Civilization has been around for ages, and has more recently been tweaked and twisted for alternative audiences with console and mobile versions hitting the market. And yet it’s the PC versions that maintain the huge depth that have existed since the original Civilization landed all those years ago. It was Civilization that kept me up at night at university, far more than the work itself, and the game that sparked my love of the series. Several versions down the line we have Civ V, and while it’s been out a few months it’s only now had the Gods & Kings expansion added to it, and if you head along to your OnLive account you’ll notice something quite nice: both the game and the expansion bundled together.
We’ve long since covered the wonders of OnLive, so if you’re new to the system head to our review for that, but it’s the genius of Civ that is taking centre stage here. The game itself is as deep and varied as ever before – a huge range of possible leaders are on offer which becomes even huger thanks to G&K, each with their own unique units and bonuses, but what about the other features of the new add-on content?
There are two new areas here. The Gods half deals with religion, allowing you to set up your own religion with a selection of bonuses based on construction, combat or a few other areas. These religions can be spread to other civilisations giving you greater faith points which in turn can contribute towards buying combat units. There’s a window when this is hugely helpful; very early on in the game you don’t have the resources to set up your religion, and as you progress further other time other areas take over and become more powerful, but at the right time it serves as a great tool to advance your cities and build yourself up quicker than your rivals. The new civilisations are also geared nicely towards religion, giving you a good reason to try out the Swedes, Celts or other newbies, and being able to select a wide range of very narrow choices means you can tailor your religion to perfectly match how you want your game to pan out.
Over in the Kings corner we’ve got espionage, something that has been covered lightly in previous versions but is now a fully fledged system. Instead of sending your spies manually around the place, a screen lets you select where they should go and what they should do when they get there. While this takes away from the tension of slowly sneaking your spies around enemy units it speeds things up a bit, even if your spies take a few days short of forever to do useful stuff. But get settled somewhere without their own spy and you can steal technologies, find out who’s planning to start wars and all sort of other handy info. It’s not as deep as the religion and doesn’t really contribute quite as much but it’s worth having and gives you an alternative angle of attack.
Elsewhere we’ve got three new scenarios to try out from various time periods, and there have been a few tweaks to combat and suchlike, although it’s still a pain in the arse to invade an enemy city successfully. As an expansion it’s not huge, and for the price it might not be quite worthwhile to most, but as a bundle?
Well now we’re moving the goalposts. If you haven’t already picked up Civ V, as I hadn’t, then buying this as a bundle is effectively buying a bigger version of Civ V. With OnLive dealing with all of the updates, installations and other time wasting rubbish and letting you focus on the gaming it’s a very attractive prospect. when you buy the bundle you get instant access to a fully patched, fully updated and fully Gods and Kings enabled version of a great game.
And that’s what this boils down to. The bundle available on OnLive isn’t the route to take if you’ve already got Civ V, but for those who haven’t got it just yet and want to see the whole package then it’s ideal. Civilization is still an amazing experience that can last you months, years even, while eating up copious amounts of your spare time and making you late to bed every night. If you want to get back into the world of Civ, this is spot on.
Reviewed on OnLive