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Civilization Revolution Review

Civilization Revolution pack shot
Developer:Firaxis
Publisher:2K Games
Genre:Strategy
Platform:Xbox 360
Official Site:http://www.civilizationrevolution.com/
Release Date:June 13th, 2008 (UK)
Reviewer:Craig Laycock (Cragtek)
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I love strategy games. There's one very good reason why: with strategy games, you control everything. If you fail, only you can carry the can. You can't blame the tools. If you succeed, the knowledge that you've pulled something off against the odds is exhilarating, and that's why I'll always come back to strategy gaming again and again.

You might have heard a bit of the furore amongst Civ fanboys following the news that developers Firaxis were working on a console title. Thousands of ardent Civ fans went on the rampage all over the net, adamant that a console iteration of the popular series would dilute the gameplay and destroy the franchise. They felt Sid Meier had sold out, that he cashed in his chips like so many others in the past and went all mass-market on our asses. Well, yes, he did - but it was a masterstroke.

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Civilization Revolution is essentially Civ without all the boring bits that 95% of gamers ignore. Gone is the tedious micromanagement - this is frenetic non-stop Civ action. But does the game lose something for that? Well, no. The fanboys would argue that a layer of intricate strategy has been removed, resource management snatched from their grasps. I would argue that instead, the strategic experience has been refined, purified and brought to the boil in a high-tempo all-action saucepan. They sell them at Tesco.

For those out there who are still unsure what the Civilization franchise is all about, I pity you, but will strive to enlighten you. The series, originally based on a board game (as all good strategy ideas seem to be), involves you settling cities, waging war and dominating the world by building a mighty Civilization (clue was in the title). But the jewel in Civ's crown is that it fits the player like a glove. If you don't fancy taking over the world you can quite happily set up shop in some dark undiscovered corner of the world and busily go about researching technologies and win the game by becoming the first nation in space. Or perhaps you'd prefer to build a bustling commercial empire and win an economic victory by founding the World Bank? Think of it as Risk on crack. So how best to think of Civ Rev? Well, Civ on crack I suppose.

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Trust me: this game loses NOTHING by going to console - and this is far from being a straight port. A whole new interface has been designed, complete with amazingly detailed 3d rendered advisors - the only downside is you go through that many menus while playing the game you rarely get chance to take these in, it's just a case of clicking and knocking them off the screen. But it doesn't get annoying, it adds to the atmosphere. Heck, I based my decision not to invade Russia on the sole basis that I thought the leader Catherine was hot. The pace is unrelenting though and I was quickly punished for not taking the initiative when the Red Army tanks rolled in.

This is 'pick up and play' Civ at its best… and I haven't got to the best bit yet - multiplayer. While the single player is entertaining, the early difficulty levels are too easy and the higher ones too hard. Replay value becomes an issue, which is resolved in part by a Game of the Week feature - a game scenario which you can download each week and compete with other gamers to score the highest single-player score. It's good for a while, but online is where the real fun is to be had.

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Online gameplay is fast, fun and frenetic. Finally we have a Civ where it doesn't take 50 years to play a multplayer game. You can jump right in to the action and even set a timer to stop play getting out of hand. Those of us with seemingly little free time these days will certainly appreciate it. The game itself handles brilliantly online - you can play team-based games, head-to-head or just an out-and-out free for all. War is constantly at your doorstep and you'll be forced to think on your feet. And you DO have to think - this isn't dumbed down at all, merely streamlined.

I have to give a special mention, too, to the Civlopedia. In it isn't quite the sum total of human knowledge, but it's a fantastic interactive encyclopaedia, guiding you through the game's mechanics and also the historical figures and great thinkers involved. There's video and pictures and some terrific text - a lot of work has gone into this and I'm delighted to see it's made it to this version of the game.

Summary

I wouldn't hesitate in recommending Civ Rev to anyone. If you love the Civ games, you really should buy it regardless of the fact that it's a bit more accessible - it's still great fun and, at its heart, Civ through and through. If you're new to the series, there's no better place to get stuck in and learn the mechanics of the game and find out what you've been missing out on all these years. Civilization Revolution is an absolute stand-out title on the Xbox 360 and I applaud Firaxis for bringing Civ to a wider audience. Sold out? You must be joking.

And remember: if you fail at Civ Rev, only you can carry the can. If you succeed, the knowledge that you've pulled something off against the odds is exhilarating. It's why I love strategy.

The bottom line
8.5 / 10

Good stuff

  • Easy to get into
  • Rule the world
  • Still Civ through and through

Not so good stuff

  • Brilliant animations sometimes wasted
  • Fast paced action won't suit the more laid back Civ players


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