artg's Civilization Revolution (Xbox 360) review

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A Console Strategy Game That Works!

Staring at the clock, you consider starting another match. “Hey, I’ll just set things up for when I play tomorrow!” you say. Three hours later, you’ve finished another Civilization Revolution match, and you’re left wondering where the time went. Sounds like a Civilization game, doesn’t it? If you’re a veteran of the series, that’s music to your ears.

That’s always the concern with PC strategy games making the jump to consoles — does it feel like the PC game? Too many times gamers have been double-crossed by game companies selling them soy milk, claiming it to be “just like the real thing!”, only to have gamers take a swig of the soy milk, spit it out, get pissed off and run to message boards to bitch about the bad taste left in their mouth. (All apologies to soy milk fans) That is to say that Civilization Revolution wasn’t stripped down to be “like” the real thing — it is.

Saying Civilization Revolution is a Civilization game comes with all the positives and negatives associated with the franchise. Civilization Revolution, like previous Civilization games, can be ridiculously addicting, causing you to lose yourself for hours and hours planning out how best to dominate the world. Because it’s a turn-based strategy game, it has the feel, much like an MMO, of “I can do this task really quick and then I’ll be done.” But after you complete that task, two more tasks come to your attention and it starts to snowball from there. The addictive qualities are thanks in large part to the in-depth strategy that the Civilization franchise is known for. There are four different ways for you to win: military, financial, cultural and technological dominance. Each of the four victory paths have different objectives for you to aim for (military dominance, for example, has you taking over all of the other civilization‘s capitals), so tailoring what you build and research is key to reaching victory.

Keeping up with what units to build, technology to research, cities to attack, etc., can sometimes make newcomers to Civilization feel like a freshly hired waiter at a busy restaurant. You’re juggling two different trays, not trying to drop the customer’s food, while still trying to get there quickly in the hopes they give you a nice tip after they’re done feasting. Eventually, a customer with a full bladder gets up to go to the bathroom, bumps into you and makes you drop everything, killing all your work. Civilization Revolution can be the same in that way — you do a lot of work to set your army up, you plan out your attack on a neighboring city, and then the other civilization’s defenses are vastly superior to your expectations, crushing your planned “tip” for all that work. For newcomers like myself, learning what units to build and what technologies to research can be overwhelming at first, but when you finally get the hang of things and capture a city that you had been longing for, it makes the journey completely worth it — even if it was a bit messy getting there.

In addition to the standard offline single-player, there are scenario missions and a “game of the week” — a randomly generated new scenario for players. The game of the week is the same for everyone, and each week you can compete with others to get the highest ranking on online leaderboards. Online multiplayer is also included for up to three other players, It runs smoothly and without any lag issues, but might not be ideal if you don’t have a couple hours to dedicate to the match.

Audio-visually, Civilization Revolution is neither here nor there. The music isn’t memorable, and the characters speak in this Sims-like gibberish that gets a little grating. Visually, you’re getting a decent looking game considering the scope, but it’s not going to “wow” you. Surprisingly, though, I did experience some significant slow-down in the game on a couple occasions, leading me to believe my console had frozen — instead, the game had screeched to a complete halt for about 10 seconds. Although the slowdown was puzzling, it only happened twice and never got in the way of the game.

The highest praise you could give a game like Civilization Revolution is to say that it plays like its PC counterparts. It might not be for everyone, but for the hardcore strategy fan, you finally have a console strategy game that isn’t broken and busted. Instead, you’re getting the same addicting, deep gameplay you’ve seen on the PC. Drink up — you’re not getting soy milk for once — you’re getting the real thing.

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