Civilization V: Gods and Kings
- — 05 July, 2012 22:00
|Name||Civlization V: Gods and Kings|
|Summary:||More content, more complexity, more hours spent gaming.|
|Games Info:||Firaxis Games/2K Games|
It’s been a while since I played Civilization, except on my iPad, but it’s one of my favourite 'comfort' games – the games I turn to when I need a little break from the world. So I was keen to take a look at the new expansion pack, Gods and Kings.
Gods and Kings brings with it a raft of updates and changes, and I should have known from the title that it would involve religion.
Now, maybe you’re one of those who liked the religious aspect in Civilization IV, but I saw it only as a necessary evil that might buy me a diplomatic bone. I was pleased when the Culture aspect in Civ V used both religious and cultural items – monuments, theatre and the like – to accumulate status. In Gods and Kings, there’s a new metric, Faith, which sits alongside culture. You earn faith points as well as all the other points types.
Faith points buy you missionaries, great prophets and some faith-based buildings – shrines and cathedrals.
You start out selecting a few beliefs and found your religion, then start spreading it via the missionaries you buy.
Having spread my religion to everyone and their little brother before 1066, I was left holding thousands of Faith points and nothing to spend it on. I’m sure it’s meant to matter, but it all seems a bit half-thought-out right now, and I can’t see it being a big influence in how I play. Having said that, it's in everything, including City States (see image below), so I'm sure I'll find a way to use to advantage - without wasting unused Faith points - the more I play.
So, I’m not so fond of religion, but I’m entirely happy with secret agents. Civ V: Gods and Kings introduces an excellent new mechanic for spies. Rather than have a spy just head into a city and steal something (or, more usually, get caught), you can now assign them missions. My spy Simion reported to me that Dido of Carthage was plotting, and I could then go to the diplomacy screen and get in Washington’s good books by alerting him to it. Meanwhile, my spy Fifion is sitting at home in Dublin preventing the Wu Zetian from stealing Gunpowder technology.
It’s a fantastic addition, and my only complaint is that I haven’t yet figured out how to acquire a bigger spy network. It’s 1770AD in my current game and I have only Simion and Fifion.
Like many people, I play Civilization V to a culture victory on the backs of City States – if you buy your way into the good books of the City States, you can earn vastly more culture than any other nation. Or science, if you want to take that route to victory. So it was with some trepidation that I surveyed the changes to City State dealings. You can now buy improvements and demand tribute as well as the usual gifts of money. In addition, the City States now make more demands and requests – can you earn more culture than any other state for 20 turns to earn approval? Could you loan some money to a City State made destitute by Oda Nobanaga’s constant demands for tribute? It’s a little trickier to navigate than just crushing barbarians and paying money regularly, but never fear, the City State path to victory has not been eliminated entirely.
Diplomacy was ... well, a bit of a bust in Civ V, in my opinion. It didn’t seem to matter what I did, Washington would always get cranky at me for settling cities, Ghandi would be friendly, Oda Nobunaga would refuse to trade until 1860. It doesn’t seem to have changed much, even with the new additions: denouncings run out, you can reveal intrigue for a few brownie points, or install an embassy in a foreign capital. I still consider it a system I have to navigate merely to bring my people the incense and truffles they so desperately long for. See the pig in the image below? He's hunting truffles.
Yes, truffles are one of the new resources that your civilisations can demand, as if you didn’t have enough troubles delivering sugar, spices and pearls. And you can play as one of a number of extra rulers, such as Boudicca of the Celts. I’m not sure what this adds except for additional achievements to unlock on Steam.
Finally, the battle mechanics have been tweaked – you now see the points of damage you receive, rather than just a health bar, and it allows for a little more finesse and judgement in a fight. A tiny change, admittedly, but one that I wished for when Civ V first launched, so I’m glad it’s been instated.
Of course, as you can see in the picture below, you now won't "heal fully" as an option when you are promoted, but you can opt to add 50 hit points, which is close enough.
And is it just me, or is it harder to get access to water, now? It’s taken me forever, in my games, to get ships and troops out onto the open ocean to explore.
All up, the changes are for the better, or at least the more complex. While that sounds great, it’s not ideal if you don’t have a speedy system. I found that my system struggled more with rendering and concluding each turn. A game that I thought should take 7 hours ended up taking more than ten. If I had been trying to play on my less-powerful laptop, I think I might have given up in frustration. If your system exceeds the requirements, it’s worth giving it a go, and you shouldn’t have issues with pacing.
Aside from Faith and religion, which I truly think is a worthless addition, the majority of changes in the expansion are really good and add to enjoyment of, and planning within, the game. Most Civ V addicts will put down their money even without a review like this, but maybe this will persuade – or even dissuade – a few.