“Civilization 5: Gods and Kings”
Rating: 3 out of 4
“Don’t talk about money, politics or religion.”
It’s an adage as old as Emily Post herself, and one that “Civilization 5” had no problem breaking two thirds of for the last couple of years. With “Gods and Kings,” the new expansion pack for the game, “Civ 5” crushes the final taboo of polite society and uses it as a formidable layer to an already stellar game.
In addition to “faith” being added to the available resources on your ledger as a world leader, the ancient art of espionage has snuck back into the game in a less meaningful way. These two additions certainly make for a more varied gameplay experience, but it’s not exactly an enormous leap forward.
Religion is by far the most interesting new feature arriving with “Gods and Kings.” Spiritual conquest was a staple of “Civilization 4,” but was noticeably absent from the release of “Civ 5.” Now, instead of just picking from a menu of available religions, you adopt individual beliefs that dictate how your citizens behave and what kind of bonuses you get. Encourage spiritual growth in your cities, and before long your civilization will be founding a major religion for others to adopt.
“Civilization” games are special because they try and simulate something insane, that is, the entire human existence for the last 5,000 years. Any feature that makes the game more than just building armies and sacking towns is just another reason why “Civ” players are so mad for the game. A good example of this is espionage, which is not a major factor in the game’s outcome, but is a simple and fun way to weasel out information, influence and technology from other countries and city-states.
The more subtle advance has come in a retuning of the combat system, moving the stats for each unit to an easier-to-follow 100 point scale. In addition to the technical improvements, “Gods and Kings” boasts a couple dozen new units unique to specific civilizations, new World Wonders to explore and nine new playable world leaders with personalities to match their historical counterparts. You do not want to get on Attila the Hun’s bad side.
Maybe it’s not a grand breakthrough in the history of “Civilization,” but “Gods and Kings” is a worthy refresh to an already excellent game.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun