Genre: Strategy Developer: Firaxis Games Publisher: 2K Games Classification: TBC Release Date: 30th Jun 2008 Platforms:PS3XBOX360
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The Good bits
It’s Civilization, Jim, but not as we know it
Colourful, cartoony and perfect for its target audience
The AI has the brains to challenge seasoned veterans of the game
The Bad stuff
The tutorial leaves out some vital information
Some hardcore Civ players might be frustrated at the simplified choices
It’s spelt Civilisation
It’s clear from the get-go Firaxis intended Civilization Revolution to be a gateway game to its more complex siblings. They want the younger crowd to get hooked on Civ Rev so by the time Civ V comes out they’re already addicted. It’s an aggressive marketing strategy – sort of the “Fads” lollies of turn-based strategy games.
= as = ?
Civ Rev has bright colours and cartoony characters, easy to learn technology trees and simplified building options. So with that said, why does a self-confessed Civ fan enjoy what is essentially a dumbed down version of the game he loves?
Civilization Revolution still keeps the core gameplay elements intact. Almost everything it trades away to increase user friendliness is expendable, like your warrior army – sure you might prefer to keep the unit, but losing it weakened your opponents defences, allowing you to capture their city.
At the heart of Civ Rev you are still commanding one of the world’s greatest civilisations. You choose your leader from one of 16 greats – Julius Caesar, Genghis Khan and Shaka Zulu are a few – after which it’s your mission to expand across the known world and become the greatest civilization ever... however you see fit. You decide on every facet of your countries development, taking it from the Stone Age all the way up to the Space Age – you research technology, build armies and cities and control your cultural expansion.
The Zulu clan ain't nothing to mess with
It’s a turn-based strategy game – you make all your units’ moves, followed by each of your opponents until the game rolls back to you. While the computer moves instantaneously you still have the luxury of planning out each of your moves – there are no penalties for taking your time.
The PC-based Civilizations feature extremely deep and involved tech trees and unit/building options. Civ Rev simplifies this to make it easier to pick up and play. There are fewer choices regarding what you can build/research but the game still explains your options thoroughly using the Civilopedia, the in-game encyclopaedia offering detailed information on which tech results in which buildings, and buildings for units.
Civ Rev’s Civilopedia, like those before it, details the historical significance of every single thing in the game – from the civilisations you command all the way down to the resources you can find throughout the game. The age group this game is aimed at might learn something without even knowing it.
Despite limited options compared to the PC games you’ll still find you have a fantastic amount of choice in carving your country’s progress through history. And if you’re worried about the idea of learning how to use all these options effectively, Revolution has your back there too… mostly. At the lowest difficulty level the game will give you the option of playing with an advisor who will take you through almost every facet of the game – this emphasises the parts he doesn’t take you through that much more.
No fleeting amusement
The advisor never provides detail on the city production screen where you can shift workers to focus on tech, population and industrial work. It’s once again a simplified version of the Civilization PC games’ worker distribution model and as such Civ PC players will be able to pick it up quickly – newcomers will have to work it out on their own instead. While knowledge of this screen won’t be necessary at the lower difficulty levels, players will have a snowball’s chance in hell if they try to ignore it against better AI. A quick look through the game book is devoid of any information on the screen.
The ramped up AI is where classic Civ players will get the most out of Civ Rev in fact – the game becomes a real challenge once you start to approach Emperor level and becomes nigh impossible at Deity level (the maximum).
It’s really the little things that both make and break Civ Rev however. The way each advisor shoves the other off the screen with a flurry of Simlish (Civlish?) obscenities. At least I assume it’s Simlish, mine’s a little rusty. It backs up the casual nature of the game and reinforces this game’s merits. On the downside, the game’s tendency to route your units away from conflict sometimes works against your intention to whip ass – so stay in control. .
I always choose Heavy!
Tiny things like this throughout the game will make you smile and cringe, but the overall result is the same. Civilization Revolution is a great game for both newcomers and old school players alike. It’s not the perfect Civ experience for either party, but the compromise is well worth your time. And heck, if it trains a legion of loyal Civ fans to convince Sid Meier to make a true Civilization V – bring it on.
We of course haven’t reviewed the multiplayer part of the game yet – though you might recall we experienced a hands-on preview of it a short time ago. Hopefully we’ll get our hands on the MP version soon, so if you’re game to take on a master hit up my GamerTag Joaby for a match!