Civalization has come - Civ5, a Linux review.


Civilization 5 is fast becoming one of my favourite games. I’ve had it for ages now and its  been a really slow burner. I started off playing it once a month or so, then slowly as I became more familiar with its mechanics it went to once a week, and then it became an almost daily obsession. I really like the game.

Being someone who uses Linux for almost everything it was a chore rebooting for the game regularly so you can imagine my joy when the Linux Version (SteamOS) appeared the other day. Now, Civ5 for linux is not without its flaws but its still a damned sight better than rebooting.


What Works? It’s always best to start on a positive note with these things so let me outline what works well before I get onto my gripes.

Load times: The game loads substantially faster on Linux than it does on windows. Everything from getting into the menu to loading into a game is faster. Quite a bit faster (for me at least, your experience may differ)

Graphics: The game, obviously is not being rendered in DirectX, instead its using OpenGL as a renderer. The result is a slightly less effect filled experience.  oddly though in my opinion at lest this is not noticable unless your doing 1:1 comparisons if anything the game looks a little cleaner.

Controls: Yeah, you use your mouse, there’s literally nothing to go wrong here, its not like we are importing xbox pad profiles (I’m looking at your Metro: last light) Its as responsive and easy to interface with as the windows version.

General Port: Considering this is a 3rd party port (Aspyr) its pretty great. given the issues the Witcher 2 port has had (with its wrappers and voodoo) Civ5 sets teh bar pretty high for future games coming over to the platform. it honestly is a real native application now and the performance reflects this.  REALLY great work!


What Doesn’t work: Now I have the unfortunate task of de-constructing the complements I just  gave It.

Load Times: Given how fast the game loads I find the fact that I’m forced to watch an company logo video every time pretty frustrating those little videos take longer to watch than the game does to load and its just silly. it really grinds my gears.

Graphics: OpenGL does wonderful things, just look at the windows version of Id Software’s Rage. entirely OpenGL, gosh darn wonderful looking. with this in mind I’m forced to wonder why we have lost a few subtle effects on the game and why my mouse cursor is not animated in the Linux version. Minor points but still, come on dudes!

Controls: That animated mouse cursor I mentioned earlier (literally in the last point) would be great to help spot my cursor when the game is in full swing. again minor but still a point to raise.

General Port: The port is really great one of the best third party ports I have ever seen however why did we need a third party to do this? a first party port would have been far more polished on release. But, the company that created the port did do a great job.  I shouldn’t moan too much. There are issues though. Some DLC is still buggy and the expectiation is that new DLC will not work on day of release as it will have to be rebuilt for Linux. When you try to load the game on a multi-monitor set-up it can often fail to launch. in Gnome 3 if your primary monitor is not the left most one then the game does not launch at all.

The Final thoughts: Granted, there are some issues with Civ5 for Linux but they are forgiveable  issues that don’t break the game in any way. its a port and it fills me with hope for the future of Linux gaming as advertised by Valve.  It’s damn near almost perfect. In fact, as soon as CS:GO turns up on my platform I’ll only need windows for Diablo3, and even then I could get that setup in Wine if i really wanted to.

Tested On:  I have tested this game on an I5 running Arch Linux updated to 16th of June 2014. I have played it from Gnome3.12 and XFCE4. My Graphics card is a Gigabyte branded 750ti (2GB) and i run the proprietary drivers.

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