Civilization has always been the king of the turn-based empire building games, and its creator Sid Meier a bona fide deity in the gaming world. Civilization Revolution brings Civ style gaming to the console world for the first time, with pretty respectably results. Skillfully streamlined and cartooned up, this ain’t your daddy’s Civ, but it fits the bill as a brave new Civ for a brave new world. What are we going to do today? Why, the same thing we do every day. Try to take over the world!
For the uninitiated, Civilization is all about nurturing your fledgling culture from Bronze Age primitives to post-modern powerhouses while fending off other peoples intent on doing the same. Just as in previous games, you can win through a variety of means, be it brute force pounding, cultural assimilation, economic supremacy, or scientific domination. You build cities, research new technologies, and fight your wars through whatever means you see fit, because in the end only one civilization can end up on top.
On the PC, Civ could be a little daunting, and Civ Rev has gone a long ways towards smoothing the learning curve as well as truncating what could previously be marathon game lengths. For fans of earlier versions this is both good and bad news. The good news is this version of Civ definitely plays better and faster than before. No longer do cities have to be meticulously groomed by workers through irrigating and building roads on individual squares, thus removing a huge time sink of micromanagement. The tech tree has been smoothed out to play a little faster and make a little more sense, as have the military units. Slightly less variety, yes, but probably worth the cost for significantly crisper gameplay.
Where the cuts become a little deeper however is in the game options, and that’s where Civ Rev does finally start to feel a little watered down. For a standard game of Civ there is only one size of map, no terrain options, and no way to change the number of opponents. There are scenarios that alter some of the starting parameters, but they are locked in as well, with no room for customization. Multiplayer, while otherwise adequate, suffers from the same dearth of options, which is a shame considering how much more replay value even just a few ways to tweak your games would add.
At the end of the day, Civilization Revolution is almost exactly as advertised. It’s a simplified, slightly fluffy, considerably faster paced Civilization game designed for consoles. In that respect, it works very well. For new Civ gamers, it’s a great introduction to an all-time great gaming franchise. For Civ vets, it’s a little like playing speed Chess—some of the nuance is lost, but for a fun Civ game you can actually finish in a few hours it’s good clean family fun. More options would have been huge in adding a bit of spice to the repetition that sets in after a few games, but what comes in the box is good enough to recommend to anyone with a taste for a little strategy and a penchant for world domination.