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PLATFORM: Xbox 360, PS3, DS

ESRB RATING: E
DEVELOPER: Firaxis

PUBLISHER: 2K Games
 

THE PITCH


“It’s Civilization, dumbed down for console gamers!”

That’s really a cheap way of putting things. Sid Meier’s Civilization is long known as a hardcore game for hardcore gamers (just take a look at some of the older instruction booklets that were the size of a small novel), and fans didn’t know how this game could possibly work. After all, it’s the first in the series that Sid Meier and crew designed specifically for consoles. But the simple fact is that this game is worthy of the Civilization title, and is every bit as addictive and compelling as the PC iterations.



The gist of the game is that you’re the leader of a newborn Civilization, one of a
variety of real countries who you lead with former world leaders- everyone from Lincoln to
Genghis Khan to Cleopatra. You build cities, armies, and culturally important
buildings to attempt to get a leg up on the competition. You can win
in 4 ways; by destroying everyone else, by obtaining enough world
wonders and great people in your society to build the UN, amassing a
huge amount of money and making the world bank, or the coolest way-
building a spacecraft that will take your civilization to Alpha
Centauri.



Ok, fine, it sounds incredibly lame and geeky for anyone who’s never played it before, that much is true. But it’s one of the most addicting substances the world has ever known. (Seriously- heroin’s for pussies. Real men play Civ.) The thing about the game is that there’s so many ways to go at it that
winning once is not nearly enough. You’ll play this one again and again
and again. And again.



And again and again.

  


THE PLAY
 


The most amazing aspect of the game is how well everything controls.
It’s a console strategy game fer chrissakes, it’s not supposed to
control well! But it does, thanks to some really smart usage of both
analog sticks as selection tools. It’s almost too easy to cycle through the available units and check out the city maps. You’ll never fight with the controls to get around the map, and nothing’s more than a button or two away.
 

New players will not notice all of that, of course, and will instead be
immersed in the world and be amazed at all the fun they’re having.
There’s really no explanation for why the game is as fun as it is. I
suppose it appeals to the competitor in all of us, and the race to grab
up arms and world wonders before everyone else is something that
everyone can get hooked on. This game encourages combat far more than
the previous ones, but that’s ok with me. They’ve also made the nuke a
whole lot meaner. It’s fun to build the thing and watch everyone squirm
and try to make peace with you… and then leave one of their cities a
smouldering crater.
 


To the game’s credit, though, it’s almost just as entertaining to
build all the spaceship parts and send your civilization on its merry
way through the stars. But a lot of gamers who are familiar with the series will be put off by a lot of what’s missing here. Newcomers to the series, feel free to skip the next paragraph.

First off is how simplified the workers are. Actually, you can’t even build workers anymore. They’re included with every city, and you can choose what they do but it’s limited to setting their priorities to production, population growth, or science or gold harvesting. You can now build roads by simply paying for them at a city. It makes things simpler and lets you focus on the more important parts of the game. Another thing missing is some of the negotiation between the other civs. No longer can you barter for open borders or technologies- you can buy or sell from a set of techs and that’s it. There are a ton of other little features that are missing, but really, the streamlined nature of this game works for it so well that once you get used to it you’ll start loving the game just as much as the PC originals. Maybe a little more. After all, you won’t have to waste an entire day playing a game anymore, it’s not set up for games around 3 hours- the perfect playtime.



Civilization Revolution really is the logical progression for the series.


THE PRESENTATION

Definitely the best looking Civ game to date. The characters are all nicely animated and it never gets old watching your units fight. The leaders and advisers all have a great personality to them, but it’s here that will turn off the hardcore players of the series. The designs definitely veer on the side of cartoonish, compounded by the fact that they speak in a Sims-esque gibberish. But it works for the title and is far from a dealbreaker.



The sound and music is nice and epic, but there’s a couple of issues I’ve found with the sound levels. Once in a while when you achieve victory over another army or build a wonder the sound will jump up 100 notches in volume and threaten to deafen you. It’s happened to me a handful of times, and it’s pretty annoying as I keep my sound up pretty loud as is.

But otherwise, no complaints. This isn’t one to show your system off for, but it’s still Civilization.
 

THE REPLAY




Nothing but replay here. The game is set up for experimenting different ways to win the game and advance your civilization, and encourages repeat plays. Beating the game for the first time is just the beginning- you’ve got tons of different strategies and difficulties to butt heads with.

The game also offers online multiplayer, a very well designed 4 player game that smartly is a drop-in drop-out affair. That means that if you’re stuck against some punk kid who gets mad that you’re trashing his cities at the beginning of the game and bails you will be able to keep playing with that civilization taken over by the computer.

There’s also a “Game of the Week” feature that’s a great idea but a little weak in execution. Every single week a new scenario will be available, with you starting out as a certain civilization and playing on a predetermined map. You can play through and try to get the best score that week on the leaderboards. The only problem with this is that you’ve got idiots starting up games to find where everything is and then going back and playing until they manage to have everything swing their way and achieve victory in an obscenely short time. Cheaters always gotta ruin everything, eh? But it’s still a fun mode and a nice addition to the already robust-scenario mode.



And then there’s the Civiliopedia. I spent a few hours brushing up on my history in it. Yeah, yeah, laugh away. As silly as that sounds it’s a great feature and presented in a fun way, with lots of pretty pictures and videos for the slower among you out there.

But really, you won’t want to stop playing this one. Civilization players already know this- hell, there’s even a support group for addicts.
 


THE VERDICT


It took me two weeks to even start writing this review because every time I fired the game up for inspiration I found myself playing it all night. The best strategy game on consoles yet. I haven’t tried the DS version but from all reports people are astonished that it contains all the same gameplay as its big brothers.

If you’re in the mood for a different kind of console game, pick this bad boy up. Today.


9.0 out of 10