The second expansion to Civilization IV, Beyond the Sword, has been released. In this article, Solver, a long-time Apolyton staff member, reviews the game.
You can buy Beyond the Sword from Amazon US or Amazon UK.
Civ4: Beyond the Sword is finally about to be released worldwide, to the excitement of the Civ community. I have had the pleasure of contributing to this expansion and will now give my thoughts on the finished project.
Before saying anything else, it’s important to say that Beyond the Sword is easily the most ambitious expansion the Civ series has ever seen. It does not limit itself to the addition of new civilizations and some big feature. There are numerous new features with a significant gameplay impact, and then there’s a really high amount of minor tweaks and additions. BtS is very much unlike the Warlords expansion. Playing Warlords felt just like Civ4 with a bunch of new civilizations and some smaller stuff thrown in. Playing BtS is really different from playing Civ4 or Warlords, and player strategies will also reflect that.
Still, no matter how many features there are, new civilizations are the most visible addition to many players. This time, we’re given ten whole new civilizations to enjoy playing with, and they’re really a mixed bag. Personally, I’m very glad to see the Mayans and Ethiopians make it, as well as the first ever Southeast Asian representatives, the Khmer. The lineup is not perfect, and on the more disappointing side there is the generic Native American civilization and the Holy Roman Empire, for which it’s fairly doubtful whether they were a civilization. Don’t forget that you can easily rename the latter into Franks, for example.
BtS does not include any new civilization traits, and is probably the better for it. Including even one new trait would create a large number of unused trait combinations – now, on the contrary, almost all trait combinations are filled. With Boudica having Aggressive/Charismatic, bright red hair and a mean look, who would want to cross her?
My own favorite new civ is probably the Khmer Empire. They strike me as the best civ for expansion and growth. Suryavarman is Expansive for cheaper Workers and Granaries, and also Creative. It means that you can probably get your second city up quicker (assuming you build a Worker before your Settler, so the Worker completes quicker) and you can immediately build a cheap Granary in the new city, without needing to spend time on a Monument for cultural expansion. The Baray, replacing Aqueduct, adds +1 food to the city. It may not seem like much, but while your cities are still small, that will be a useful boost to their growth....