Sid Meier's Civilization 5: Gods and Kings Review

By Kevin Kelly - Posted Jun 25, 2012

Civilization V has already had a Game of the Year Edition that contained new map packs and civilizations, but now the game is getting its first full-fledged expansion pack in Gods & Kings. But is it worth it? Read on to find out!

The Pros
  • Adds new civilizations, new units, and new mechanics
  • Religion is implemented much better than in Civ IV
  • Very fun built-in scenarios, particularly" Empires of the Smoky Skies
The Cons
  • Doesn't fix any of the underlying Civ V problems like lag or poor AI

Civilization 5: Gods and Kings Review:

Civilization has long been a very addictive, very frustrating, and very fun game. Although usually the fun part only sets in when you’re remembering a particularly good game, or finally vanquishing all of the other civilizations on the globe. Frequently, the game devolves into a battle between staying awake and completing just. one. more. turn. I don’t know how many times I’ve opened this game to just play a few minutes, and then suddenly noticed the sun coming up outside. That’s how addicting it can be.

But there’s been a rift in the Civilization camps between IV and V. With V changing so much of the game, lovers of IV have been reticent to abandon their beloved game, which still does brisk business on Steam with plenty of expansions. V has had a lot of DLC, but that has just been in the form of new civilizations. Now the newest version of Civilization finally gets its first full expansion pack in the form of Gods & Kings.

Civilization 5: Gods and Kings

While this pack does indeed add even more civilizations to the mix (it now has a total of 34), it also introduces new units, new scenarios, and the biggest change to the game: the re-introduction of religion to the series. The series had religion back in Civilization IV, but with so many changes to the game in V, the development team thought it would be too much to stick it on top of the newly designed combat and diplomatic models in the new game.

But it’s back now, and changes the game. While you don’t actually get to be god, you do get to choose which ones your civilization worships. But is it worth it?

Losing My Religion

Early in the game, you’ll have the ability to found a Pantheon of gods. That forms the building blocks of your own religion, and you’ll choose what traits your religion has. While the game has built-in religions that are named after the world’s actual religions, you can rename then anything you want. Which is why my citizens were adopting Cthuluism.

Religion requires its own “currency,” and that comes in the form of Faith, which is generated by Shrines. That allows you to spawn a Pantheon, and from there it is up to the player to turn it into a fully functioning religion. Eventually you can spawn Great Prophets and missionaries, which you can use to spread your religion to the far reaches of the globe. The more you expand, the more faith you can accumulate, and you can spend that faith on buildings and units.

This is a big change from Civilization IV where you chose a religion at random and watched things unfold on their own. Now you are shaping the course of your own religion, and using it as a resource.

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In The Navy

Combat has been tweaked in Gods & Kings as well, adding a larger point scale to units. As a result, you can rank them up even more incrementally now, which will make you be more cautious in using your veteran units. If you have a Battleship who has survived and triumphed in countless naval battles, and now has a huge bonus when attacking coastal cities, who don’t want him scuttled to the bottom of the sea.

Speaking of the sea, the naval combat has gotten the biggest boost with the addition of melee units and units meant to fill the gaps left in the first game. Case in point is the new Galleas unit, which is a renaissance-era, ranged attack ship that is perfect for bombarding cities. Paired with the new melee naval units, which can enter and occupy an enemy city without the need for ground forces, you now have a formidable navy to use and defend against.

Civilization 5: Gods and Kings

Spy vs. Spy

Espionage has also been beefed up in the game, and when you enter the Renaissance era, you’ll be given your first spy. You can send these spies into enemy cities where they can rig elections and work on your behalf to turn a City-State your way, or they can simply monitor activities and let you know when someone is plotting against you.

You can also use them to steal technologies, but beware that enemy spies can just as easily steal your technology, and you’ll need to build things like Police Stations or Constabularies to try to keep out enemy spies. You can even develop an enormous Firewall later in order to rid your city of spies, but by then the damage may be already done.

Civilization 5: Gods and Kings

Scenarios That Change The Game

Gods & Kings includes several new built-in scenarios, one of which is the steampunk-themed “Empire of the Smoky Skies.” This scenario spawns you with units based off of steam and a fictional element called Luboric, and you’ll start the game with settlers, workers, and Land Ironclads, which are steam-powered tanks. Rather than just a setup that apes a historical situation, “Empire of the Smoky Skies” is a fully realized new world for your to step into.

This scenario features new units, new characters, and new technologies, and it marks the first time that a scenario has had so much attention paid to it. It is worth playing for the new units alone, but you’ll quickly be won over by the attention to detail here, including the language that the other civilization leaders use when dealing with you. Then of course there are the airships and other steampunk-genre elements that make this a fantastically fun addition.

Civilization 5: Gods and Kings

It Might Not Be Civilized, But It's Fun

Civilization has been around since 1991, and each version of the game has become increasingly more complex. When Civilization V rewrote much of the game and lost religion in the process, players bemoaned the loss. But this new expansion restores religion and takes it above and beyond, making it a worthy re-introduction to the series.

Unfortunately, since many of Civilization V’s faults lie deep in its own source code, those can’t be fixed through an expansion pack. You’ll still find AI that makes terrible decisions, or find yourself waiting forever while the game ponders through the turns for the other civilizations. But the addition of several new scenarios and tons of new units can help you overlook that fact until Civilization VI inevitably comes out.

If you’re even a casual Civilization V player, Gods & Kings is a worthwhile addition to the game. If you’re a newcomer to the series, it definitely should not be missed either. You can pick up the Civilization V Game of the Year Edition for about $40 these days, and Gods & Kings makes a perfect add-on for $29.99. That should your turn-based strategies sated for several months of sleepless nights.