world domination. Or maybe that’s just me.

If you’ve got the time, and a fancy new Mac, I would certainly recommend Civilization V.

Matt is an certified Apple tech who help people get the most out of their #Mac, #iPhone, or #iPad through his company MacAnswers. You can follow Matt (@scobes) or MacAnswers (@MacAnswers) on Twitter.