Review By: Nick Arvites
|# Of Players:||1-4|
|Accessories:||Xbox Live (online play)|
Civilization. The game series is as lofty and almost as complicated as the survey history course of the same name. The concept is simple: control a nation and guide them through history. Over the years and numerous iterations, the Civilization series has refined this concept to include more aspects of civilizations. The main franchise is currently on its 4th installment (with several expansion packs scattered across the landscape between main games) on the PC. While there have been a few attempts to bring the Civilization series to console gamers, they have often been met with indifference. The Civilization series has often been criticized by console gamers and PC RTS gamers for being too slow paced, too complex, and requiring too much micromanagement. Indeed, the series is known for a relatively high learning curve combined with long game lengths, so it is very understandable as to how almost everyone out of the 4X-strategy world could be intimidated or simply not interested in learning how to play Civilization.
Enter Civilization Revolution. The latest installment in the Civilization series took a dramatic step by making the game only available on the PS3, Xbox 360, and Nintendo DS. As the platform destinations suggest, Civilization Revolution brings a Civilization title built for console gamers. The interface has been stripped down and the core game mechanics and concepts have been simplified. In the pre-release hype, Civilization Revolution was reported to be geared more towards single-sitting matches instead of weekend long scenarios. As a reviewer, I really didn’t know what to expect from this title when it landed on my desk. I’ve been a longtime player of Civilization, and I realized that there’s a fine line between streamlining the series’ concepts to make it accessible and making this installment so simple and unchallenging that it would become the gaming equivalent of one of the substitute Happy Meal toys designed for two year olds. Civilization Revolution walks this line and mainly leans towards making the game accessible by everyone.
The best word to describe Civilization Revolution is “streamlined.” Much of the bulk has been sliced out of Civilization. This includes intricately customizing your world, cutting civilizations, simplifying the tech tree, overhauling bonuses, simplifying governments, and losing much of the in-game micromanagement that can confuse/lose even the most hardened Civilization players. Some of the changes are good, and some make the game a little too simple. For this review, I’m going to examine the specific changes from the PC series to this game. The core concept (you control a nation’s scientific-socio-economic-military destiny and seek to conquer the world through one of those concepts) is still good, and the game retains enough of the explore, expand, exploit, exterminate features to satisfy any strategy fan.
I think my favorite change is the streamlined city management options. In prior Civilizations, I found myself with an army of workers wandering the countryside making little improvements here and there. I’m a proficient Civilization player, yet I often found myself automating these tasks because they took forever to assign turn after turn. Civilization Revolution dumps this entire aspect of the game. Everything, including roads, is now conducted from city screens. You build roads from city-to-city instead of freely, which keeps everything organized and clean. Resource management out of cities is really reduced to focusing on money, food, or science. Everything else is automatic, although the gain from the various tiles is determined by improvements in the city (for example, a city with a harbor gets more out of the ocean). I really enjoyed this improvement to the Civilization interface, and I hope they port it over to the main series.
Civilization Revolution boasts a good helping of historical civilizations. While Civilization Revolutions may not have Carthage, the Celts, the Vikings, or Koreans, the list is composed of most of the major historical civilizations (at least in a Euro/American-centric sense). Unlike the PC counterpart, each Civ only has one available leader and thus only one set of bonus traits. Bonus traits are based on scientific ages, and the traits are only unlocked if you survive to the designated age for that particular trait. Each Civ also has a handful of Civ-specific units, although they are simply a new skin on an existing unit.
Posted: 2009-01-06 21:41:16 PST