Civilization V may be my favorite Civ game ever, so I was anxious to get my hands on it’s first true expansion. How does it hold up? Let’s find out.
The two biggest changes come from the espionage and religion aspects of the game. Spies can be useful to rig elections in city states to gain your empire favor, gathering intel from your rivals and protecting your own cities from rival spies. It takes a turn or so to move your spies around so you can’t jump around every turn to over-micromanage, which forces you to be selective with your limited spies.
Religion has a bigger impact on the game, fueling alliances and wars alike. You begin by founding a pantheon an then trying to race for a full religion. The first is the easiest to get, but if you miss that subsequent religions (up to seven) get harder to found. A recent game I played featured myself as Ethiopia (one of the new civs) and I founded the first new religion, rebranding one of the religions as Alphaism. The religions themselves are just names, and have no impact on gameplay by themselves. Where they affect gameplay is in the custom benefits you imbue them with. Alphaism, for example earned me 2 gold for each city following it and 2 culture to every faithful city that has a temple. There are many ways to customize your religion to your world and style of play.
The AI has purportedly gotten a boost in this expansion, and from my experience it shows. I have a harder time rolling over my enemies with sheer military manpower now, since the AI fields a better, more balanced, more intelligently used fighting force. Ethiopia (in the aforementioned game) got beaten up on by Russia twice before getting swamped by the Aztecs (I was actually taking notes during this match, and around 1725 AD my only note read ‘f**k this’ before I rage quit).
The new civs take advantage of the religion/espionage features, but the most unique has to be the Mayans. While playing them, I lost track of time while roughing up Germany because their calendar is significantly different. For example, turn 299 reads as year 126.96.36.199.2 on my screen. Does that mean anything to you? It sure doesn’t to me. Fortunately you can hover your mouse of it to see what year it is for the rest of the world.
The graphics and sounds are vintage Civilization V, which isn’t a bad thing but they’re certainly not top-of-the-line. In the end, if you like Civ V, there’s no real reason to pass up Gods and Kings. If you have fond memories of Civilization IV – most notably it’s expansion, Beyond the Sword – then you’ll also be happy with what Gods and Kings offers. It doesn’t reinvent Civ V, but as the old saying goes, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it – and Civilization V certainly ain’t broke.
|Still a ton of fun; New Civs have fun bonuses; Better war AI; Relgion and espionage work well||Nothing revolutionary; No real visual imnprovements; Mayan calendar is confusing|