Civilization V: Gods and Kings, or How to Waste Time with History’s Greatest

Holiday Steam sales are just around the corner and you don't want to miss your chance at this fantastic game.

Where do I even begin with Civilization V: Gods and Kings? It’s like being in the honeymoon stage of your marriage and being told to sum up your partner in a few words.

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It’s just not easy.

This game is definitely in my top ten favorite games of all time (along with Civ IV. I like both of them equally! Sue me!) It’s been out for a little while now, but it recently got a pretty substantial bug fixing, balancing patch. I’m writing this review now, though, to spread the word on how great this game is so that when Steam sales roll around, you won’t pass up on purchasing it.

As of writing this, I’ve put only a measly 223 hours in, making it second in terms of how many hours I’ve put into a game on Steam (TF2 takes the prize at 331 hours.) This might sound like a lot, but when you get around to playing Civ V and see just how long each game takes, you’ll understand that I still have a lot to learn.

A Brief Rundown

For those who don’t really even know what Civ V is, it’s a turn-based strategy game where you take control of different famous leaders throughout history, ranging from people like Nebuchadnezzar II of Babylon all the way up to Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia with tons of different leaders from in between.

You control units, like every other strategy game, with some being military (land, sea, and air) and a few being units like settlers, workers, and great people who are utility based instead of combat based. You create cities, manage them, pump out culture, science, religion, and military units, all while dealing with the leaders of other countries (controlled either by AI or humans) and unaligned city-states (AI only) whose favor can be curried through quests and monetary gifts.

You can win through conquest, science, culture, diplomacy, or through the accruing of points, which are based off how well you’re doing in numerous respects. There’s much, much more to it, but that’s a very basic summary of it.

 If you can’t tell by now, I’m obsessed with this game. With its amazing graphics, its phenomenal score, and unlimited replay value, it’s hard to figure where to start.

Music

This game’s soundtrack comes with the GOTY edition, which I highly recommend getting. The music changes as the years advance in game and it changes depending on what country you are.

If you play a civilization like the Aztecs in Civ V, you get a soundtrack made of native style music. If you play Korea, you get songs from various Asian countries. If you play Austria, you get classical music. Not only that, but each country has its own theme for peace time and its own for war time. The war time soundtrack really pumps you up when you’re aiming to take down another empire.

Graphics

Civ IV’s leaders were very cartoon-ish, but in Civ V, they’re much more realistic looking, while still retaining a distinct style. When you see Montezuma placed behind his altar of fire, fear strikes your heart. When you see the beautiful Theodora offer you a trade, you’re more persuaded to take that trade. Not to mention that when playing on Direct X 10 or 11, the water just looks superb.

Gameplay

This is the most important part and this is where it shines the most. You start off a few thousand years BC with only a settler and a warrior. You create your first city and you see it grow. You explore your surroundings and meet other civilizations and leaders, leading to competition for land if they’re near you and an attempt to build alliances with the Civs not aligning against you, in order to ensure your survival.

As the years go by and you discover new technologies, you get access to new buildings, world wonders, and units. There’s a certain point where you stand back and see the Pyramids, the Chichen Itza, and the Statue of Liberty all in your capitol and go “Damn, I’m the greatest leader in history.”

Each leader has their own unique abilities and units, meaning you have plenty of reasons to replay, each time with a different leader. Every play through is a new experience with different civilizations and city-states, different wars, different alliances, etc. that you’ll never feel like you’re playing the same thing. I’ve yet to find a game that can produce this feeling even somewhat close to what the Civilization series can.

The Negatives

That being said, there are some cons. The game takes up a huge amount of time and it takes a lot of patience and a lot of trial-and-error in order to find the right strategies, so, it’s not for those who have short attention spans.

The biggest and most glaring fault, though, is that the AI is not consistent. You have games where they’re reasonable people, then you have games where they think you’re a warmongering menace to the world because you fought back in retaliation against the country who’s been tormenting you for thousands of years. They then close off all trade with you and usually go to war with you. However, there are mods out there to fix this and if you play with actual people, you won’t have this problem.

Yosef the Mighty

After all is said and done, though, this game is one of my favorites and will be something I revisit through the years. Any game that lets me play as Jewish vikings is an instant 10 out of 10.

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Civilization V: Gods and Kings, or How to Waste Time with History’s Greatest
Holiday Steam sales are just around the corner and you don't want to miss your chance at this fantastic game.

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Author
Joseph Rowe
World traveling English teacher, writer, and aspiring front-end developer.