Yesterday it got so bad I played Civilization V while eating breakfast and dinner; I swapped lunch for a few snacks so I could spend more time defending my western coastline against the rising threat of American imperialism. Despite the fact there is still no formal diagnosis of video game addiction within professional medical circles, I'm almost convinced I have a problem.
As I write this, for instance, I can't stop thinking about whether there's a rich, fertile and resource-laden area to the East of my continent. I'm jonesing for some coal right now. Somebody help me - it's digital crack in quasi-historical turn-based form. Okay, I need to check.
No coal. Bugger. I'm probably going to have to end up declaring war on Russia fairly soon, so I need to be prepared. Before you think of me as a crass, warmongering type, do know that I'm only doing it out of self-defence: I'm trying to win by culture right now, but Catherine the Great has gone and got the hump because I ended up building too many World Wonders. I've had to spend a dozen turns building infantry units because I can see her massing up forces along my Northern border.
It's still Civilization, then, giving you leadership over a fledgling nation in 2500BC and charting your progress until you either murder all your foes, get voted as leader of the United Nations, harness so much culture you can build the Utopia Project or just build a spaceship and fly off to Alpha Centauri. Or you can just wait it out until 2050 and win via score, but that's not nearly as jazzy.
Anyway, back to the Northern front. That's a huge new feature, by the way. Civilization V has adopted a hexagonal grid instead of its former squares, and one of the main provisos of the new engine is how you can't plonk more than one unit on any given tile. It is impossible now for an enemy to hide a world-conquering war machine in a single stack of doom; you get to see the armies congregate near your border, and alongside the tactical ramifications there's a certain aesthetical pride derived from having your units spread out far and wide across your magnificent empire. Or somebody else's, for that matter - right before you burn them to the ground.
On that note, Civilization V is also absolutely gorgeous. Maybe not for a hardcore FPS player with two beefy graphics cards running in SLI and more gigs of RAM than some people have hard drive space, but in terms of the art team getting those itty bitty details it's sublime. I often zoom out and spend a few seconds taking it all in, even if it does slow my computer down to a crawl when I own the entire map.