|* Awarded Extreme Gamer's Best Strategy Game of '08
The legendary Sid Meier’s Civilization franchise has made its translation onto the next generation consoles thanks to an outstanding effort by long time developer Firaxis games. In this streamlined version of Civilization it takes on the suitable title Revolution as it prepares gamers for revolutionary strategy game experience.
If you don’t mind loosing a few hours of sleep, you need put Civilization Revolution on your gaming grocery list for definite games to pick up. The praise for this long running franchise is notorious by now considering it has been highly successful since its first edition in 1991. When it comes to power trips, building empires, and ruling the world, no game does it like '"Civ". I’m a long time Civilization fan that has been playing the PC games steadily since I discovered the first Civilization years ago. Yes, I am dating myself (MS-DOS) and declaring fanboy status which makes me extra curious to see how Firaxis Games (Alpha Centauri, Pirates!) approached the development of Civilization as a dedicated console game and not a PC port.
Keeping it Simple
Interesting enough the answer to making a Civilization game for console gamers was dumb it down, streamline the action while keeping the control straight forward and controller friendly. In this respect Civilization Revolution is a little quicker, simple to control and a breath of fresh air in the console gaming scene. It might be a little hard for Civilization old timers to swallow, but stick with me a bit and you might find yourself interested in what the wizards at Firaxis have cooked up. Things change and thankfully Firaxis won't be abandoning their PC roots for console cash as they have already announced Civilization: Colonization will be released in the near future.
The Ultimate "God" Game
Starting from the top I'll get into Civ slowly for gamers who aren’t too familiar with the Civilization franchise. All the Civilization games are basically the same game with improvements inching up in each new edition of the game. In basics "Civ" is a strategy “god” game where you take control of a nation of people raising them from early BC all the way up into the year 2000 and beyond. The goal of the game is to be the most dominant nation in the world by asserting your power through a number of clearly outlined objectives. Winning the game can be achieved through many different means, but you will eventually have to settle on one. Here is a rundown on the ways to victory in Civilization Revolution; Technology, becoming the most technology advanced civilization by sending a large group of people out into the galaxy in a habitual space ship. Culture, having a culturally advanced civilization with a high civilized population count; Commerce, making the big bucks and the mega bank and lastly, Domination! Ruling the world with an iron fist rolling over your competitors with a tyrant war machine, take over five nations capital cities and the game is yours.
Hit up the King
If "Civ" is starting to sound a little confusing don’t worry about being ambushed with hardcore tactics with a thousand button presses to memorize. Firaxis has done a great job including an easy to follow tutorial for all those who are new to the game, or for those needing a refresher. Civilization isn’t an overly complex game on the surface, although if you want a challenge and can surly offer up one hell of a fight. Beating the game on the default difficulty level is almost a joke, so you will need to crank her a few notches to hit the King difficulty to start a challenge. If you are really brave you can try and take on Sid’s masterful artificial intelligence in the higher levels that max in the appropriate named, Deity level.
The Balance of Power
Playing “Civ” is actually easy... you start by exploring your surroundings, upgrading you cities and building the necessary buildings or functioning units. The goal is to build a strong and sable civilization as you go for your preferred method of victory. At times "Civ" feels like a board game like Risk with a little more detail. It is important to learn which each building will do for your civilization and how to use the proper military forces with your attack strategy. For cities building structures like barracks are important to produce veteran units and aqueducts are vital for city growth. In the war zone you want to factor in a units defensive, attacking and movement ability. For instance, Horseman can move farther than Archers, but don’t have strong defence like the archers. You’ll also have to look at the upgrade factor which can be activated by creating the great wonder Leonardo’s Workshop.
Pop Goes the Napoleon
The team did a great job mixing action with presentation to make a game that seamlessly flows from micro-management to all out war. Civilization Revolution might seem to be a little cartoonish given the overhauled approach to the graphics, but this only a ploy to get more gamers into the game. Behind the voluptuous leaders and comical sim-talking characters, there is a decent strategy game. The pop-up cartoonish look of the graphics is an interesting take on Civilization that works well when translated to the consoles. Firaxis wanted "Civ" more accessible for a wider audience and the graphic overhaul sure works. It’s nice at times to loosen the mood when the games subject matter of this nature. Besides the pop-up characters, "Civ" handles the action nicely with little lag or loading screens. Once you in the game that is pretty much it besides checking out the offerings that you can receive from other kingdoms.
Your Nation Representing
The countries that have been represented in Civilization Revolution range from Cleopatra (Egypt) and Queen Elizabeth I (England) to Genghis Khan (Mongolia) and Julius Caesar (Rome). Each of the 16 different civilizations start the game with certain abilities that bring some strategy elements into play when you are going for a specific victory. This ranges from bonuses from the land to specialized units that usually provide a definitive militaristic edge. For an example you might want to think ahead and use Lincoln (America) if you want to optimize your production in the modern era, America gets a boost of 3x production in the modern era. If a strong military approach is you theme then maybe Queen Elizabeth should be your leader with a bonus to defence for for archers in ancient times, a naval bonus in the medieval times and modern naval support is doubled. The world is also inhabited by computer controlled barbarians who are war loving savages that provide a good source of gold once defeated.
...and they all fall down
This brings me to one of the coolest aspects of Civilization which is the scale of the game. It’s always a trip to be fighting, or defending against a more advanced civilization. I’m not talking about guerrilla warfare vs. a billion dollar army, I’m talking about having Roman Legions vs. Tanks, or clubs wielding savages against the might of a horsed knights in armour. Civilization can play out in a limitless amount of situations; the variables are down right staggering. Over all the years, I’ve been playing; rarely do I have the same cookie-cutter experience which is like printed gold for a console game. Sure, Civilization does get a bit repetitive in the core experience, so thankfully you can divert time away from the bare-bones single player game to enjoy some 4 on 4 multiplayer, or even some of the supplied scenarios.
It's all in the Tech
The reason you can get this leap on your enemy is by researching new technologies. These play out in a complex tech tree that starts with the basics like Bronze Working, Alphabet, and Ceremonial Burial. From there you look upwards to other discoveries like Democracy, Construction, Feudalism and Combustion. Then it’s into the future with Advanced Flight, Atomic Theory, Space Flight and Networking. Besides getting the obvious advantages that learning a new tech provides, Civilization Revolution also gives out bonuses to the first nation to discover each tech. This isn’t applied to every single advance, but it does come in handy when you get a free submarine unit for discovering electricity, or a nice chunk of change knocked off the cost of factories when you discover communism. The tech tree and how you climb its branches is one of the most interesting aspects of civilization that takes the very basics of life and shrinks them down into game form.