Developer: Firaxis
Platform: Facebook
Release Date: 7/6/11

     Oh, snap. It's finally happened. Ladies and gentlemen, the social media game has just taken a major step toward taking over the world - not just by absorbing all the time you're supposed to be spending doing more important stuff, but actively encouraging you and your friends to take over the planet.
     CivWorld is a Facebook version of Sid Meyers' Civilization, a long-running PC franchise where your goal is to build an empire and take over the world. Now, I'm not a big fan of most Facebook games, since most of them are too busy hawking virtual currencies and making you hold your friends at gunpoint to visit your farm to deliver a decent game. In fact, I'd started to give up hope that a good Facebook game could exist since so few can overcome these problems.

     But suddenly a ray of light emerged from my computer screen, and an angel delivered to me a stone tablet with the URL you see above. Well, maybe that's an exaggeration. But it may as well have happened that way, because CivWorld is a glorious example of casual gaming at its best.
     At its core, CivWorld is a fairly basic strategy game. You control an independent city and can join up with any country you like or found your own. Good organization is key to your success, as your building placement determines how efficient your citizens are. Your goal is to gather points in five categories (food, building, science, money, and culture) and strengthen your civilization. You can have your citizens gather resources by "harvesting" every so often, and science, money, and culture have some pretty fun mini-games you can play to speed up your progress.

     What's unique about Civworld is it's designed to have as much or as little to do as you like. There are individual "games", or worlds, that you can join and leave as you please, and you can play 1-3 simultaneously as your interest in the game allows for. Your progress in one game doesn't carry over to the others, but based on your achievements you get gems and decorations to design yourself a "Throne Room", which is nice.
Ignoring the utter lack of respect for historic and cultural accuracy, I like my throne room.
     I really appreciate how low-key CivWorld is with its marketing. You can access the entire game without inviting a single friend or paying a cent. Rather than arbitrary limitations on what you can do, the motivations to invite people and spend money are subtly built into the game itself. Communication between civilization members is essential to progress quickly, and having a friend around that you can coordinate with makes things a lot easier. On the money side, you can spend CivBucks to speed up your progress if you wish, but there's nothing that requires them or even takes an unreasonable amount of effort to get without them.

     This would normally be the part where I point out what's wrong with the game, but there's really not much that is wrong with it. My only request might be a better tutorial for people who haven't played a Civilization game before, but the game's not that complicated to begin with and figuring it out on your own isn't too tough.

     If you have any interest in social gaming, CivWorld is for you. Heck, even if you can't stand social gaming, I think this will be the one to change your mind on it. It's brilliantly designed, has something for everyone, and is a great way of connecting to your friends beyond a simple "feed my sheep, or else". Thus, I'm awarding it my first ever...

                                                     Score: 10/10!

     Now back by popular demand (I'm taking the complete silence to mean the masses loved and adored it), it's time for the Pro Tip Corner!

 - Your citizens like being placed next to other citizens of the same type, as well as being near water and forests. A happy citizen is a productive citizen, so pay attention to their placement and watch your profits soar!

 - The material that your workers harvest doesn't matter, they all boil down to production points. Iron gives the most points, though.

 - Put people as close as you can to drop-off points. As you unlock new technologies, you'll be able to build new drop-off points. Granaries are Farmer drop-offs and Workers have drop-offs for each material, but Scientists, Merchants and Artists always need a castle or village green.
 - Try to find a space surrounded by water, like the one highlighted here. Plop an orchard on it and prepare to feast.

 - Never neglect the "Dowry" bonus that appears over the globe icon. It means you can visit someone's city - anyone, doesn't have to be a friend -  and get a pretty big bonus for both you and them (so you should probably visit someone in the same civilization).

 - Don't underestimate the power of communication! Pay attention to what other people are saying, and if you've got an idea don't be afraid to put it on the table!

     This has been the Freeware Fanatic, saying I like getting cool stuff for my throne room and all, but is Mme. Curie's Laboratory really something I want nearby? I mean, she worked with Uranium and Radium with no protective measures at all. Even her cookbook is still highly radioactive. Thanks, but I'll pass on that particular decoration.



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