Before reading this, head to your next gen console of choice (Xbox 360 or PS3) and download the Civilization Revolution demo, if you haven’t already. Don’t debate with me, don’t stammer, just do it.

Good. Now, how fucking great is that?

I don’t think anyone expected Civilization to transfer well to consoles. The series is just too intricate, too much for most console gamers. Sid Meier (in his infinite wisdom) knows the tastes of console gamers and has simplified a whole lot of the game, but somehow done it without sacrificing anything that makes the game so great.

For anyone ignorant of the series (and really, what’s the matter with you?) the game involves you bringing a civilization up from the stone age to the modern age and beyond. There’s a ton of ways to go at the game, which allows it almost infinite replayability while also boasting the title of most addictive strategy game ever made.

The greatest thing this installment has done is completely streamlined the resource gathering system. You won’t have to worry about your workers gathering food and supplies, they’ll go about their business by themselves. You can still choose a certain thing for them to focus on, but eliminating the micromanagement here was a fantastic idea. Even building roads has been simplified to just clicking an icon. You now have great powers from the start, depending on which of the 16 historical characters you pick.

Also in the interests of speeding things up, in multiplayer you now take the turn at the same time as your opponents. Much better than going one by one. What does all of this mean? Well, rather than staying up all night playing one game for 10 hours until you’re surprised by the sunlight gleaming through your window, to beat the game will only take around 4-5 hours. There are now 5 ways to achieve victory; total domination, building the United Nations (cultural Victory), an economic victory by building the World Bank with 15,000 pieces of gold, and by launching a shuttle to Alpha Centauri (with a customizable space ship).

Speaking of multiplayer, there’s going to be all sorts of online options, like four player free for all, team matches, one and one and even co-op… all with leaderboards and video chat. There will also be mode dubbed “Game of the Week” in which you can download a new game setup every week and compete against everyone else for the best single player score. Sounds like an awesome way to keep up playing. .

The presentation is pretty slick as well. Historical figures show up on screen to talk to you, but don’t speak- instead talking a somewhat Sims-ish gibberish. But they’re very nicely animated and add quite a bit of personality to the characters. The graphics also look pretty fantastic… bright and almost cartooney but still fitting with the rest of the series.

So, the demo has definitely sold me on this new installment, and it’s immediately obvious that this is a worthy successor to Civilization 4. Firaxis has done a great job of keeping the core gameplay of Civilization intact, while allowing for far more people to be able to get into the completely addictive system. Add in the fact that it controls perfectly on the 360 (See! It can be done) and you’ve really got a must-buy for any strategy fan.

Expect Civilization Revolution to hit stores July 7th for Xbox 360, PS3 and DS. (DS? Yep, and apparently that version is exactly the same as its big console brothers, with graphics to fit the system, of course.) As for now… I’m going to keep playing that demo…