If the previews of Gods & Kings are to believed, it is a fantastic game, perhaps even better than the masterpiece base game, Civilization V. Wait, what? Civilization V certainly wasn’t a terrible game, but doesn’t common knowledge dictate that it’s shallow and one-dimensional, especially compared to the other games of its linage? Is the press just ignoring this reality?
Let’s recap the last couple of years:
Firaxis released Civilization V in the fall of 2010, and the game received an enthusiastic welcoming from the press. In fact, you can count number of non-five-star reviews it received on one hand. It’s safe to say that virtually every writer loved the game.
When the fans got ahold of the game, however, they were not as kind as the press. Its strategy was horrendously unbalanced and one-dimensional compared to previous Civilization games, there were dozens of game-crashing bugs, the multiplayer hardly worked at all, and the AI and diplomacy was a mess.
The developers tried correcting these issues through a series of patches, but never could completely fix everything, probably because doing so would require completely revamping the new systems the game introduced.
Fans meticulously documented all of the weaknesses in Civilization V, but the commercial press never made a big deal about the issue. Apparently, fan outcries only make worthwhile stories when they’re about changing the ending of a BioWare RPG plot, as opposed to drastic changes to an RTS game’s actual gameplay. Regardless, it seems like more than just a couple of writers should have at least mentioned the fact that the supposedly new best strategy game actually sucked in a lot of ways.
Now we’re counting the days before Civilization V’s first huge expansion comes out, and once again the press are gushing over it. It’s a triple-A release, so naturally they love it, but that’s not what disturbs me. For some reason every new article refers to the base game as the fantastic five-star game that everyone claimed it was prior to its release. It’s as if every journalist who’s been told to write a piece about Gods & Kings is somehow oblivious to the fact that, for the past two years, there has been huge backlash against its base game, one which the developers themselves have publicly addressed and repeatedly tried to correct.
I simply don’t see how so many writers can get away with ignoring basic facts like these. It’s as if these previews are referring to a completely separate game, on a completely separate planet.