by William Thompson
reviewed on PC
The Civilization curse
I arrived at work bleary eyed. My evening turned into a long one as leader of the Mayan empire. My Atlatlist units had been in a strong position for much of the early campaign, dealing with the untrustworthy French. And just as I thought I had them just where I wanted them... it happened. My alarm clock went off, indicating that I had played through the night. The Civilization curse had struck again like it has done so many times throughout the series. That simple ability of wanting gamers to play just one more turn until their Wonder was built, their units were in position to attack or their scientists discovered that next all-powerful technology.
Civilization V: Gods and Kings isnít an entirely new game, but it does add some new, fun elements to the game. Well, when I say new, I mean old, because most of the elements have been used in prior versions of the series. But they are new for Civilization V. Weíve seen religion before in Civilization IV, espionage was a major aspect of Civilization II and most of the new empires available have been seen before too. But combined, these make for a new game style
Our Father who art in Heaven
Religion has played a major role in shaping the world as we know it. And now it gets to play a larger role in Civilization. Yes, we have seen it before in Civilization IV but Gods and Kings builds upon the platform by introducing a Faith resource into the mix. Once you have enough Faith, you can found a pantheon and then create your own religion based on one of the eleven religions offered. Once your religion gets underway, it can then be tailored to suit your needs. The benefits from religious faith can be substantial if chosen well. Some benefits can add to culture, some can add to science output, and others can produce religious zealots that enhance your empire. And, even better, once youíve chosen your traits, no other religion can select them (Um... Where's the logic in that? -Ed).
Just like Varys and his little birds
Espionage returns too, although you canít poison enemy water supplies or plant nuclear devices as was the case of Civilization II. After reaching the renaissance era, spies become available. You can then place a spy in an enemy city to steal their technology. Your spy can also find out little titbits of information that can be used against the civilization or used to aid your plans, being one step ahead of the enemy. Your spies can also be sent to city-states to help win favour with them by rigging elections. And unlike the spies in Civilization II which were spent after they had completed their mission, unless your James Bond wannabes get captured and put to the sword, they can continue stealing techs as long as they harbour in the enemy city.
Naval combat has changed a fraction too, with ship types split into two categories Ė melee and ranged. The ranged ships work in a similar fashion to archers, catapults or cannon (although they do not need to be set up first). They can bombard coastal cities or nearby enemy units from a relatively safe distance. They can be especially handy against early coastal barbarians. On the other hand, the melee ships can attack other sea-borne enemies.
The new mechanics of religion and espionage work well, and certainly add something to the series.
AI players are difficult to keep happy and often gang up on an advanced human player.