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Civilization Revolution — Nothing Revolutionary About It on Xbox

by Lulu Mcgrew

civ-rev-coverI have just finished a full game of Sid Meier’s Civilization Revolution. Overall, it is a big yawn, but I think I am totally jaded in that summation of the turn-based strategy game that has consumed many hours, days, weeks of my life since I discovered the darn game back in the 90’s. I also had my boyfriend play. He is a Civ newb, but skilled in strategy games (not as good as me, of course).

So, I am going to try and give you two reviews in one this time. One is from an addict that is losing her taste for the game, and the second from a beginner.

Honestly, I don’t see an experienced Civ player playing this game on an Xbox 360. It’s better on a PC, and easier to micro-manage which it what this game is all about. But for someone who has never played, I think that the Xbox version will be satisfying to those looking for a strategy game to play from time to time.

Ok, getting right into it. The game looks good, and I like the curved Earth aspect given in the graphics. Granted, I never did play Civilization IV, so maybe the shape of the globe was integrated into Civ at that point. All other Civ’s were very two-dimensional, so the third dimension was a nice treat. I just wish there were more new and improved game play aspects of which to also praise.

There are the usual suspects that are your playable civilizations, i.e. the English (Elizabeth looks frigid), the Russians (Catherine the Great is hot), the Mongols (my fav since the Vikings are no longer available), the Germans, the Chinese, the Indians, the Zulu, and even the classical civs like the Greeks (Alexander loves to toss his blond hair around) and the Romans. The Americans are represented by Lincoln and his theme music is straight out of Deliverance. Odd.

Anyway, you start off as a group of settlers, you build your capital, you make more settlers to build more cities, you want to build military units and destroy all the barbarians, before your fellow leaders turn on you and then you get to fight them off for the rest of the game. You can play super easy to super hard, depending on your level of experience. I played the first game on Chieftain (super easy) and it was so easy, I quit playing and switched to the medium level of King. Usually on the PC game, I find it impossible to survive on any level above King, as I am a warmonger and this game rewards peace.

When Chris played, he found it challenging and fun, although he did complain about the length of the game. This coming from a guy who can play Age of Empires II for six hours without a rest. He lost his first game on the Warlord setting. I don’t think he will lose again, as he was just figuring out the tricks of the trade before he was taken out. And that is one of the biggest problems with Civilization Revolution as a game to be played over and over — once you figure out how to win, it becomes more like a chore than a pleasure. The learning curve is rather shallow to put it another way.

civilization-revolution-military-advisor1One thing I absolutely HATED was the gibberish that my AI opponents and my ministers and advisors spoke to me. What is with that? You pay a writer to write, and he writes actual gibberish. At first, I thought it was a mistake, but I don’t think it was. I eventually turned down the volume on the voices, as they became uber-annoying.

The game play on the Xbox is not fundamentally different from the way it plays on the PC. The game moves for you, and you can use your right thumbstick to move around the “board”. You still have to fight military units one at a time, which has always driven me buggy in the PC game, but made me seethe on the Xbox. Chris also found this a dumb move on the developer’s part. What’s the point of building the biggest, most kickass army with naval and air support if none of them move together in any kind of cohesive master plan in order to make the most of each units individual strengths. It’s best to just have a lot of troops, so playing a smart tactical game is a non-issue for the most part.

One thing I did like as an improvement was the “Build Road” function. Instead of having to direct (or haphazardly automate) your workers to build a road, you can simply purchase one that runs between two cities. And other than the makeover for Catherine, I have nothing else to commend.

In all, I would say that Civilization Revolution was a phoned-in effort on the part of the development team at Firaxis. All they really did was gut the game enough to pare it down to a 3 or 4 hour game with little to no micromanagement needed. For some, that could be a good thing. For me, frankly, I am over my Civ addiction. Despite the innumerable sequels and supposed upgrades and additions to the original, that game is still the best of the bunch. Call to Power wasn’t bad. Civ III yawn, and Civ Rev — shh, Lulu’s sleeping.

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