Fashionably Late Review
Civilization: Revolution

By Jorge Figueiredo - August 13th, 2010

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When I first heard that they were going to make a console version of Civilization, I was taken aback; how were they going to take such an expansive premise and simplify it in an enjoyable way? Then I read that they were also going to bring it to the DS; my mind was blown. I recently picked up this title and tried it out in my daily travels on the TTC, and man, let me tell you, this game is hella fun!

The challenges in bringing this game to the small(er) screen are not insignificant; preserving the essence of the title is certainly the priority. Civilization: Revolution, like it’s older cousin, is a turn-based strategy about taking over the world. Choosing one of sixteen unique civilizations, you create an empire that will lead you to victory by fulfilling one of four conditions: domination (capture capital cities of your opponents), culture (obtain 20 ‘great persons’ and build the United Nations), economic (amass 20,000 gold and build the World Bank), and technological (research all technologies necessary to build and launch a spacecraft to reach Alpha Centauri).

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Each of the available civilizations that you may choose from has advantages (and subsequent disadvantages), adding a great deal of variety to your status at the beginning of the game. The main campaign places you at 4,000 BC and advances from there, bringing you to the modern era – if you survive – and beyond. Each turn represents a unit of time; during the early stages, for example, a turn consists of 100 years; in the modern era, 2 years pass during each turn. This is a great way to represent the development timelines relative to a position in history (or future).

At the beginning of every turn, you cycle through your available cities, building military and non-military units, buildings, World Wonders and roads;  your cities take advantage of resources around you, and structures that you choose to build can help your city develop, whether by wealth, technology or culture.

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Turns also involve moving units, attacking enemies, and scouting. Encounters with other civilizations usually results in dialogue, where you parlay your way into the good (or bad) graces of whomever you are talking to. At the beginning, everyone offers peace, which is fine enough; later on, things get trickier; much like the PC version of the game, picking the right thing to say is just as important as having a powerful army or productive cities.

Graphics-wise, the game is obviously not in the same league as the next-gen console versions of Revolution, nor does it approach the complexity of a Civilization IV on the PC. On the DS, though, the graphics are just fine, as the gameplay is really the most important factor when considering overall enjoyment. The battle animations are cute, and the overall appearance is great (especially on a DSi XL). Sound design is also good, with simple music and decent sound effects. Again – this isn’t going to knock your socks off, but it is a lot of fun to play.

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As turn-based strategy games go,  Revolution flows nicely. Turns do not take too long (once you complete your turn, the rest of your AI opponents perform their tasks), difficulty levels are reasonably accurate (you’re not going to get stomped on the easiest level, but watch the hell out for the most difficult one), and representation of civilizations is great (although, I don’t think the real-life Cleopatra wore an outfit quite like the one she wears in this game). Additionally, the game contains a number of great scenarios to play through that offer different challenges (if those are not enough, there is a weekly downloadable challenge); also, multiplayer allows you to pit your own skills against those of people from around the globe.

Firaxis did a great job re-engineering a successful turn-based strategy franchise into a portable powerhouse. One of my biggest beefs about Civilization (which really isn’t a beef) is that I couldn’t play it when I was away from my desktop. Well, now I can!

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    2 responses so far:
  2. Posted on Aug 15, 2010

    You have to play it on the iPad. Other than for reading comics and the odd web site, the only real use I have for the iPad is for Civ Revolutions.

  3. I would have to get an iPad first. :)

    In any case, it’s so awesome to be able to have this as a portable title. I’m taking a break from it for a while. I think I have played it through on at least 3 levels of difficulty along with some scenarios.

    My other DS games are getting jealous.

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