by William Thompson
reviewed on PC
What else is new?
Besides the Religion, Espionage and Naval combat changes, there aren’t too many other new features. My Mayan empire is just one of a number of new (or reintroduced) nations with which you can conquer the world. Others, such as Carthaginians, The Dutch and Celts can also be selected. Each has their own unique unit and trait bonuses. My Mayans, for example, gained a Great Leader every 374 years (known as the Long Count). There are also a host of new buildings (some are empire specific), a handful of new Wonders and a few new units thrown in as well. Speaking of units, combat has been slightly reworked in Gods and Kings so that unit hit points are on a 100 point scale rather than the original 10 point scale. As such, combat seems to last longer than it did previously.
There have also been three new scenarios added to the game. I haven’t had a chance to play all of them yet, but the couple that I have played have been done before in some form or other over the series length through user-created scenarios. I guess that has been a feature of the more recent Civilization titles… the fact that gamers have been able to design their own scenarios and custom maps. The new scenarios are indeed a chance to play a variation from the standard game style. For the most part, they are shorter games that, in the case of the Empires of the Smokey Skies scenario, bring new units to the table. And of course they play differently due to the religion and espionage mechanics.
The game does have its flaws, though. At times the AI will 'cheat' when you seem to be getting too powerful or your borders begin encroaching on theirs. The AI-controlled nations will constantly break pacts, denounce your civilization and team up against you. It seems they hardly ever team up with you against other AI controlled nations. They can also be tough at the bargaining table, always asking for more than what seems a fair trade, unless they’re looking down the barrel of complete destruction.
Bird’s eye view
Visually, Gods and Kings is the loveliest yet. Although the landscape hasn’t changed much since the original Civilization V, the stunning vistas and harsh climates visible from various heights above the Earth are still a joy to behold. Units are again easily identifiable at close range as well as from a distance (although for some similar units, the unit icon certainly helps). Leaders continue to show their displeasure at the peace table after you’ve left them with a dwindling empire, but can also grant a smile or two your way when a particularly good deal is made.
Audio is amazing as well, continuing to set a high benchmark. Although the background music seems to play in a loop, it is never annoying and always seems appropriate for each nation. The leaders also continue to have wonderfully voiced greetings, with their own accents. It is small touches such as this that make playing Civilization so much fun.
More of the same... but with more thrown in
If you have never played a Civilization game before, there is never a better time to start. And for those who have played countless hours of the Civilization series, then you'll definitely enjoy the inclusions that Gods and Kings brings to the latest incarnation. The new game mechanics work well and certainly add a little more to an already full game. Of course, if you don’t like the religious addition to the game, you can always concentrate your efforts in the other areas of science, commerce or culture as has always been the case with the Civilization series. The visuals and audio certainly continue the standards set by past titles. And with the range of new scenarios and new civilizations to choose from, there is every chance that you too will be playing on through the night. But now I need to return to my Mayan Empire. We are on the verge of conquering the world and I just hope that their calendar was wrong, because we’re nearing 2012 and there is still much to do.
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.