Sid Meier's Civilization Revolution DS
Published by: 2K Games
Developed by: Firaxis Games
Release Date: Out Now
Not long ago we looked at Sid Meier's Civilization Revolution for the Xbox 360 and it was one of the finest console strategy titles to date. Whilst the game wasn't as complex as Civilization IV, it was still essentially a true Civilization experience. Here we have the Nintendo DS version of Civilization Revolution and it's impressive to find that very little of the experience that we enjoyed on the Xbox 360 has been lost.
Civilization Revolution caters for both your single-player and multiplayer needs. The single-player game allows you 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. The Game of the Week mode uses the Nintendo Wi-Fi service to offer a different game every week, beginning on a Sunday, for everyone to play. If you want a multiplayer game you can choose to play a local multiplayer game for 2-4 players (every player must have a copy of the game) or you can play a game using the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection service (again for 2-4 players).
There are some differences between Civilization Revolution and the PC versions of Civilization. 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 and it's randomised every time you begin a new game. There are 16 nations to pick from, each of which has their unique starting bonus and special era bonuses. The Aztecs for instance begin the game with a plenty of gold and during the Ancient era their units heal automatically after a victorious battle, whilst in the Medieval era their temples give +3 science, in the Industrial era they have half priced roads and during the Modern era that have +50% gold production. Whilst it may seem disappointing that you only have four AI opponents, it makes sense as the maps are smaller and the flow of the game is much quicker. I didn't find the lack of AI opponents to be a problem, especially as you have to deal with several types of barbarian too. There are four victory types: Domination (capturing all of the capital cities), Technology Victory, Cultural Victory and Economic Victory.
Firaxis have done a great job with the DS version of Civilization Revolution. Virtually the full experience of the console versions has been retained. The controls have been handled nicely and you'll use the directional pad to move your units and the A, B, X and Y buttons to give orders to your units. Pressing the R button brings up the city screen whilst the L button centres on the active unit. You can use the stylus to scroll around the map. The select button allows you to access the Diplomacy Screen, City Report, check the Who's Winning report and change your research. The one disappointment with the DS version is that it lacks the Civilopedia, which gives extremely useful information for every unit, building, technology and concept in the game, which was found in the Xbox 360 and PS3 versions. It was taken out because of space limitations so it's difficult to criticise Firaxis for its omission. It is a shame that a printed version of the Civilopedia could not have been included however.
One of the main differences between the DS and PS3/X360 versions of the Civilization Revolution is the look of the game. Whereas the console versions had great looking 3D visuals, the DS version has a 2D, top-down view of the action. Whilst you do see battle animations, the units on the map don't animate and simply slide from one location to the next. The maps can get a little cluttered during the latter phase of the game but thankfully it never becomes troublesome. The city screen has been laid out in such a way as to provide all of the information you need across the two screens without being cluttered which, given the small size of the DS screens, is quite an achievement. On the whole good use has been made of the top screen displaying information about each of the map squares, the battle animations and you'll also be reminded of the orders each button will perform (if you have the help level set to maximum in the game options menu).
Civilization Revolution on the DS won't cause deaf gamers any problems at all. All of the dialogue is text only, so you'll be fully aware of how the other civilizations are interacting with you. All tutorial messages are text only too, so you'll have no problems in learning how to play the game, should this be your first Civilization game. There aren't any captions but aside from grunts you'll receive from the various barbarians you'll meet in the game and some verbal gibberish from the other leaders (which are of no real importance), you're not missing out on any information. All of the information in the game is presented by text, icons and numbers and as a result the game is absolutely fine for deaf gamers.
It's probably natural to assume that the DS version of Sid Meier's Civilization Revolution would be a cut-down version of the game that appeared on the PS3 and Xbox 360 and it's remarkable that it's virtually an identical experience. The main difference of course is the absence of the Civilopedia. Whilst this is a little disappointing, and it's a shame that a printed Civilopedia has not been included with the game to compensate, it is understandable. All things considered this is a very good portable version of Civilization Revolution and one of the best strategy games you can currently play on the DS.