First of all I would like to say I am a HUGE maniac of 4X games and I played EVERYTHING that ever came out and I could find - including Stars!, Space Empires V and Pax Imperia: titles ranging from Civ1-4, Colonization 1&2, MoM, MasterOfOrion 1,2,3 (3 sucked), Alfa Centauri to Age of Wonders 1,2 and Lords of Magic are so obvious that not worth mentioning (yes that includes GalCiv series and SinsOfSE).
I have not played the Elemental, because there is no demo. But I am done with Civ5 demo and there is something tham makes mi kind of expert in this game: Yes, I played Civilization:Revolutions on XBox 360. I told you I am a maniac of 4X...
So, Civilization 5 is 100% Civilization: Revolutions. And while this kind of gameplay kicks butt on a gaming system, on a couch in front of a 55" LED TV it is just too simplistic for a PC game. I just expect something more when I am sitting in front of a computer in the "office position"...
You do not really have control on anything that is happening in your cities, there is no way you can really adjust anything for any kind of a strategy or balance (actually you had more control in Civ:Revolutions on XBox), stuff just happens and cities grow - so the game is very heavly dependent on military ass-kicking while empire-bulding and economy are virtually non-existent. As I said - it was fine on X-Box, but that is not what I want from a PC game.
I can see how younger kids from the "special generation" may find is nice to have a fast pace and no real thinking other than RTS-style active expansion, but at this point first Civilization had more depth. And it was a STRATEGY game not watching-animations-of-units-kicking-each-other game.
Now they took out the strategy, and tactics is still pitifull compared to Space Empires V in example - which was OK, in the first Civilizations since in a strategy game units had strategical meaning, now the units are tactical, with not much tactics going on.
So, Civilization 5 goes like this - you build your first city, you do everything you can to get population up since this is the only way you can research anything, you explore a lot, because you gonna need iron fast - once you have iron and ironworks and your enemies do not - you won because you have swordsmen and they do not. It still takes time you win, but you won, because you have an advantage to slow them down. Just kill all of their units until you are far enough to research a siege unit and bang the cities.
Luck is a key here, just like in the Civ: Revolutions, because cities happen in small quantities and access to resources is vital since without them there are no military units.
Money is useless. Cannot use it to prop up research, cannot use them to finish buildings faster, you can only buy ready stuff for huge sums, so again, ignore everything but population growth and from certain point production so you have workers to... build farms to increase population growth.
Ah... and the requirements: I love when a board game needs 2 GeForce 260GTX core216 SLI on an nForce chipset to run smoothly on medium detail on a 1900x1200 monitor...