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Sid Meier's Civilization IV: Warlords PC CD-ROM

Published by 2K Games
Developed by Firaxis Games
Release Date: Out Now
Price: £19.99

Sid Meier's Civilization IV: Warlords, an introduction.

Without a shadow of a doubt the best PC game we saw last year was Sid Meier's Civilization IV . The fourth version of the classic game saw the series move into a 3D environment and stripped away some of its complexity to make the game more accessible than any previous title in the series. This was all done without sacrificing any of the game's depth so essentially you had a game that appealed not only to the hardcore Civ fans but newcomers who had previously not given the series a second look. Here we have the first expansion for Civilization IV, Sid Meier's Civilization IV: Warlords.

What's the game about?

Civilization IV: Warlords offers pretty much what you would expect from a Civilization expansion as well as a few extra additions. Six new civilizations (Carthaginian Empire, Celtic Empire, Korean Empire, Ottoman Empire, Viking Empire and Zulu Empire are the new inclusions). Some of the original civilizations have received additional leaders. New Wonders of the World have been included. There's some new buildings for each civilization and a new Great General unit has been added. Not forgetting of course the sprinkling of additional scenarios, the Pit Boss online gaming system and game play tweaks that have been released (through updates available online) since the release of the original Civilization IV.

What's good about the game?

I suspect most Civ fans will be picking up Warlords for the extra civilizations (and maybe the scenarios too) and these new civilizations are actually enjoyable to play as. The game now features a Great General Unit. This unit is automatically generated when you acquire a certain number of combat experience points. You can use the Great General Unit in a variety of ways. You can have him join a city as a Great Military Instructor and units in that city will receive +2 experience points. You can have him construct a military academy in one of your cities, which will give that city a +25% production bonus. Finally you can turn him into a Warlord by attaching him to a military unit which gives 20 experience points to the particular unit in question. The unit (or units) the Warlord is attached to gains free upgrades and special promotions to be the more powerful combatants.

As you might expect each new civilization in the game has their own special unit which replaces one of the game's stock units.  The Zulu have the powerful Impi unit (which replaces the spearman) whereas the Koreans have the destructive Hwacha (which replaces the catapult). New leader traits have been added too. These new traits are Imperialistic (+100% Warlord emergence and 50% faster production of settlers), Protective (Free Drill 1 and City Garrison 1 promotions  to archery and gunpowder units as well as double production speeds for walls and castles) and Charismatic (offers +1 happiness in all cities, +1 happiness from monument and broadcast tower). The existing leaders in the game have been slightly altered to take these new traits into account.  Four new leaders have been added to the existing civilizations. Winston Churchill (England), Augustus Caesar (Rome), Ramesses II (Egypt) and Josef Stalin (Russia).

Each civilization now has their own unique building. The Arabs have a Madrassa (replaces the library) which boosts research by 25% amongst other things whilst the English have the Stock Exchange which gives a +65% increase to wealth.  A stable (gives experience to mounted units) and a monument (replaced the obelisk which is now unique to the Egyptians) building is now available for all civilizations. New units include the Trireme and the Trebuchet (as well as a host of scenario specific units) and there are three new wonders of the world in the shape of The Great Wall, The Temple of Artemis and The University of Sankore. On the diplomatic side of the game it's now possible for overpowered civilizations to swear allegiance to their powerful rivals and become a vassal state. Of course given the right conditions it's possible for a civilization to free themselves from vassalage so it's by no means a permanent state of affairs.

Of course the new scenarios represent a large chunk of what Warlords has to offer. These scenarios play out rather differently from the default Civilization game and although they have, for the most part, a heavy bias to a more militaristic style of game play they are very enjoyable. The scenarios on offer are Alexander the Great, Chinese Unification, Genghis Khan, Peloponnesian War, Rise of Rome and Vikings. There are also two fictitious scenarios called Omens and Barbarians. Each scenario has its own artwork, special units and Civilopedia. Some of the scenarios are very different experiences. The Barbarians scenario for instance allows you to play as the Barbarians. You'll begin by choosing whether to let 40, 65 or 100 turns automatically play out (in order to let the AI civs establish themselves). Then you'll purchase your army units and any upgrades you desire for them (as you can see in the top screenshot). Finally you'll go on the rampage creating waves of terror amongst the AI civs. In fact The Barbarians scenario isn't really a fixed scenario at all and is in fact a new way to play the game. You even get to choose the map type and so forth before beginning the scenario. On the whole I found the scenarios to be very enjoyable with the Chinese Unification scenario (set during the warring states period) being a particular favourite and one that I will play over again.

What's not so good about the game?

As the name of the expansion suggests, Warlords is an expansion that primarily concentrates on conflict. The scenarios are mostly focused on combat and whilst the expansion is certainly a very good one, it's not going to please those that were looking for a more well rounded expansion that added significant elements to other areas of the game such as trade and diplomacy etc. Still we usually have a couple of expansions for each version of Civilization and I daresay the focus of the next Civ IV expansion will concentrate on these parts of the game. We noticed certain wonder movies didn't play when they should have but I daresay this is something that will be fixed in a future update. 

How does it look?

Aside from the new artwork and units that have been introduced for the new civilizations, scenarios and wonders there's no real change from Civilization IV which is to be expected as we are dealing with an expansion and not a sequel. If you haven't downloaded the various updates for Civilization IV you'll notice how the general presentation of the game has been spruced up a little. Setting up a new game for instance is less cluttered than it was in the original release of Civilization IV and more user friendly, which is a good thing.

How deaf gamer friendly is the game?

Civilization IV: Warlords is exactly the same as Civilization IV in regards to its deaf gamer friendliness which means the game is absolutely fine for deaf gamers. In fact the only omission was that the comments that your units make when you issue orders are not shown in text. All of the scenario information is shown in text and the objectives and new Civilopedia information is all text based. The expansion pack comes with a 100+ page manual that not only informs you of all the new content but also of the changes to the original civs that the new content has made. It's certainly very pleasing to see such a manual in an expansion pack as most publishers often throw in a pamphlet that's practically of no use at all.

Final thoughts.

Sid Meier's Civilization IV: Warlords is a great first expansion pack for Civilization IV. Fans of Civilization IV can't really go wrong with Warlords because even if scenarios aren't your thing the new civilizations are certainly worth having and the other new elements that have been introduced certainly work very well. The Barbarians scenario is not really a fixed scenario at all and offers an interesting and alternative way to play the game. Of course it would have been excellent to have seen other areas of the game such as trade and diplomacy receive more attention but on the whole it's an expansion that's very easy to recommend.

Overall Game Rating: 8.5/10

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Sid Meier's Civilization IV: Warlords is a worthy first expansion pack for the excellent Civilization IV. The new civs and scenarios are very enjoyable inclusions and the other additional content helps to refine the normal game.