Game: Sid Meier’s Civilization Revolution
Genre: Real-time Strategy
Platform: PS3, XBox 360, Nintendo DS (Reviewed on 360)
This was probably the hardest review I’ve had to write in my time at Gamervision. It’s not that I couldn’t think of anything to say, I have plenty for you to read today. The simple fact is Civilization Revolution is one of the most addictive games I’ve ever had the opportunity to play, and I could barely pull myself away from trying to take over the world to eat, let alone write a review. Lucky for all of you I’m on vacation, and I have to share the TV with 10 other people (including several who’ve decided to embark on their own Civ campaigns). Needless to say, I have some time on my hands and I’d like to use that time to share my experiences in world domination.
Real-time strategy games are tough to pull off on a console. Generally the games are just ports of their PC counterparts, and the console control scheme turns out to be less than ideal. With Civilization Revolution, the team decided to create the whole game from the ground up specifically for consoles. Though there are a few concessions made in translation from the PC, the game is still holds true to most of its roots. There are four types of victories you can earn: taking over four capitals (domination), having 20 great people/wonders and then building the United Nations (cultural), earning 20,000 gold and building the world bank (economic), or being the first to reach Alpha Centauri with space flight (technological). While the computer version has 18 civilizations and over 25 different world leaders to choose from, the console has just 16 of each. Trying to attain all four types of victories on the console game’s five levels of difficulty more than makes up for the lack of playable leaders (especially for all us achievement hoarders). There’s a lot of micromanagement taken out from the PC versions, like worrying about trade embargoes or passing global war resolutions, but the game more than makes up for it in other ways.
Building a civilization from the ground up is a quick way to waste 4 hours of your life. The game will end either by you accomplishing one of the four types of victory, or by the game reaching the year 2100 AD. Sid Meier had said he wanted players to make it from the Stone Age to the Space Age in four hours, and he’s just about right. While I do have a problem with the game having a set amount of turns in it, the decision makes sense when you factor in the multiplayer. Since you can’t save your online progress, there has to be a definite end. Why this rule had to translate through to the single player, I don’t know, but it’s something I can forgive since the time I spend playing is so enjoyable. Having as much control as you do over an entire populace in intoxicating. Despite what anyone else will tell you, there is no game that matches Civilization Revolution in the “just one more turn” category. Whether you’re trying to complete building the Colossus of Rhodes wonder, or trying to churn out one more unit of Flying Fortresses to attack Paris, you’ll constantly find yourself putting real life on the backburner in favor of improving your pixilated populace. Partially because the game looks so vibrant and full of life, and partially because you’ve always wanted to rule the world. Of course, there’re all those other pesky civilizations out there trying to wipe you off the face of the planet, and prove they’re the greatest.
It’s almost impossible to keep peace treaties with every computer country out there. Not that that’s a bad thing. In fact, I will gladly trade technologies with any society until they start trouble with me. That’s when the world gets a true glimpse of the man 00.19 really is. Let’s face it, we’ve all got some sort of pent-up aggression we need to let loose in a healthy way. What could be healthier than having Aztecs lay siege to a town of pathetic Spaniards? Certainly, most pundits would find this more suitable than taking out a rival gang in “murder simulator” Grand Theft Auto IV. Of course, decimating your opponent isn’t always the most fun way to do things. In fact, there’re times where I just want the most civilized and scientific society out there. Is a city converting to your society because your German towns offer more culture than their Greek village more satisfying than rolling Panzers through the Elysian fields? I’m no expert, but I certainly think so. And before you even think about it, the Japanese will always beat you to space. Always. Don’t even try. I’m serious. Unless of course, there’s another human controlling them. Then all bets are off.
The game is easy to get a handle on, for sure. Every action pretty much consists of you either choosing to build units (settlers or military) or buildings (granaries, Wonders, etc), and then pressing the “A” button. You want to move a legion of archers? Pick a path and press “A.” Want to attack someone? Move within attack radius, put your cursor over them, and press “A.” It’s really that simple, and it helps to have a simple interface not only when competing against five computer opponents, but also when taking on real people across XBox Live. If the single-player campaign taught me anything, it’s to never trust any civilization that builds a city right on the outskirts of your town. This becomes especially true online. That guy that settled a village right next to your capital? Yeah, he’s just building a staging area for his massive army or Riflemen to come and flip you. For real. While it certainly is more fun to play with actual live humans, online Civ has some strange lag issues. The game itself runs smoothly enough, but you’ll run into synchronization issues from time to time, resulting in you having to wait and do nothing while the game catches up to you and your friends.
Ultimately, Civilization Revolution gives back as much as you put into it. It’s a wholly satisfying experience whether you play alone or online. Changing the history of the Mongols can eat up an entire Saturday morning. You’ll turn the game on when you wake up, and before you know it, dinner is ready. While your significant others may not appreciate just how great a world leader you are, the people of that little world inside your television will. Provided you don’t lose. If you’ve never played a real-time strategy game before, but were interested to see what one was like, this is without a doubt the best place for you to start. The simple interface, and relative ease of the first few tiers of difficulty will have you hooked in no time. Fans of RTS’s should take note of this game as well. It does a phenomenal job of bringing the PC experience into the living room. While the upper difficulties have a steeper learning curve, after a few days with the game, you’ll be fighting off the masses on all levels. Do I have what it takes to rule the world? I don’t know. But I can’t wait to finish writing this so I can find out.