Civilization V 3-Years Later ReviewGuest_Jim_* -
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The purpose of Civilization V is to build a civilization that will stand the test of time. That is a somewhat nonspecific goal, as standing the test of time can be achieved many ways, so there are multiple ways to achieve victory in the game.
The most straightforward is the Domination victory, which requires you to be the last civilization still in control of their original capital. At least that is the case until the Brave New World expansion, which then required you capture every original capital to win this way. Either way, we are talking about military conquest.
If you would rather work for a less destructive end, then you can go for one of the other four victories. The easiest of these is probably the Time victory, which only requires your civilization to be the most powerful by a certain in-game time, typically the year 2050.
The Science victory, naturally, requires you focus on researching technologies. Eventually you will unlock the Apollo Program and the components you need to build a spacecraft. Once built, these parts can be assembled at your capital, and the whole thing will lift off, cementing your success in the stars.
The Diplomatic victory is achieved by getting a United Nations vote to pronounce you the world leader. Being the person to build the United Nations wonder helps as you receive additional votes, but it is also important to have made allegiances with other civilizations and city-states. These conditions have been slightly changed in the Brave New World expansion, as a minimum number of votes must be achieved at the World Congress, which replaces the United Nations.
Cultural victory was originally a somewhat involved victory. It required building the Utopia Project wonder, which is only available after completing five domains of social policies. That can require a significant number of culture points, but is certainly doable. Brave New World again changed this victory type, but in a more dramatic way than the others. That expansion adds a Tourism mechanic and this victory requires your civilization's culture to achieve 'Influential' status with all others. As the other civilizations are trying for the same thing, that may not be as easy as it sounds.
Five means of victory exist, but only one is needed. That does not mean you should just focus on one, as the other civilizations are also trying to win (though at lower difficulties, they really do not stand much of a chance). Be flexible so that you can grasp victory no matter the turn of events. Once you win though, the game need not end. You can press the 'Wait! Just… one… more… turn…' button and continue playing. There is actually an achievement for scoring all five victories, but, in my experience, there appears to be a bug with this. The Science victory apparently cannot be achieved after another victory, for some reason.
Not completely sure what kind of concluding critical opinion I can give this section. The different victories make sense to have and are challenging to achieve, but not overly difficult. Provided you are aware of them as you play, it should not be very difficult to keep driving towards one or many of them. This is definitely a good thing, as at least I find the enjoyable experience of the game being the development of the civilization, and not the final victory. That just means it is time to start another match.