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Civilization VI – One does not simply… narrate a game

Content of the article: "Civilization VI – One does not simply… narrate a game"

The first time I tried to get into it, I had a hard time getting on board with some of the major changes. Not necessarily because of any concrete opinion or objective feedback, instead it's more like growing up driving on the right side of the road and then suddenly being required to drive on the left – I just kept bumping up against things, it felt generally uncomfortable. Hundreds of hours in Civ V gave me a kind of muscle memory.

Well, I picked it back up over the weekend, and things went much better. I had a sense of what I was getting into, and this time I played on Civ VI's terms. My overall review is that I'm quite tired from repeatedly staying up too late playing it.

The thing I want to talk about, though, is Sean Bean's narration. It isn't the worst thing in the world (looking out the window), but I'm going to lean on hyperbole here, so hold on tight. It's the worst.

Most Americans are probably aware of the "smart British person" trope. Well I'm here to say that Sean Bean is evidence that not all Brits sound smart. I am no expert, but I'm pretty sure Bean's specific flavor of accent is Sheffield, which does not exactly connote a learned scholar. This superficial and stereotypical view is tough to shake on the 99th time he tells you that "yoo haff gone fah".

Bean may have trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, and performed with the Royal Shakespeare Company, but that doesn't come across in his reading. Rather, he comes across as a man at a pub reading the regional history off a coaster. He is effective in reading the words aloud and at a superficial level it's alright, but the emphasis is often in weird places, like he's reading them for the first time. Imagine a schoolboy reading a page from a textbook after being called on by the teacher.

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It's a shame because the preceding narrators – William Morgan Sheppard, Leonard Nimoy (in particular), and Sid Meyers all seemed to relish the words. I feel like there is a sophistication brought by the real history and concepts in Civilization, and Bean brings that down. It also doesn't help that the quotes selected for Civ VI seem to be more quips than primary source material. I also feel as though Bean's selection was based on meme cachet. I seem to recall Bean's death count, his sudden departure from Game of Thrones, and his lack of enthusiasm about volcanic regions elevated his star higher than the deserved ecliptic.


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