Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Civ V: Gods and Kings Worth the Price?

Civilization V: Gods and Kings

2010 was a grand year in gaming, and was all the sweeter due to the high praise Civilization V received from game reviewers and players alike. Civilization V brought about a new, streamlined interface players either loved or hated. Though many did enjoy the new look and controls in the long run, Civ V's greatest accomplishment is, in my humble opinion, its exceptional conversion rate. I'm talking about all those who never played a Civilization game because they saw what the games were about and it didn't appeal to them for whatever reason. I know gamers who scoffed at games like Civilization III and IV. Now they're die-hard fans and were among those who bought the new Gods and Kings expansion on the first day. Yeah, I win :) But the question is this: Is Civilization V: Gods and Kings worth the price it's going for? As always I'll provide my verdict at the end of the review; my score should provide gamers with a solid idea of what I think. Of course, I'll need to explain what it does right and wrong to earn my recommendation, provided I do so. So let's dive in.

Civ V: Gods and Kings Newcomers

Gods and Kings boasts nine new civs to join the happy family. And it's a welcome addition to the Spanish, who are overpowered like you wouldn't believe. The new civs bring with them a large variety of play styles and recommended strategize to take advantages of their culture's benefits. Some of the new guys to the party are: Carthaginians, Swedes, Huns, Dutch, Byzantines, Mayans, and a few more. I wonder what happens when you reach 2012 as the Mayans??? An overused joke by now I'm sure, but I couldn't help myself.

Gods and Kings Interview

History of Gods and Kings

Civ V: Gods and Kings includes three new scenario additions to spice things up a bit and add even more replayability. Take part in the Fall of Rome. Being half Italian myself and tracing my family roots back to the Roman Republic, this one seemed a bit of a taboo but fun anyway :p Also, take part in the fight for the Holy Lands, something else my ancestors had a personal role in. And the third I'll leave as a surprise just to be a jerk. These added scenarios are fun and engaging to play. Although, I will say after you complete them you'll probably go back and stick with setting up your own games. There's just something about altering history that never loses it's appeal.

Civiization Gods and Kings Religion

Hallelujah! I,along with so many hundreds, if not thousands of fans, was at a loss for words. I searched and searched but couldn't find one of my favorite things about Civ IV. The religion. I thought, How could this be? How can you play what is essentially a sandbox game where you are the driving force behind the history of the civilization you choose, loosely based on reality, and not have religion factor in whatsoever. It just didn't compute. Whoever okayed the loss of such an intricate and important game mechanic should hang his/her/their heads in shame. Let's all take a moment......... Okay, I absolve him/her/them of their sins and accept their repentance, for they have listened to their beloved fan base and returned to the path of awesome gaming. Religion makes a furious comeback in this game. And while it may not necessarily be as powerful as it was in Civ IV (arguably mind you), it does add some much needed variety Civ IV's religion system lacked.

Gods and Kings: How Religion Works

In Civilization V players can found a religion and tailor it to their needs and preferences. You may be thinking "So what? I did that in the last game". And that may be, but can you honestly say you were able to customize the religion system to the same extend as Civ V? I say nay. Civ V's religion works much the same way as its predecessor, but with many added twists that keep the game interesting. And roughly 2 years after its release, that can only be a good thing. Replay value people. It's becoming a lost art. Thank you Civ series for setting an example. To discover a religion, you must gain Faith, which is accumulated kind of like wealth and technology. Build a Pantheon and pick perks such as a bit of extra gold. get a great prophet and found your religion going on to other perks such as follower beliefs which affects all civs following your religion. They're basically your religious subscribers. For example, should you choose a perk called swords into plowshares, you and the civs following your religion will grow faster. Munchies all around! a second great prophet will enable you to enhance your religion with additional effects such as providing more cultural output of your temples or increasing the range of how far your religion spreads, or, protecting your native religion from conversion. Obviously there is much and more I could discuss, but if you've read my other reviews you know I don't like to give everything away.

Gods Kings and Spies

Whether you take your martini shaken or stirred, you'll like the game of spy warfare. And I say warfare because unlike Civ IV, there are several options that will have you creating global conflicts left and right. And it's fun to say the very least. Just like the last game, spies can be sent into friendly and hostile territory to gather information such as what a city is building or what it's military consists of. Spies can steal plans and damage infrastructure as well as protect your own country from espionage. If you can, try stealing some technology as some of the tech in Civ V feels like it takes 23456543 turns to achieve. Send your spies into city states and rig elections, start a coup to make alliances and break the ones you don't need or want. Or you can do what I did with my spies: Send one into enemy land, give it an impossible mission, get caught, have the hostile country declare war on me, and let the fun begin. I targeted a country hostile towards me that just so happened to have a hostile country to it acting as a buffer zone between us. The second country notices the influx of military units near their borders, built their own to match, and then declared war on the first country, probably thinking the first country meant to invade them as well. A human player may not fall for this, but the AI sure did. They warred and I moved in at the end and wiped them both out with minimal losses. Win :)

Gods and Kings: a couple complaints from the Mortals and Peasants

Though Gods and Kings does add many engaging new mechanics and twists to the game play, it still suffers from some of the mistakes many players complained about post-expansion. One of the biggest complaints was that the AI were all warmongering brutes. Even those with a supposed emphasis on things other than war such as culture and technology, ended up declaring war on the player, usually sooner rather than later. On a harder difficulty I once found myself in a war with four fronts and would have been five had I not come to terms with freaking Montezuma. But then he re-declared about 20 turns later anyway. The issue of overly aggressive AI hasn't been fixed. But to those who complained about it, let me say this in the developers defense. We all asked for more aggressive AI in Civ IV. Careful what you wish for. I personally got over it in due time and in some ways even prefer it. And I understand, I do. It can disrupt the diplomatic options, sometimes breaking it to the point of there being no point in even trying. But so many of you outright demanded Civ V have more challenging AI in terms of fighting. You got it. Simple. Now be a man, or woman, whatever, wipe those tears, and crush the AI beneath your heel like the worm it is.

Gods and Kings Conclusion

Gods and Kings is a fantastic expansion, all things considered. The new religion system might take some getting used to, especially for those who started the series with Civ V, but it's easy to get used to and very addictive. In fact, I enjoy it so much I only wish it was available from the start. For listening to fan feedback and integrating new elements that may not change the way the game is played as a whole,but rather increases optimization and player preference, Civilization V: Gods and and Kings earns a solid 7 out of 10. And now my recommendation. Is it worth the price. My honest opinion is NO. For everything it does, it's just not quite enough to warrant $30 dollars. It's not HALF a game. Wait for the price to shift down a bit, or research some deals. If you haven't, buy Civilization V and then treat yourself to Gods and Kings for the right price.

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