Way back in 1991, PC publisher Microprose released Sid Meier's Civilization, and some fans still haven't slept since. The game is widely considered to be one of the greatest PC games of all time. Now with three sequels plus expansions for each, multiple ports, and even a rather fine board game under the series' belt, 2K and Firaxis are taking the franchise where no original Civ title has gone before - the console. Shoddy PC to console ports aside, Sid Meier's Civilization Revolution is the first game in the series to be built from the ground up with game consoles in mind.
Will this new direction bring all-night Civ sessions to the console crowd, or should it be put to bed early? Get the verdict from the reviewing public, after the jump.
You can't play Civ Rev like Civ. The underlying systems are the same, if hugely (and at times brutally) simplified, but where its PC siblings could, to a certain extent, be played at your own pace, this sticks army ants in your bed. If you try to sleep, you'll be eaten alive. It keeps moving at all times, and if you don't move with it you won't get anywhere. That said, the lowest couple of difficulty settings are almost hilariously forgiving, but you'll very quickly want to graduate to a more challenging one. Even if you're specifically aiming for an economic, cultural or technological victory, be prepared to shed some blood along the way.
There are drawbacks to the new approach. As we said the world map is small, but at times it feels way too small. It seems like an oversight that the game doesn't allow players to generate custom maps that are bigger. And despite the world being tiny, it's sometimes hard to get an overview of what's going on because the camera's distance to the action is fixed in place. It's kind of like only being able to play PES on the short camera view. Sometimes you need to switch it to wide in order to see more of the playing field.
If you're new to Civ's turn-based world, the abundance of information at the beginning of a game can be daunting — and even more so for your chosen civilization's different opening gambits. Revolution does a great job of appropriate hand-holding, with its array of cartoon advisers and "Civilopedia," which contains a wealth of strategic and operational knowledge, accessible at any time. So, when your first Settler unit establishes the capital city in the opening turns, you'll be in good shape for the Manifest Destiny that's to follow.
Civilization Revolution is a standout strategy console game that successfully straddles the line between hardcore and casual. But after spending many hours with the game, I found myself wanting just a bit more depth, which I suppose is the inherent pitfall of bringing one of PC gaming's deepest experiences to a console with both input and hardware limitations. True, I could get in and out of a game with relative ease, but I also didn't have the option to micromanage my workers (there are production settings, but they are quite basic) or embark on an epic campaign.
...the game can be too short, and too small, and in some cases a little rough, but what Firaxis needed to do if this game was to ultimately succeed was take that core Civilization experience – the discovery, the advancement, the combat, the diplomacy – and ensure that even a streamlined version of the game still had you up at 3 in the morning, telling yourself you'll just have "one more turn". Which it does.
Looks like many more sleepless nights are in order.