Sid Meier's Civilization V

Game review by
Chad Sapieha, Common Sense Media
Sid Meier's Civilization V Game Poster Image
Excellent strategy game is educational and accessible.
Popular with kids

Parents say

age 10+
Based on 4 reviews

Kids say

age 10+
Based on 24 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Educational value

Kids can learn about historic events that led to the birth of human civilization and the factors that have governed and altered its growth. As Sid Meier's Civilization progresses, players gain understanding of significant developments in human history and how they led to even greater discoveries, inventions, and social and political advances. Players win by rapidly growing their civilizations in one of these disciplines: science, diplomacy, culture, or military. Players absorb lasting knowledge about the history of the world from the role of an empowered ruler.

Positive messages

This game explores how civilizations come into existence, thrive, and war with one another. It encourages players to experiment with various governments, policies, and ideologies to learn about their advantages and disadvantages as they guide societies toward military, cultural, diplomatic, scientific, or economic victory.

Positive role models & representations

The game features a mix of 18 famous and infamous historical leaders, including George Washington, Queen Elizabeth, Napoleon, and Augustus Caesar. While each leader comes with his or her own tactical bonuses that may lend themselves to a particular way of playing, ruling style is determined solely by the player.

Ease of play

Far and away the most accessible PC-based Civilization game to date, players’ hands are held through every step, with important information automatically popping up on screen and all available actions each turn shown in the bottom right corner. It can still be devilishly difficult on hard settings, but players should experience no trouble learning how to play.

Violence

A wide variety of historical military units -- swordsmen, musketeers, tanks, and bombers -- fight each other from a bird’s-eye view. Faint cries of pain can be heard, and soldiers crumple and disappear when defeated. Nuclear explosions can wipe out entire cities. There is no blood or gore.

Sex
Language
Consumerism
Drinking, drugs & smoking

One of the game’s Civilopedia entries references the opium trade as part of a description of historical economics.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Sid Meier’s Civilization V uses authentic historical elements -- famous leaders, nations, resources, military units -- to simulate non-historical empires. In other words, players can, say, lead Gandhi’s India through millennia of military rule or have Napolean’s France become an empire of diplomacy and science. Though the simulated history is fictional, players can still learn a great deal, not just about real-world figures, concepts, and units, but also how cultural, ideological, and geographical factors can change a world’s geopolitical landscape. Play necessitates the depiction of some violence, but it is presented from a high perspective and is quite mild. While it is the most accessible PC-based Civilization game to date, it is still a deep, complex, and demanding game that could prove frustrating for younger players. Keep in mind, too, that online play supports open text and voice chat. Common Sense Media does not recommend moderation-free online communication for pre-teens.

User Reviews

Adult Written bymikhailk April 19, 2012

Civilization V - incredibly fun, and highly educational

Civilization V is a stunningly enjoyable game which has the potential to inspire people of all ages to learn more about history. Although it does not present a...
Parent Written byeca3101 January 1, 2014

Great game, nothing actually bad too it

The game may have some fighting scenes. But all it is really is the soldiers go to fight, then if one of them gets hit they fall on the ground then just disappe...
Kid, 12 years old November 14, 2010

Awesome, but you'll need a good computer!

Civ 5 is finally here! I played it for a minute and was instantly pulled in! However, being new, it needs a good computer! I would suggest Quad Core Processor o...
Kid, 12 years old October 28, 2010

GREAT

This is probably the best computer game-ever. It's fun, and it can be as easy, or as hard, as you want it to be. You can also make your own map (you have t...

What's it about?

The Civilization franchise is a two-decades-old bastion of strategy gaming bliss in the PC world, and its basics remain firmly intact in Civilization V. Players select an authentic historical leader and begin the game with a single city in a sparsely populated ancient world. As the years flip by, you scout the land, find additional cities, and meet strange new cultures that you can either crush with your armies or befriend as you work toward satisfying diplomatic, cultural, or scientific victory conditions. And it’s all been made more accessible than ever before. A clean, new interface includes bulletins that pop up on the right side of the screen, ensuring you’re always apprised of changes in neighboring countries’ dispositions and aware of vital opportunities. Just below is a dynamic action button that leads you through all available activities, ensuring that you never forget to move a unit or begin production on a new building before ending a turn.

Is it any good?

Civilization V’s changes aren’t limited to simply making things more user-friendly. A new social policy system allows players to mix and match ideologies such as fascism and rationalism for strategic growth in areas like technology and population happiness. And the introduction of city-states that can be used as allies or pawns adds an entirely new element of strategy worthy of significant consideration.

What’s more, Civilization’s battles have never been better. Cities can now defend themselves, which means no more piling them full of soldiers you’d rather have on the front lines. And whereas players once stacked units into massive armies before merrily marching off to war, each unit now occupies its own space on the map, forcing players to strategically line up ranged attackers behind melee units in preparation for sieges. Simply put, it’s tons of fun. This season’s high-profile shooters might steal the spotlight for the moment, but if there’s one game released in 2010 that people will still be playing five years from now, it’s Civilization V.

Online interaction: Multiplayer supports open text and voice chat so players could hear unwanted  and inappropriate communication.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about learning from games. Do you think the Civilization games can potentially teach players more about the world in which they live? Do you think this game can make players better understand how modern geopolitical conflicts occur?

  • Families can also discuss the differences in depicting war from the personal perspective of an individual soldier versus that of a bird’s eye view. Why might the latter be more appropriate and bearable for younger players than the former?

Game details

For kids who love strategy games

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