History Re-Written (Civ4 mod) review…

Because turning the volume down from 17 to 14 is still loud… After the break…

History Re-Written (Civ4 mod) review…

The computer game “Civilization 4” (often abbreviated as “Civ4”) is like crack cocaine to me; Gosh forbid that I accidentally do something as stupid as put that disc into my PC because, the next thing that I’ll know, it’s eight hours later and I’m wondering why I still can’t get my civilization up to the point where they can enter the ocean.

Lately, I have been modding out Civ4 to give myself a new perspective about how the “hardcore” Civ4 players play the game. Apparently, Civ4 players just love themselves a huge heaping of extra technologies (think of them as “upgrades” to your civilization, such as discovering the wheel) and completely scrapping the gameplay to make it oh-so-much more harder. It has gotten to the point where I’ve realized that I’m probably nowhere near as “hardcore” a Civ4 player as these folks are.

I previously played the Civ4 mod “Caveman2Cosmos” which starts you off so early that you feel as though your civilization just accidentally touched the black monolith from the movie “2001: A Space Odyssey.” No offense but I’m not interested in playing a mod where it proverbially takes eight hours of gameplay before you discover things like “the wheel” (although, to be certain, I do sort of miss “Mega-Bear!” see previous review for reference).

I thought that I would turn down the “hardcore”-ness a notch with something like “History Re-Written,” which is another supposedly all-encompassing Civ4 mod written by someone called “Xyth” (most likely not his or her real name but the Internet is a global thing so… Who knows).

Just as with “Caveman2Cosmos,” “History Re-Written” (v1.22 was the version that I played) is sizable but, unlike “C2C,” you won’t need the hour-hand on your pocketwatch to download, install or run the game. History Re-written still takes a bit more time to perform actions as opposed to a standard “Beyond The Sword” Civ4 game but, compared to C2C, it’s a veritable speed demon. Once more, more of everything is added: More technologies, more civilizations, more “traits” (think of those as the ‘personality’ of a civilization, such as whether they are expansionist or financial), more national wonders, more world wonders, more… Everything.

On the surface, I was thoroughly impressed with “History Re-written.” To be completely fair, it is still a work-in-progress; Some descriptions in the Civilopedia (think of that as an in-game instruction manual) and some of the new technologies aren’t voiced. What is there, though, is quite impressive. Yet, once more, in my opinion, it goes one step too far in complicating the typical Civ4 gameplay.

I’ll be the first to admit that I just don’t “get” religions in Civ4 gameplay. I understand that, since we have religions in real life, religions ought to play some role in Civ4 as well. It seems as though the stock opinion of Civ4 enthusiasts would be that religion ought to be far more integrated into Civ4 gameplay and History Re-written takes that sentiment to heart. Unlike in a standard Civ4 game, religion is practically essential and woe be it the civilization that shrugs off their religious duties. For instance, the options that you choose for religion determines whether or not your civilization can use stone or marble(!). Sure, you could build all of the quarries that you want but, without the proper civics in the religion section (which acts like a second government civics section), you won’t be able to use that stone or marble.

Also, you do not discover religion through discovering technologies but through the formation of Great Priests (or prophets, I can’t remember) that seem to occur once ever nine-trillion years or so. So, if you want your society to discover a religion such as Christianity, you’ve only got a few shots at doing so before people start wearing suspenders and riding around in ford Model T automobiles. And discovering religion in “History Re-Written” gives an enormous boost to your cultural rating.

There are a lot of nice things about “History Re-written” but the hip-deep integration of religion into the mod’s gameplay is a huge letdown for me. I get it; There are some people out there who are Jesus Freaks or Mohammad Freaks or Buddha Freaks and pity those people who might suggest that the development of these (or, for that matter, any other) religions were the end-all-be-all for all of humanity. However, I just can’t wrap my head around needing religion in order for your civilization to use stone or marble; I can’t make that logistical leap. If my civilization can build a quarry, it ought to be able to use stone. Why not just link the ability to even make a quarry with whether or not you have that (or some equivalent higher) particular religion civic?

In the end, “History Re-Written” is a lot closer to what I want from an “ultimate Civ4 mod” – It has a lot of extra civilization, wonders, units and the whatnot. The whole emergence of importance of religion is a huge turn-off for me and merely adds a lot of unnecessary complication to a game that already has plenty of it. To use a pop culture analogy, if Spinal Tap famously turned the volume up to 11, Caveman2Cosmos turned it up to 17 and History Re-Written turns it down to around 14. That’s still a little too loud for my tastes but at least it isn’t bone-shattering blasting as with C2C. Everyone’s tastes, though, are different and I’m sure that there are a lot of people who love themselves a mighty complex Civ4 gameplay. I’m still searching, though, for that happy medium of just complex enough.

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