Game Review: Civilization Revolution
Release: July 07, 2008
Developer: Firaxis Games
Available Platforms: Xbox 360, Playstation 3, Nintendo DS
MSRP: $59.99(Xbox 360 and PS3) $29.99(DS)
ESRB Rating: E10
For those of you that have never played a Civilization game, you truly do not know what you have been missing. The whole idea of the Civilization franchise is you start off with a single settler and with that one person you develop your own civilization to rule the world. You can do this in several ways. For example, you can start off by crushing all other empires with your military might, or you can go about it with your brains and become one of the smartest empires in the world. Those are my favorite two. You can also win with culture or even by just becoming extremely rich. The key thing is you build your civilization your way, not the way the computer tells you. You tell your people what you want them to make, develop, learn, build–everything is up to you. It’s that point that has made the Civilization franchise what it is, they give you the tools and knowledge and it’s up to you to decide what you want to do with it.
This is one thing that has never been really huge with Civilization. Yes, the games always look nice, but this isn’t the type of game that has to be the best in graphics, it’s just not what Civilization is about. This time around the team at Firaxis Games decided to go with a very colorful approach to things, perhaps too colorful for my tastes, as its cartoonish approach seems to detract from some of the realism of the game. Another thing that I noticed about the graphics is that they seemed to try to put too much on the screen at once. In the game’s overview there is just too much cutler, especially when you have your advisers talking to you. They get in the way more than I want. To be honest though, those are my only real issues with how the game looks. Everything else is extremely easy to differentiate on the map, like the resources or types of land, its all extremely easy to identify. Still, it left a little to be desired. I would have liked a little less of a cartoon look to the game, even though everything was very beautifully done.
Argh, still no talking from your advisers. I really wish they added this because it would be something very small that would add more character to the game. I would have loved hearing what my military adviser had to say delivered in a military tone instead of just reading it. Or when my tech adviser talks to me to actually hear a geeky voice. Little things like that would have really bumped up the feel of the game. Instead, I’m stuck reading everything they have to say which, over time, is a lot as all you Civilization fans can attest to. Civilization Revolution has a lot of well done sound effects as well. Every different action and object in the game has its own sound. From your horseback riders moving across the map, to your tanks moving into battle. Mind you, when you have thirty to forty tank armies, it will get extremely repetitive and it will get to you. I have no question though what is best in the sound department of this game: the score. The background music in the game will not disappoint any old Civilization fan as it is done so well and it seems to never get old. It’s nice calming music that doesn’t distract you from the game at all, in fact I think that it adds to the feel of the game.
Now here is where I have some issues with the game and even though I gave the gameplay an “A” I still had issues with it. With Civilization Revolution, one of the things they wanted to do is give it more mass appeal and make it more accessible to those that might not try this game otherwise. Because of this, the game is extremely easy to get into. You just pick up the controller and there is a tutorial right from the start. Everything in the tutorial is very well explained. The game goes right into telling you how to start your civilization, what you might want to develop first and how to do what. As I said before, there are four different ways to win: money, power, knowledge and peace. You get to pick from several different civilizations to lead your way, each with different perks and you just have a fun time building your empire. However, I feel that the matches end a little too soon in this for a couple reasons. One is the map size. The maps are extremely small compared to the games in the past, and the reason I feel that they are leads into my other reason why everything ends too soon. This game is just “dumbed down.” In an effort to broaden its appeal, the Firaxis Games team dumbed everything about this franchise down. The maps are smaller and overall you just have less control over everything. Several of the little things that you used to be able to do like “Auto-Explore” or manually build your roads or even build multiple nukes, just seem to be gone. Now I don’t mean to bash the game for this, but I loved controlling every aspect of my empire.
Bringing a game like this to the consoles had to be a difficult task. Just like with many RTS games, the controls never seem to translate right. This game is no exception. While Civilization Revolution is extremely simple to pick up and play, and pretty well laid out over the controller, I would have preferred keyboard and mouse support. I know that the Microsoft team will not allow that to happen to their precious console but I still don’t feel completely comfortable with the control. Even after several games I found myself making stupid mistakes because of wrong button pushes. This is something that wouldn’t have happened if I had my trusty keyboard and mouse. So while easy to pick up and play, I found myself making small mistakes because of the controller.
If there is one area that the Civilization franchise has always been known for, it would have to be the high amount of replay every one of the games have carried. Unfortunately this didn’t completely carry over to this iteration. We do have online play–even online play with video support which is a cool feature. Civilization Revolution also has online leaderboards, which I hope actually get changed because they are currently only scoring on the length of the game and nothing else, which is annoying for my type of game play. The Xbox 360 has a total of fifty different achievements, which not a whole lot of thought was put into because they are very similar just different in the civilizations you have to use to accomplish them. Hopefully with the Playstation 3 getting trophies soon we will see Xbox achievements transferring to trophies for those on the Playstation side. Another cool feature that will help this game out is Firaxis Games has already come out to say that there will be new online content to download in the future including scenarios, maps, etc. No word though if those will be free or if they will cost an arm and a leg. I guess we will just have to wait and see on that. My biggest beef with this game has got to be the fact that it was dumbed down and it really hurts the replay value for me. Civilization Revolution is missing several key features for me, the biggest being free play, where you just build your empire with really no end in sight. I do not know why or what led to the decision to remove free play but it goes with the current trend of trying to make the game appeal to the general audience.
I have no doubt that hours of your time will go into this game if you’re the type of gamer who enjoys this type of game. But, I don’t feel it has the legs to be worth $59.99. There is just too much missing from it. If you’re not an online gamer, then it really isn’t worth the price, not by any means. I think buying Civilization IV for the PC or Mac would be a better purchase, because you would have a lot more fun with that, and you can add the expansion pack that is out for it and still save ten dollars from this version.
This game is a lot of fun and its very easy to pick up and play. For those of you who have never played a Civilization game before, you really need to try this game out, as I feel it was made more for you than the hardcore fans. Maybe you’ll like how extremely colorful it is. I still feel that it’s a little overboard, but I can guarantee that you will have some fun. If you’re an online gamer you will surely have some epic matches that you will love and feel so proud when you win. Still, the single player doesn’t have the legs and for hardcore Civilization fans, there is too much missing. This game, at times, seems to a step back to its core audience for the general mass appeal that Firaxis Games seems to be striving for. Even with all my issues with the game, I feel that they are little issues and that they do not take away from the game too much.
Steve’s Bottom Line
If you are a hardcore fan of the Civilization franchise, this will most likely be one to skip. There are just too many things taken out of the game in order to give it mass appeal.