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Best. Game. Ever.
Anything else I say now is really either detail or padding. Sid Meir's epic civilisation series began with Civilisation, which won probably most game awards going. Civ 2 improved on the formula and Civ 3, well, lets call that a misstep. Civ 4 on the other hand was a masterpiece, and it was hard to see how you could improve on it, but rest assured Beyond the Sword does.
On the off chance that you haven't heard of it (and unless your playing of computer games is restricted to just one genre, you probably will have heard of it) Civilisation is a game about taking a small tribe of stone age people, founding a city, building a nation, and leading them to their ultimate destiny, be it world dominance through war or politics, cultural immortality, or a space race to the stars. You control city development, scientific research, the military, politics and espionage. Beyond the sword is an expansion pack to Civilisation IV. So you will need to buy Civ IV first if you don't have it (and if you don't go buy it now! Seriously, don't even bother reading the rest of my review, just go get it...).
Beyond the sword then. Firstly there are new leaders and new Civilisations. This is in a sense the least of the improvements, but its nice to see. If eer you bemoaned the lack of a certain Civilisation or leader, this may fix that. Maybe.
Unique buildings, unique units. The game has added specialist structures, one for each Civ, that replace a standard feature, for example instead of a bank the English get the superior Stock Exchange. These add a little something extra to your choice of civilisation. It's worth noting here that this advance actually appears in the Warlords expansion too, so it is not unique to Beyond the Sword.
Of greater significance is the vastly improved espionage system. Previously espionage was always a little basic. The new system is a big improvement, offering more control and potentially a new front on which to contend with enemies.
Diplomatic relations are easier to follow with the imrpoved diplomacy interace, ad you noew have a much clearer idea of how much people like or dislike you and why. This is perhaps once of the best improvements, despite only really being a case of revealing certain in game data that already existed.
Additionally, there are scenarios. Some of these are interesting, some are just bewildering. Personally, I don't rate them greatly and have not played them much.
Finally, there are corporations. As your civilisation reaches the modern era you can found up to seven corporations, each with unique effects, and then spread them among your own cities or your enemies. I found corporations hard to master, but a welcome and intriguing addition to the game.
So, in summary then? I can play civ over and ver. There's always a new challenge, or a new route to victory, and Beyond the Sword is the cherry on the cake. Best. Game. Ever.
Until they bring out the next one.
Civilization 4 Beyond the Sword (BtS) is the newest release in the Civilization Universe and expands the game's modern/future era further.
The game requires Civilization 4 to play, but not the other expansion pack, Warlords, though be careful should you ever have both installed and then uninstall Warlords - you will then be unusable to play Beyond the Sword unless you uninstall that and reinstall it oddly enough.
Beyond the Sword comes with a large amount of new scenarios ranging from scenario in the strict sense as in a pre-made map and circumstance and fully fleshed out mods made by the game developers themselves. These alone promise countless hours of immersive gameplay.
The player in Civilization 4 initially needs to pick a game type (custom game/scenario vs default style game) and then pick the map they wish to play on and their own civilization (faction). If you chose a custom game, you also get to choose additional factors, such as what civilization your rivals play as, whether there are teams, the barbarian factor and much more.
New to Beyond the Sword is also the advanced start system (custom game) where you set an amount of "points" everyone starts out with and then spends before the game starts. This allows you to start in any era and then have a city or two to go with or maybe pick merely 1 city but several technologies or a mix.
Also new, there is now an events system. Every time your turn starts, there is a chance that an event occured. This can range from a forest fire (bad) to finding cryptic writings in a ruin to advance your science (good). These are to a large extent also tied towards where your borders stretch along and what resources and buildings you have built, promising a different flavor of events with every single game.
The goal of Civilization is to build a vast empire and win via 1 of 5 different means:
Domination (having the most population and landmass)
Conquest (defeating all your rivals=
Culture (3 cities with legendary culture status)
Space Race (being the first to reach Alpha Centauri)
Diplomacy (being elected Global Leader by all civilizations)
Beyond the Sword now costs a mere 10 pounds and together with the base game under 20 pounds. Considering the vast amount of offers out there, you are bound to be able to pick the whole set up for just over 10 pounds - a bargain.
With the 3.19 patch, the game also no longer has any DRM so you won't need a CD to play.
Civilization IV: Beyond the Sword is a hugely impressive expansion pack, adding further depth to already hugely immersive gaming experience.
Indeed the game is so complex at first it's difficult to engage fully with the games plethora of features; this would be a particular problem for gamers new to the Civilization series. Regardless of this it is a game well worth engaging with, the vast depth of the game will keep you entertained for literally hours and hours. The game play is unbelievably addictive; the combination of challenging problems and the potential for individual direction makes for game play that will never get boring.
The new features of this particular expansion pack include; new civilizations to play with, new in game features (corporation, new diplomacy settings and new units are but to name a few).
Personally I would recommend buying the 'Civilization Complete' edition, this included both 'Beyond the Sword' expansion pack and the 'Warlords' expansion pack, doing it this way will work out cheaper and provide you with a fuller civilization experience.
Civilization IV, the latest in Sid Meier's series of games covering the history of man from the ancient world to the present and beyond. Being a Civilization fan from the very beginning I can honestly say that this is by far the best looking Civ game ever, but one of the more challenging ones for beginners to the series to understand. Automation of workers, trade units, and scouts is included in this version and really simplify things quite a bit. Gone are the days where you have to tell your scouts where to move or workers what and where to build every turn, but the premise is still basically the same: build your empire and defend it from those who would take it from you while trying to destroy your enemies and trade with your friends for goods and technologies you don't currently possess.
You start the game in ancient times, as with all games in this series, and progress into modern times and beyond by researching technologies and building ever evolving structures and units. This time, however, a couple of new features have been added to enhance gameplay and add a new dimension to your strategy. There is now a small map at the bottom of the screen that can be used to view another part of the map from where your main view is focused so you can keep an eye on one spot while doing what you need to do in another part. Another very good addition is that you can now found religions and send out people to the other civs towns and convert its people to your religion. Get enough towns under your religious influence and that country may very well make your religion their own state religion, which in turn gives you extra money to work with as well as gives you an ally to help you defend your land. Later in the game you can found corporations which can be expanded to other towns and earn you more gold as well, provided you own the necessary resources it takes to keep the business going.
That's not all though, you now have scores of new buildings you can build to enhance your cities and units that can be used to protect them or gather special resources that give you bonuses as well. Several more "wonders of the world" are now at your disposal as well, giving you even more ways to take control of Cultural influence, which in turn might just cause cities from other countries close to your borders to revolt and join your side. Given the sheer size of the game and options available to you it would be very easy for a person new to the series to get lost in a hurry, but not to worry, you can enable tips that the computer can give you for what to build as well as many other things. This should be used by anyone who has never played the series before, or even someone who is just new to this game, because it is extremely informative and helps you to figure out things you might not have known on your own.
As i said i have been a fan of this series since the first club wielding barbarian was introduced in the original game for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System and it still took me awhile to adjust to all the new features of this game while trying not to get lost in the beautiful graphics it possesses, so if you buy the game and find it a little overwhelming at first dont give up because in the end it is well worth it when you finally get the knack for it. Just be prepared to spend some time with it though as it isn't an easy task for those of you that don't usually play games such as this.