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If you haven't finalized any Memorial Day plans yet, then Firaxis has a suggestion: conquer the civilized world. From now until Sunday, Civilization V will be free to play through Steam.

In Civilization V, players must lead a nation from primitive times until the space age. You explore the world, create and upgrade cities, manage your troops, and engage in diplomacy with other civilizations. You can achieve ultimate victory in your game through a number of means, such as winning the space race or wiping out every other nation on the planet.

To start playing the game for free, simply head over to Steam and download the game files. You'll have unlimited access to the game's content until Sunday at 1PM PST. If you want to keep playing after that, you'll need to buy the game.

As usual, Steam is offering a discount to coincide with this free play period. You can buy Civilization V or the Civ V Game of the Year Edition for 75% off the usual price until Monday at 10AM PST. The Game of the Year edition includes the following bonus content:
  • All 4 Cradle of Civilization Map Packs (Mediterranean, Asia, Americas, Mesopotamia)
  • Civilization Pack: Babylon (Nebuchadnezzar II)
  • Double Civilization and Scenario Pack: Spain and Inca
  • Civilization and Scenario Pack: Polynesia
  • Civilization and Scenario Pack: Denmark - The Vikings
  • Explorer’s Map Pack
Civ V seems like a good candidate for a free weekend. It's a massive game so you won't be able to just knock it out in a weekend. The more likely scenario is that you'll find yourself in the midst of a medieval war and decide to pony up cash so you can slay your foes.

The timing for this discount works out pretty well for Firaxis, too. Next month they'll release the game's Gods and Kings expansion. This allows them to raise awareness for Civ V before that new content goes live.

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