Civilization Revolution Review

As the clich√© goes, it’s hard to make a strategy game on consoles. Many have tried, and all but a very select few have failed. Even the classic PC franchises have time and time again struggled on their console outings, with poor controls and poor porting ruining what was once an awesome gaming experience. One of PC gaming’s most popular and storied franchises, Civilization, recently tried to make that very leap where so few have landed gracefully. And as many said before its release, if anyone could find a way to make it work, Sid Meier could.

For those who aren’t familiar with Civilization gameplay, the idea is simple: take a nation, and build it up from its beginnings to become a world power. Like real life, there are multiple avenues one can take to achieve power in the world, ranging from the military to economy. If that doesn’t give you an idea of how the game works, think SimCity meets (insert mainstream RTS game here). There’s been nothing like Civilization on current consoles, so the gameplay mechanics and focus will be entirely new for many gamers.

We all already know that one reason PC strategy games tend to fail on consoles is that they just weren’t designed with them in mind. To combat that, rather than tweak a port out of the traditional Civilization engine, the developers of Revolution created an entirely new game from the ground up, designed specifically for a console gamer. One way to make it more intuitive for consoles is the simplicity of the control scheme. Without a mouse to move around, the game is instead retooled to picking options and then pressing a button. (A or X depending on which console you’re playing on.)

While the controls have been tweaked and the engine has been made more console friendly, one aspect which was untouched is the addictive nature of the game. Until MMOs came out, there has never been a game causing as much late nights as Civilization. It epitomized the mantra of “One more turn!” on the PC, and on the 360 and PS3 it brings that quality to an entirely new audience of gamers. While you can easily turn it on, get some stuff done, then go out and shop for groceries, a much more likely scenario is turning it on, saying you’ll go get groceries in half an hour, then say you’ll go get them in ANOTHER half an hour, and then realizing the stores have been closed for three hours.

The reason it’s so addictive is because of the rewards felt when building a civilization. You can win through four methods (domination, cultural, economical, and technological). Alternatively, if no winner is decided by the time the game reaches the year 2100 AD, the game comes to an end. Sid Meier designed Revolution with the idea that no game should last longer than four hours (in part due to online play), and he’s right on the money in terms of length.

There’s little doubt that the game is meant to indoctrinate those unfamiliar with the series and turn them on to it. In that regard, it does a great job because it’s very console-gamer-friendly. Unfortunately, for those who have been diehard Civ fans the game offers little in terms of innovation. And while the game can be enjoyed and understood by regular gamers, those unfamiliar with general gaming concepts might be confused by some of the vague wording on effects and advances, as there’s really no way to get the game to explain what it means in greater detail.

Still, there’s no denying that as far as console strategy games go, Civilization Revolution is easily one of the top titles. It may not be as deep or entertaining as the PC counterparts, but it’s still one hell of a game, and it will still cause thousands of people to lose out on sleep.


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Author: Brendon Lindsey View all posts by

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