Sid Meier's Civilization: Beyond Earth
Top Critic Average
Civilization: Beyond Earth is my game of the year for 2014
Passive AI and lackluster online support from the community isn't enough to make Civilization: Beyond Earth a total wash. If you've enjoyed the series over the years, you'll likely spend many hours with this entry as well. It deviates just enough from the excellent Civilization V to be a worthwhile experience, and it offers a different pace than its predecessor, so even though it's not a significant upgrade, it's still pretty remarkable.
Civilization takes to the stars, and lands right among them to deliver the greatest strategy game experience in years.
Civilization: Beyond Earth is decidedly deserving of carrying the weight of the franchise in a new direction, but it's simply lacking enough variety for it to become the new standard bearer.
I've found Beyond Earth to be the Civ-equivalent of reading a John Grisham novel: you know it's not really the best of its kind, but at the same time it is quite more-ish. It's just as compelling and "one more turn"-ish as the others in the series. For these reasons, and the fact that I had a straight-out great time playing it, Beyond Earth gets the thumbs-up from me.
Aims for the stars and reaches them
The new Civilization game gives you more of what you expect from the franchise without much to blow your socks off.
Civilization: Beyond Earth shakes up the turn-based strategy formula, taking the series to new heights and new locations. The past experiences of the team at Firaxis with Alpha Centuri shine through, blending both styles of games into one of the best strategy games of the year.
Beyond Earth grasps its topic less firmly, but more fully, insisting that whatever future comes to pass won't be the only future that might have been. Truth be told, though, Beyond Earth likely won't have quite the staying power of either Alpha Centauri or Civilization V.
It's funny, there's a lot about Beyond Earth that I'm not too sure about and a fair number of mechanics that could be better. Yet it's incredibly playable and just as addictive as every other Civilization game. It's incredibly easy to lose a lot of time while playing, which is a testament to how the game can really get the player involved. It's ever-present that the game has a tendency to force the player down a certain path, lacking the overall freedom of something like Europa Universalis IV. Yet when the path is as beautiful, thoughtful and fun as Beyond Earth, it's not exactly a challenge to walk that path over and over again. It does indeed feel like a reskin of Civilization V, but it's a skin that the game wears quite well.