Sid Meier's Civilization Revolution Xbox 360
Published by: 2K Games
Developed by: Firaxis Games
Release Date: Out Now
Aside from a version of Civilization II that appeared on the PlayStation, the Sid Meier's Civilization games have largely been a PC only affair. Given how superb the Civilization games have been and given the increasing popularity of games consoles, it was only a matter of time before a Civilization game appeared on a console. Of course it would not have been a good idea to simply port Civilization IV to the consoles for a variety of reasons. Instead Sid and the team at Firaxis have created Sid Meier's Civilization Revolution, a new Civilization experience that takes advantage of the hardware of the 360 and is arguably one of the finest console strategy games to date.
If you haven't played a Civilization game before you're probably wondering what all the fuss is about. The Civilization games are turn-based strategy games where you take your chosen nation from their humble beginnings (you'll have a settler that can found your first city and a warrior unit) through the ages and right to the point of man launching into space heading for Alpha Centauri. During that time you'll found new cities, research new technologies that will have a profound effect on your nation, engage in diplomacy and wars with other nations and much, much more. The Civilization games are infinitely replayable and are famed for their addictive qualities.
Civilization Revolution is essentially a streamlined version of the PC Civilization games with a fair amount of new content added to make the experience a fresh one for those who have devoted months to the previous Civilization games. You can choose to jump straight into a game with four AI opponents selecting one of the five difficulty levels with the first two of these being squarely levelled at newcomers to the Civilization series. There are 10 scenarios for you to choose from when you want a slightly different experience. Fancy seeing if you are the best Civilization Revolution player on the planet? Well you can thanks to the Game of the Week mode which offers a different game every week for everyone to play. Once you've finished your score is posted on the leaderboard and you can see how you compare with others who have played. Xbox Live modes include Player and Ranked games. System Link games are also supported.
So what's similar and what's different in Civilization Revolution? Well the first thing you'll notice is that you don't get a chance to pick which map type to play on. You're not given a choice because there is only one map type (obviously the design of the map is different for every game you play). If you opt to jump into a Play Now game you'll simply choose a nation to play as from the sixteen on offer and each of these has their own special units and bonuses meaning each of them are interesting and quite different to play as. Once you've picked your nation the game will begin. Choosing to setup a new single player game is a similar process only you'll get to choose one of the five difficulty settings (Chieftain, Warlord, King, Emperor and Deity). Even in a single-player game you'll only be up against four AI opponents which will initially seem a little disappointing. Given that the maps are smaller and that the flow of the game is much quicker (turns are carried out simultaneously so there's no hanging around for the AI to make their move) I didn't find the lack of AI opponents to be a problem, especially as you have to deal with several types of barbarians too. There are four victory types: Domination (capturing all of the capital cities), Technology Victory, Cultural Victory and Economic Victory. During the course of the game you'll receive a progress report that will show you who is nearest to achieving each of these victory types.
You can name certain features on the map including mountain ranges, forests, grasslands, plains, seas and rivers, which is a nice touch. You'll receive foreign gifts such as a caravan of exotic gifts from Sultans including dancers and fortune tellers etc. and you'll get to watch them perform by accessing your Trophy Room. During battles you have the option to retreat if you've run into an enemy who is a little too strong. If your units are too strong they can overrun the enemy and you'll see them flee for their lives. You can create armies by combining three units of the same type. There doesn't appear to be a limit on how many units you can place onto a ship meaning a single galley can carry a powerful force from one continent to the next. Whilst religion was a key part of Civilization IV it's not a consideration here. You will notice your advisors that appear from time to time. They aren't as interesting as those in Civilization II (bring back Elvis please Sid) but they can be quite useful. Of course a major difference is the control method. There's not a lot to say here except that Firaxis have done a great job of utilizing the 360 controller. You can access practically anything with just a press of a button and it all feels intuitive.
In terms of its presentation, Civilization Revolution is actually quite impressive. Graphically this is the best Civilization game to date but you are zoomed in much closer than in the PC versions. You can zoom out a little but not really enough to give you an overview of the map. The cities and units all look great and the animated advisors and leaders retain that almost caricature appearance that they've had in the last few PC versions of Civilization. The game won't cause deaf gamers any real problems. All of the important information in the game is shown in text. The game also makes good use of self-explanatory icons to display information. The leaders and advisors all speak a kind of gibberish and all of their dialogue is shown in text. The only real speech in the game is in the intro movie that plays when you start a single player game. This isn't subtitled but it's not important and certainly has no bearing on the game. Of course voice chat is supported in online games which might prove to be problematic if you're playing with hearing gamers. The game includes a Civilopedia which provides information on every aspect of the game and all of this information is displayed either in text or in images.
What we can't emphasise enough about Civilization Revolution is that it's not just a game for those who have poured weeks, months and years into the PC versions of Civilization. In many ways it's the most accessible Civilization game to date and the developers have taken a lot of care to ensure that it's a game that can be enjoyed by anyone. The real beauty of the game is that it retains the core Civilization experience despite not having some of the intricacies of the latter PC versions of Civilization, although it does have some rather nifty unique features that you won't find in other Civilization games. If you're looking for a strategy game on the Xbox 360 you won't find a finer one than Civilization Revolution.