Sid Meier's: Civilization Revolution

What do you get if you take Command and Conquer, add some culture, trading and education, and then sprinkle MAAAADness powder all over the blueprints? The simple answer is Sid Meier's Civilization Revolution, one of the most exciting, and slightly barking, strategy games to arrive on Playstation 3. Instead of placing the focus solely on combat, with tanks, jeeps, soldiers and turrets providing the mainstay, Civilization features settlers, farming, building villages and making babies, traders, wandering from place to place exchanging knowledge and items, soldiers, guarding their homes from enemies, scholars, improving the scientific knowledge of a town, and far more. The idea behind Civilization is exactly what the word suggests: to create the best civilization possible.

Civilization Revolution

With Command and Conquer, it's fairly obvious what is required to grasp victory: combat. The level of tactical potential in Command and Conquer's combat is both undisputed and incredible, and Civilization does not attempt to compete directly in the same arena. In Civilization Revolution, victory is awarded for any one of a number of reasons, including the traditional victory by force, cultural victories, achieved through the accummulation of great people like Einstein, economic victories, by gathering more wealth than any competing civilization, and even scientific victories, only possible by mounting a mission to Alpha Centauri using an enormous spacecraft. The potential for different strategies is superb, with options suiting people of all dispositions. For those set against violence, a peaceful mission to Alpha Centauri might be just right, while the aggressors may still seek victory through combat. It also drives the need for a balanced society, since a settlement composed entirely of philosophers and farmers will find themselves vulnerable to attack from large armies, while militaristic civilizations may not have the resources to compete in a space race.

Options for victory aren't available immediately though. On starting a new game, your civilization will consist of only a handful of settlers in one tiny village, guarded by no more than a handful of foot soldiers. The type of soldier and village is dependent on your choice of leader. Players can choose from famous leaders such as Cleopatra, Napoleon and Ceasar and guide their respective cultures through their development. Each society will have different strengths as well with, for example, the Romans offering the cheapest roads between settlements, and Ghandi offering a calming influence that reduces the chance that cities will enter anarchy. With a leader chosen and a first settlement formed, farmers get swiftly to work, gathering resources and enriching your town. The game is turn-based, so you'll be free to manoeuvre your units and make decisions for your communities in peace, before the enemy is afforded the same luxury. With each turn, a number of years pass, allowing each civilization to accelerate through the ages, right through to the modern era and beyond.

Civilization Revolution

The key functions for improving your civilization are many and varied. Of particular importance is the fact that each city you control is capable of building one at a time from a list of buildings, units, roads and wonders. Building particular structures, like libraries and banks, will greatly enhance your civilizations ability to learn, grow and improve, while training units will obviously allow improved protection of your cities. Once you have the resources to expand, either by marching settlers to a new location or by taking an enemy city by force, roads can be built between structures to allow fast travelling across the map. One of the most crucial building options though, and another means for securing victory, is the construction of a Wonder. As your science and culture improves, more Wonders will be available for construction. By simply building the required number of worldly Wonders, victory can be attained.

Controlling units is relatively simple, with easy ways to scroll between available units and cities, and a convenient overlay menu accessible throughout. Units have a limit to how much they can move in any turn, and this is represented clearly on screen, allowing players to make informed strategic decisions. Of particular importance are things like the fuel gauge on planes, providing a warning when a unit must return to base to avoid crashing. Due to the turn-based nature of the game, contrasting Command and Conquer's real-time strategy, the pace is somewhat slower, but the scope for deep tactical control is everybit as incredible. To aid tactical decisions, advisers will appear during each turn, representing each area of your society's development (a political adviser, a military commander, a spiritual coordinator and a science professor), each offering new options for your progress. For instance, your society can learn particular new skills (starting with basic things like stone masonry, ranging through to more advanced concepts like space flight), with your science adviser guiding you through which skill your people should learn next. Similarly, a political adviser will be on hand to assist with threats and friendly greetings from other cultures. Unavoidably, the military commander will appear on occasion when combat becomes unavoidable.

Civilization Revolution

If this doesn't sound interesting enough already, note that the initially-colourful map, featuring green lands, trees, mountains and large oceans, will swiftly become filled with magnificent and detailed cities, dotted with increasingly impressive structures, protected by mighty armies comprised of planes, submarines, special forces troops, tanks and more. It is a transformation from one form of a beauty to another, from purity to magnificence. The evolution of your civilization is brilliantly reflected on screen as your cities flourish. It's not graphically outstanding like some modern PS3 games, but it's not bad by any stretch. The levels are vibrant, the units are sharp, colourful and, instead of featuring incalculable detail, often appear more caricatured, with comedic gestures and exaggerated animations that give the game real personality. The game is the polar opposite from modern, grey first person shooters, refusing to take itself too seriously, instead providing broad entertainment and enjoyable play.

Even the sound effects and voicework amplify the playful nature of the game, with voices generally being an inaudible mumble for every occasion. It's true that it's a simple trick to avoid voicing too many complex lines, but the game gets away with it because it's consistently silly. The effects and music match the madness, with dramatic little trumpet blasts, barmy music and over-the-top machine sounds. Despite the craziness, what actually happens is that this mad cacophony brings the world of Civilization to life, creating the complete experience.

Civilization Revolution

The completeness of these aspects of the game bring Civilization superbly close to being an unmissable experience, but there are just a few key features missing. Though there is an online mode for versus matches, which is great for PS3 since it further augments an increasingly varied range of good online games available to play, there is no local multiplayer, which is a massive blow. The facility for two or more players on a single console, or linked locally, playing versus or, even better, cooperatively, would be superb, even in turn-based combat, but sadly this feature is absent. In addition, the game may do things very well, but there is little that screams innovation, since previous Civilization games and Command and Conquer titles have covered most of this ground already. As a result, the game must be recommended, but not as something that is ground-breaking on PS3 and completely unmissible. It is ideal for strategy enthusiasts stuck for choice on PS3, but it seems likely that this title will be outdone in the near future. For now though, it's a slightly mad, highly enjoyable game that certainly adds a great deal to Playstation 3's range.

Game details

Game logo

Publisher:

2K Games

Developer:

Firaxis

Players:

1

Online:

1-4

Release:

2008-06-06

Trophies:

0

Review summary

Gameplay:

Excellent varied tactical play

Graphics:

Solid and beautiful in places

Sound:

Slightly nagging voices but good overall

Lastability:

Plenty of depth and online play to explore

8.5

Supernova

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