I’ve made no secret in the past of the fact that I’m not really a huge fan of strategy games, so it may come as a bit of a shock for me to reveal that there are actually a few brands that do interest me. Command and Conquer, obviously. Warlords too was my bread-and-butter as a child.
And Civilization too which, judging by the on-going stream of feedback from my last column, is also pretty popular with the rest of you.
It may come as a bit of a shock then that this monumentally popular franchise has now left the PC behind (for a bit at least) and is testing the waters in console-land and DSville. It’s also a pretty odd idea – the incredibly in-depth, tactical and longCivilization template isn’t one you’d think might do all that well on a console.
Still, Sid Meier’s Firaxis studio has never been one to be coy – ambition is what makes Civilization what it is and so the move to an arguably more adrenaline-fuelled and casual audience was inevitable. Below we see if transition is as fluid as could be hoped – or as jarring as breezeblock to the jaw on a cold morning.
As someone who has never really had a stomach for the obvious rock-paper-scissors mechanics underneath most RTS games, Civilization has always appealed to me on the strength that it can be used more as a personality quiz in many regards.
When you quash a rebellion or break a peace treaty – what does that say about you as a person? I’ve always loved how these decisions are reflected in the way your government evolves and changes over time, though it is pretty damning that I always end up in some sort of dictatorship by the time the end-game is in sight.
Speaking of which, Civilization Revolution retains the openness of the original games and there are still a number of different ways to win. You can have military victories by conquering all your opponents, scientific victories by being the first to reach Alpha Centuri, economic victories by being the first to gather 10,000 gold and form the World Bank, or a cultural victory if you’re the first to create Jerry Spinger: The Opera.
Then again, my civilizations rarely make it to the end-game – I always get outflanked by one faction or another, spread my forces too thin and end up collapsing on myself like an over-eater who finally achieves critical mass and implodes gorily.
I was pretty happy then to find that Civilization Revolution is functionally very similar to the older Civilization games – there’s still a selection of starting factions as diverse as the options for the ‘ethnic background’ question on a national census and there’s plenty of customisation to be applied to your ruling style as time goes on.
Where it gets a little different though is in the presentation of all these elements. Your advisers in Civilization Revolution aren’t the austere and reliable stalwarts of old, but exaggerated CG characters with lurid colours and ample bosom. Mmm, Catherine the Great…
These new advisers are still as useful as ever and you’ll have figureheads from your faction give you tips and guidance, except they now speak in looping simlish. It has to be said though that Queen Elizabeth is a disappointing choice for the English faction and we would have preferred Richard the Lionheart personally – and why aren’t the likes of Shakespeare, William Wallace or Dickens in the list of great persons? P’ah!