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Brave New World, the second and final expansion pack for Sid Meier's Civilization V, polishes the title's deep, turn-based strategy gameplay with a gazillion small but satisfying new tweaks and improvements. These myriad enhancements provide a number of new ways to do the one thing that all players do every time they boot the game up: Try to take over the world.
As with the previous expansion pack, Gods & Kings, Brave New World comes with a handful of new units like Caravans and Trade Ships to help bolster your economy, plus a small cadre of new civilizations with inciting perks and special units to play as or strive against. When employing a strategy that leads to a military or science victory, you'll scarcely notice any difference in gameplay between what Civilization V already has to offer and what the Brave New World brings to the table. But spend some time tinkering with Brave New World's new cultural and political mechanics and it becomes clear that the expansion offers far more than a few new units to build and leaders to play.
Before Brave New World, culture was prevalent in Civilization V, but it was mostly used as a means to gain territory; the more culture a city produced, the more territory it could hold sway over. Now it's possible to win via Cultural Victory by gaining the admiration of other civilizations and city-states through the creation of great works of art, music, and books. Additionally, Brave New World's new political additions, like the World Congress, can play a large part in winning such a victory or stymying the goals of opposing A.I. or human players. Each player is allowed to vote on endeavors that can aid or hinder his or her fellows, making for even deeper gameplay in a title that already hosts a myriad of ways to play and win.
Unfortunately, players don't have a chance to get into these gameplay options until relatively late in the game, and once they do, there's scant direction on how to apply the new strategies on offer. This would be a legitimate complaint if we were talking about a standalone game, not expansion content, so we're willing to welcome these late-game changes with open arms.
The bottom line. Brave New World adds extra polish and intriguing options to the strategy favorite. Fans needn't hesitate to explore this excellent fresh terrain.
Civilization V; Mac OS X 10.7 or later, 2.4GHz Intel processor, 2GB RAM, 512MB GPU
Offers a number of new units and civilizations to play. Provides the ability to win games through a Cultural Victory and political intrigue. Adds even higher level of polish to an already outstanding strategy game.
Changes to gameplay happen largely later in the game. Few instructions on how to implement new play mechanics.