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  • Game Review: Civilization Revolution (DS)

    Because my best review yet got deleted before it was even posted.

    Sid Meier's Civilization Revolution
    Publisher: 2K Games
    Developer: Firaxis
    Players: 1-2
    Genre: Turn based Strategy
    ESRP: $29.99

    A revolution for handheld TBS games, in a good way.

    I've been a Civilization series fan since the release of Civilization: Call to Power. Funny that I thought it was so great, since critics didn't. But I wasn't alone as it seemed, since it ended up being one of the best selling Civilizations of all time and...well never mind that. Point is that the turn-based Civilization series has always had a place in my gaming psyche. Civilization Revolution actually seems in a way like a step backward from the Civilization Revolutions out on the PS3 and 360. But that's easily to be expected from a handheld iteration of the game that was always speculated to just be a crappy console port like most DS games that are cross-console seem to be. Well rest assured Civilization fans that they didn't screw the DS version up. However, they did take it down a notch on features, as you could imagine(Did you really think that a handheld version of console game could possibly be as good?). The end result of these changes makes the game feel a whole lot like a mix between Civilization IV and Civilization II. You'll find out why in a minute.

    Like past Civilization games, the point of the game is to build a Civilization from scratch, and win the game through either a Cultural, Military, Scientific, or Wealth Victory. Any one of these will lead you to Victory, though all of them take time to accomplish. About time. Previous Civilization games often took many, many hours, and often, days to win the game through some form of victory. It was practically impossible to beat it in an afternoon, much less a few hours. Civilization DS doesn't follow that same formula. I probably beat the Free mode, which was "The Game" for past Civilizations, in about 2-3 hours. That doesn't mean your through though, it practically means you haven't even begun. Each map in Free mode is randomly generated, so it has an infinite amount of ways your Civilization can go. This, combined with the ability to choose from a host of Civilizations, leads to not only a wasted afternoon, but a possible wasted month, depending on how much you like it. I mentioned how you can choose from many Civilizations to start your game. This isn't just for looks like the Civilizations of old used to have them. Each Civilization has its own skill about them that makes it more or less good or bad at whatever. The thing is, through out my play, the skills I had for my Civilization didn't seem to make much of a difference in the least, it didn't seem to help my opponents in the game very much either. I guess its to keep it as equal as possible, but that's where "honing your strengths" comes in. About knowing your strengths and weaknesses...this game has a pretty iffy learning curve.

    It looks pretty complicated, but you'll get used to it fast.

    Most Civilizations in the past had a fairly steep learning curve to them, and while Civ Rev is no exception, it does seem to be a bit less complicated this time around. Having played Civ Rev on the console and Civilizations in the past, I was able to jump in quickly to the games more sophisticated points,(government, science, city management blahblahblah) but I soon found that most of them feel like they've had a downgrade to them. Not a downgrade in features so much as the game does more of the annoying stuff for you.(This may be why it is so much easier to play through the game so fast) For example, after almost everything that happens, an advisor pops up and gives you a hint as to what to do next. However, you can disable this from the option menu. When that's taken away, you soon figure out that the reason it feels more downgraded is because the menus are so simplified. Each thing tells you exactly what they do and how they do it, whether they be wonders, building, units, etc. Rather then this ending up being annoying, it becomes helpful, and allows the game to progress more smoothly. Now something that hasn't been simplified at all, or maybe its been OVER simplified, is battling.

    Probably the biggest part of any Civilization game are the battles. if your a fan then you know most of the issues already: Weaker enemies constantly beating stronger enemies, defensive terrain sometimes counting for nothing, and the oh-too-often knight destroying the helicopter.(Yes, it does happen. Still.) But Civ Rev gets a little extreme on it. At one point in the game I was attempting to take over an enemy city. They had a single archer defending it and I had about 7 legions, 8 riflemen, 2 knights, and 3 cannons standing at ready to be thrust in fierce battle. As I send each of them, the battle animations take place, and my jaw just drop out of frustration. Each and ever one of my units could not score a SINGLE hit against the archer. Each time I attacked the archer shot one arrow and nailed them before they even got close. Now this doesn't mean the whole battle system is screwed up, though it seemed like that when I tried. It meant more that archers CANNOT BE KILLED. At first i thought it was just because I was using short range attackers, but when my riflemen couldn't score a shot, I got pissed. Good news is, where all 20 of my units failed, I sent a tank and mauled that archer. That really was the main time that something that screwy happened in the games battle system. Granted, the battle system suffers from the same problems of the past Civilization games, but ranged units seem to be good against just about everything in this game. Close combat unit battles seem to be the most fair thing about the combat. Now about the graphical aspects of the combat system...

    As you can probably tell from the screnshots, this game isn't the most beautiful thing you've ever seen. If anything it reminds me of Civilization II for the PSX; it was a great strategy game but its graphics looked like chop suey. But when it comes to battles, this game sports some really great looking sprite-animated battles. Unlike past(way past) Civ games, Civ Rev takes off Civ IV with real time battles when engaged. (And if your losing, you can even retreat before they are all dead) While some of the earlier units sprites look questionably good, later sprites like Bombers and tanks look very nice when blasting off rounds in a certain archer's forehead. While battles look pretty good, the rest of the game has some pretty awful graphics. All sprites, and all without changing animations for directions, they all look bad. Now you can take it from me though-- the more you play the game, the less you'll care. I was less then thrilled to play this game when I first started, but after about 30 minutes the graphical mess didn't even bother me a bit. Its weird; its like the strategic element of the gameplay makes your mind forget all about the other aspects of the game. Still, whether you forget them or not, they are still there, and many of you won't be shutting your mind out to the graphics. Well, it is supposed to be all about thinking right? So images shouldn't matter much, right?.....uh...

    Well for the most part anyway, though this game really could have used some better sprites, since it could have easily handled them. Unlike graphics though, the SFX is something you probably won't block out of your head. Civ Rev has some very clear and nice sound effects. Knights and warriors beating each other up have the distinct sound of steel against metal, and clubs against shields. I guess this falls mostly under the category of "battle sounds" though. As for other sounds, well, there aren't too many. However, for most of your accomplishments, such as building a city, or creating a unit, or finishing a wonder, they all have some charming SFX to each of them. Something that i wouldn't mind muting indefinitely is the terrible, half-muttered, half-gibberish that your opponent Civilization leaders say when you talk to them about war, money, advances ect. But that may well be a good thing, because it gives you a definitive reason to want to destroy they're civilization. As far as music goes, there really isn't whole bunch of it here. The few numbers are during battle sequences and the menu screens. Both of them have some nice sounding tunes to them, but each is too short to really make you care.

    They are no match for us, now, or ever!

    Now Civilization isn't all about battling, as I probably made it sound, though it is a major part. You have to make your own Civilization flourish before you can try to take down other civilizations. The key to this is city improvements, or buildings, that you construct in your cities. As you make more buildings, you cities will begin to produce more gold, more production to build things faster, more science to find new stuff, new food to thrive..a good lot of things. About science. Like past Civilization games, science is quite possibly the single most important thing in the game(Though if you go all toward science, you'll still fail. You need a good balance.) As you learn more things you are able to make more advanced weapons and improvements, and even wonders. Now these things are where Civ Rev really shines. the strategic elements to this game are great, especially considering its a handheld game. Most handheld TBS games are stripped of most of they're best and most in-depth features. Like I said earlier, it is stripped of a good bit of features from the console versions, but it has more then enough to make it an authentic Civilization experience. If you do things right, and keep the right balance at the right times, your Civilization will thrive. If you create a terrible balance, or don't balance enough toward a certain thing at a certain time, you probably won't make it to your next turn.

    Lets finish this up, so my entire review doesn't get lost again...

    Major Selling Points:
    -- Great handheld strategy game
    -- Very deep and intuitive gameplay
    -- A faithful Civilization Recreation
    -- Random maps means infinite gameplay

    Major Breaking Points:
    -- Horrible Overworld graphics
    -- Some unfair battle issues
    -- Feels a little stripped

    Story: N/A
    Since there really isn't a direct story, this can't really be a score
    Graphics: 2.5/5
    Pretty horrific. The sprites even aren't that good, but battling they look fairly slick.
    Sound: 4/5
    The sounds that are here sound great. Music is good too, but short, and doesn't play very often.
    Gameplay: 4/5
    Despite some combat issues and some stupid A.I., Civ Rev is a deep, fulfilling strategy game. The touch screen can or can't be used, your choice.
    Replay Value: 4.5/5
    Random maps means tons of replay value in free mode alone, not even counting the many scenarios and WiFi play.
    Value: 4/5
    A great strategy game that is well worth the price, but only if your into strategy games. otherwise you may get bored, fast.
    A great, if scaled down, Civilization experience to fit in your pocket. It has the makings of a good TBS game, and is a great start for the genre on handhelds.
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Game Review: Civilization Revolution (DS) started by Shadowblind View original post
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