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Posted on Sep 22, 2006 in Electronic Games, Front Page Features

Civilization 4: Warlords Expansion – Game Review (PC)

By John Tait

It’s interesting that, given its title, Warlords doesn’t seem any more bellicose than the vanilla game. A frequent complaint on Civ 4 discussion boards, that the game rewards peace, love, and understanding more than aggression, will probably continue. Especially late in the game, it’s far easier to kill through kindness than conquest, bludgeoning enemies into cultural submission with Starbucks and Hollywood or bankrupting them with trade agreements and high-minded UN resolutions rather than winning with tanks and stealth bombers (hey, that’s kind of realistic). The game’s clear defensive advantage, with limits on city bombardment, increased post-occupation resistance and questionable balance issues (fortified spearmen still take out the odd tank) result in deadlocks and cold war impasses. In Warlords, it’s no easier, even with stacks of new special units and a Warlord or two, to blitz from city to city like in the good old days of Civ 1 and 2. While to the game’s credit, other kinds of conquest are just as fun (ie. religious) the more sanguine gamers may be a little let down by the lack of easy carnage.

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Where this expansion really earns its keep is in its scenarios. While the sandbox mode and multiplayer seem to be gamer favorites, Warlords does offer enough range in its new scenarios — from Chinese unification to the campaigns of Alexander and Ghengis Khan to the Rise of Rome to a few more baroque selections like Omens, a supernaturally themed riff on New World colonization — to remind us of just how much there is to the game beyond the obvious. The most fun scenario of all may be the Barbarians mod, which allows the player to finally take charge of those lovable miscreants and wreak havoc on the civilized world. Most of Warlord’s scenarios have modified tech trees and new units, and a number, to my surprise, feel like entirely new games. Here Firaxis proves what it claimed when vanilla Civ 4 came out, that the game’s easily mod-able nature meant almost limitless possibilities.

Gamers who want something revolutionary should wait for Civ 5, but Warlords, despite my small reservations, is certainly worth picking up. If, like me, this is something you needed to feed the addiction or if you simply enjoyed the original release and want more of the same, it’s a smart buy.

Armchair General Rating: 85%

49/60 — Gameplay
19/20 — Graphics
09/10 — Sound
08/10 — Documentation and Technical

Pros: An excellent selection of scenarios and some fun new units and wonders.

Cons: New features don’t substantially change gameplay, and military conquest is still difficult.

Bottom Line: Warlords is a solid, if unsurprising, expansion on a great game.

Author Information

John Tait teaches fiction writing in Denton TX , and likes to relax with complicated and maddening PC games.

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