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Civilization V: Gods & Kings

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Known as the one of the simpler iterations in the series, Civilization 5 released in 2010 to strong reviews and a few angry fans (to say the least). The game didn’t feature a lot of the convoluted micromanagement Civ players had come to know and love, and it also omitted many of the major gameplay mechanics present in previous titles (Religion being a big one). Enter Civilization 5: Gods & Kings, the first expansion pack for Firaxis Games’ latest turn-based strategy extravaganza, promising to restore religion, spies, and a slew of other improvements the forums have been yelling for. Get ready for Civilization to get a little more “Civilization-y.”

Some of the returning functionality in Gods & Kings doesn’t quite work the same as when they appeared in previous titles. Religion is based on a new type of currency called Faith. Producing Temples, Shrines, and Wonders will boost your empire’s Faith output every turn. The game offers ton of ways to create and spread your religion across empires that don’t even have to be your ally. After a certain amount of Faith is collected, you can spend it on Great Prophets, Missionaries, and Inquisitors to help get your creed going.

A Great Prophet has the power to start, spread, and enhance your religion. The first time you acquire the unit, you’ll be prompted to choose from a list of real world theologies that don’t have any inherent benefits. Think of it as simply a name to differentiate who has what religion. Subsequently, the game allows you to pick two beliefs to associate with your religion (a Founder Belief and a Follower Belief). Beliefs provide a bonus to growth, culture, production, combat, etc. Every city on the map who decides to follow your good word, friendly or otherwise, will cash in on your specified Follower Belief, but will also provide your empire with the Founder Belief benefit. Everybody wins, but as the creator and beneficiary of the religion, you win harder. This provides incentive to do everything in your power to make your religion the only religion.

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Spreading the word of God digitally.

Throughout the match, Great Prophets can add more beliefs and squash stubborn heretics to help create the dream of a unified planet. Missionaries and Inquisitors essentially perform the same tasks as a Great Prophet, but aren’t nearly as effective in converting cities and won’t survive as long in enemy territory. Every religious unit is free to roam into the domain of other civilizations, even without an open-borders treaty, and start busting heathen heads. Doing so might anger the A.I. and cause bitter feelings for the rest of the game, but it’s a necessary risk to achieve as many bonuses as you can.

It’s a shame a religious victory wasn’t added to the diverse list of ways you can achieve glory in Civilization, but the new system supports other means of success extremely well. With the ability to choose Beliefs/benefits, your religion can be custom tailored to your triumph of choice. In a way, Faith is the new Gold. It can be spent, traded, and saved for the good of your people (you). The added complication is welcome and, after a slight learning curve, adds all kinds of exciting new possibilities for every match.

Besides the systems of dogma, spies are also a major focus in the new expansion allowing you to steal technologies, rig city-state votes, or keep them home for defensive purposes. The Espionage Screen lets you manage your spies and send them all over the world for dangerous tasks. Placing a spy in an enemy city allows you to see their production, culture, growth, and pretty much any other detail you’d want to know. After a certain amount of turns behind enemy lines, your agent will “borrow” a technology indefinitely without pay. It’s pretty handy, but if you get unlucky enough to be stealing from a spy protected city, there’s a chance your operative is going to be sleeping with the pearls.

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In the Navyyyy!

Spies, like Religion, are supportive. They can amp up influence with city-states for an easier diplomatic victory, steal techs for a science win, or stay on defense to prevent theft. It’s a new x-factor that can help give players a leg up who are behind and yet protect empires who are in the lead. It’s well balanced on its own and fits perfectly with the existing gameplay.

Gods & Kings includes nine new civilizations and three new scenarios. Each new civ comes complete with unique tile improvements, buildings, and units, including a soldier that can scale mountains. With the inclusion of faith, some new civs include heavy bonuses that help them command the world’s religions. However, in an effort to make the game balanced and seamless, the developers have also changed some of the original civilizations’ benefits. The result is a group of over twenty leaders that look like they were made for Gods & Kings from the beginning. Some of the new capabilities seem so unfair/totally awesome, fans will salivate over which one to play first.

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When all else fails…

The Scenarios in Civilization 5 were little more than shortened matches with a few special rules and units. Assuming the same for the Scenarios in Gods & Kings would be a grand mistake. Each one includes a ton of new units, benefits, and technologies. They’re like entirely brand new, little games within the game. One focuses on the fall of Rome, giving you the option to kill Caesar with bloodthirsty barbarians, or save the empire with Roman soldiers (Maximus Style). Another throws you into a fantasy/steampunk history with fictional units to boot, and the last one concentrates on the Renaissance era. All three are completely fresh pieces of content and worth every minute of gameplay. Even if you were weary of playing the Scenarios before, spit out the sour taste in your mouth and definitely give these a chance.

As expected, the expansion also includes new techs, units, and buildings for every civilization to play around with. Some feel slightly superfluous, but most are clever additions to the gameplay that support the new content and improve the old, including an alteration to navy combat that makes military ships a lot more dangerous. Every change fits. This is the most important thing for expansion packs. There is so much that’s new, yet it’s hard to imagine the game without it, making this an essential portion of the experience. If you thought Civilization V was good before, buy Gods & Kings and apologize to your mind later after it’s blown.

The Good

Seamless integration of Religion and Espionage | Improved Navy Combat | Addicting Scenarios

The Bad

A.I. still as military crazy as ever | No new victory conditions

4.5/5

Little David Galanter grew up in Orange County, CA loving videogames and anything else that repelled girls. After getting his Bachelor's Degree in Theatre Arts, David decided to start contributing his soft silky words to the world via online media. He currently owns a website with a weekly podcast (www.drgman.com) and is a reviewer for Default Prime!
1 comments
Klikko
Klikko

A well written review, I look forward to trying it out after summer!