A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
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.
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?
- Platforms: Windows
- Subjects: Math: addition, money, subtraction
Social Studies: cultural understanding, government, power structures
Language & Reading: reading, reading comprehension, vocabulary
- Skills: Self-Direction: academic development
Thinking & Reasoning: analyzing evidence, decision-making, prediction
Creativity: developing novel solutions
Tech Skills: using and applying technology
Responsibility & Ethics: learning from consequences, making wise decisions
- Price: $29.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: 2K Games
- Release date: September 21, 2010
- Genre: Strategy
- ESRB rating: E10+ for Drug Reference, Mild Language, Mild Violence
For kids who love strategy games
Our editors recommend
Top advice and articles
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.