To be honest i didnt know what to expect from Civilization 5 because i never played one prior to this. The first time i turned the game on I just dove right in...not exactly the best thing to do when you are new to the series. After some stumbling around I finaly got the feel for the game, which to my surprise was not as hard as I thought it was going to be. Even on the normal setting and no prior knowledge of how the game works it will pretty much hold your hand till you have at least experience all the more "common" tasks once. The game is beautiful. Everything from the terrain to the units and the cities has a high level of detail. Even when i set the visual settings for the game at the lowest setting everything still looked really good. The first game I played was a pretty average size game and my pc handled it just fine and even with a few big games I didnt experience any problems. But this game is not meant to be played on just an average PC. You can get away with it if you dont go for oversized games and keep things small. I had a friend run Civ 5 on his run-of-the-mill PC and you could tell the game was pushing the pc harder than it wanted with a medium map with about 7 other players on it.
The game alows for great customization. I have proabaly gone through the game close to 15 times and not a single game is even close to the any previous play through and I could still play through 100 more times and have a unique game everytime. The gameplay is turn based and can get a bit dull in the frist half hour of play. But it doesn't take long for things to start picking up and for you get your thirst for expansion. The AI in the game is hyper agressive if you play on normal or hard difficulty. There where times when some leaders already had 5 citites while i was still trying to make a 3rd. Luckly you dont have to be the biggest civilzation inorder to win and that is one of the things I really like about this game. There are several different ways you can "beat" the game or you can just choose to turn off all the "wins" for the game and just free play.
There are a few things that bothered me in the game that i couldnt seem to find ways around. When I played through the frist few times I went guns ho and was always at war. Than when I decided to actualy try to be diplomatic about it and make allies I noticed that things where a bit odd. At frist everyone is eager to be your friend and you don't find it hard to keep them happy. As the game progressed on though for no reason at all people would denounce me. I can understand Napoleon going to war with me because well he is Napoleon but once I made peace with him the whole world turned against me. Players that had been my ally since I started the game where denouncing me and it felt like they where trying to bottle me up. Im guessing thats how they made the game, so it would force you to just say 'screw it you want to dislike me let me give you a reason to dislike me' and go on a conquest for world domination...who knows maybe its just me. Another thing that sorta nags on you is the little cut scene animation of people denouncing your or talking to you for any reason. At the begining its not too bad because you can not do much else other than go to war, but once you start being able to open your borders or make research agreements things start getting out of hand. If you are running a huge game and have most of the leaders on the map you get to a point to where everytime you go to a new turn you have to click out of more and more converstations and it gets dreary after the first 9 or 10 times.
Over all I really like this game and its a game that will keep me coming back for more. It looks wonderful and the sounds are well balanced. It can be a bit of a handful for some computers if they are running at the minium system requirments and i wouldnt reccomend playing it for extended periods of time (remeber Save Save Save). The customization is almost limit less and its very easy to set the game up so it plays just the way you want it to. Really the only reason I can see that you would stop playing Civilzation V is because Civilzation VI came out.