The Civilization franchise is one of rare ones that keep getting better with age. Right when you thought Civilization III was the best one out there, Sid Meier threw Civilization IV at us, and that blew us strategy fans away. Civilization IV’s first expansion pack, Warlords received positive acclaim, and was accepted well by the fans.
But once all the information on the second expansion piled up, we realized that Warlords was almost an empty disk compared to this massive pack. Touted as the largest Civ expansion pack, Beyond the Sword is adding several new features, civilizations and what-not! Read on to find out what this stellar expansion pack has in store for us.
One of the most childishly exciting moments in a Civ-fan’s life is when Firaxis throws tidbits of what Civilizations and Leaders will be included in an upcoming game. As you can expect, the original game released with several noticeable gaps in its Civilizations roster. Beyond the Sword will patch up all holes by adding a whopping 10 new Civilizations!
The new Civs include old favourites such as Babylon, The Netherlands and the Mayans as well as new Civilizations such as Khmer, Ethiopia, Native Americans (uniting most American tribes) and to everyone’s shock, the Holy Roman Empire. Just head over to the Civilization Fanatics’ Forums to see all the outrage the HRE caused, including claims that Charlemagne (who will be leading the HRE) was never a leader of the HRE!
There will also be six new leaders for existing civilizations, including Darius for Persians (no Xerxes this time. Sorry, 300 Fans 😉 ), Lincoln for good ol’ America, Pericles for the Greeks, Suleiman for the Ottomans, a rather unheard-of Queen Boudica for the Celts and (again, a shock) Charles de Gaulle for France.
This new feature is very identical to Religion and is initiated in the late-game, as a substitute to Religion. Corporations can be spread be using an Executive and provide benefits for cities that have them. Corporations consume a particular resource and produce another, with the Corporate Headquarters (equivalent of Holy City) receiving bonus gold for each branch.
You can also block Corporations using the State Property civic, or only block off foreign corporations using Mercantilism civic.
Espionage, in the original game is nothing more than building the “Scotland Yard” wonder and creating spies. In Beyond the Sword, it has been beefed up to make it comparable to other important factors like Culture, Religion, Money etc. Espionage will have its own slider, with which you can dedicate money to undercover operations.
With this, you will start developing intelligence about other civilizations automatically, which you can use to chart your course for world domination. Like before, you can send spies to commit a wider range of missions which will no doubt be a nuisance to your opponents.
Expanded Diplomatic and Space Victories
The two types of victory in Civilization IV that I found to be rather banal were the Diplomatic and Space victories. In the former, you must secure a number of votes over an opponent to win in the United Nations, while in the latter you desperately scramble to build a spaceship and send it to (voila!) Alpha Centauri.
Now, both have been expanded and made more diverse. The United Nations will now have lots more (and thankfully, more practical) regulations including conduction trade embargoes, ending wars etc. An earlier version of the UN will also be instated – the Apostolic Palace. The core difference will be that the AP will only work for civilizations with a shared religion. This will sure make the game a lot more interesting.
The Space Victory was formerly achieved when a spaceship was built and launched. This time, though you will need the spaceship to reach Alpha Centauri to win! You can construct a space ship with different types of parts this time round, which means that one civilization can build an SS with haphazard parts earlier, while another builds a more streamlined SS later. Which one will reach Alpha Centauri first?
One of Warlord’s most touted features was its flashy new list of Scenarios. BtS will be adding a lot more Scenarios, but will not include any of Warlord’s. The new scenarios are varied in setting, from Charlemagne’s exploits to futuristic scenarios like Final Frontier and Afterworld.
There will be many new themes and play styles for these new scenarios, which will definitely add a twist to the vanilla game of Civ.
Ah, the one feature I wanted the most. Civilization IV was a very monotonous game, albeit very addictive. Random Events will add spice to the already excellent game by throwing random obstacles at the player. Random Events will include natural disasters like Tsunamis, Earthquakes and the like to Diplomatic Marriages, Pleas of help and “Quests”. More than 100 Random Events are supposed to be shipped with the final game, which makes me jump with joy.
And Lots, Lots More!
The game will fill all remaining disk space with all sorts of other features, like Colonies splitting from Civilizations, a brand new Foreign Advisory screen, New Wonders, Buildings and a helluva lot more units (Including Cuirassiers, Paratroopers and Privateers)! This is surely one expansion pack worth looking forward to.
Sid Meier’s Civilization IV: Beyond the Sword will be invading your nearest store on July 23rd, 2007 if you live in the United States and 30th July if you live in Rest of the sane world. Click here to go to the official website.