Sid Meier's Civilization Revolution - PS3

Nope, the name isn’t some kind of late April fools joke. The long running strategic epic that is the Civilization series is indeed attempting to make its home on the latest batch of consoles.

For the uninitiated, the Civilization series can claim the word “epic” more than any other video game that is has preceded, or come to fruition after it. Starting the game a few thousand years BC, you’re tasked with growing your fledgling empire across the world over thousands of years, before eventually hoping to become the world’s dominant force.

The way you achieved this ultimate victory wasn’t singular. If you felt blood thirsty, you could simply develop a huge fighting force and completely obliterate your enemies. Or, you could win via devilish diplomacy and turn the rest of the world against each other until eventually you were the only one left. Or you could simply develop such an incredible empire that the rest of the world can’t fail but want to join your cultural lifestyle.

All of that, of course, isn’t palatable to today’s modern console gamer. Single player games of Civilization could last dozens of hours, with no achievement points or trophies to satisfy your need for recognition.

This console reworking is a different beast. Though the ultimate goal of world conquest remains, combat is certainly the avenue that you’re prodded down at almost all times. The diplomatic and economic options that could be micromanaged to an astonishing level in the PC version have been stripped away, leaving a much more streamlined, and dare I say, simplistic set of options.

That’s not the only trim of the Civilization fat that Revolution is lumbered with. Religion has consistently played a huge part in all aspects of the series, but here it’s little more than a token boost to your cities’ culture.

The world map too is much smaller, and can be traversed in a tiny slither of the time of the PC version. While the latter forces you to spend an hour flicking through turns to simply explore your immediate surroundings and develop a few warriors, here it’ll be a half hour before you’re firmly to grips with the game mechanics and making bloody battle with your huge empire.

The visuals feel much more, for want of a better word, gamey than the PC-based versions of the series. Here it’s all chunky buildings and colourful characters, whereas the PC version is all menus and zoomed out world views.

It’s safe to say that long time fans of the series might find all these changes off-putting. With so much cut away to encourage a new set of fans, Revolution is certainly not the kind of game that the series has consistently offered up. If you adore being forced to spend hours tinkering with tiny menus and sliders, then Revolution probably isn’t the kind of epic that will keep you hooked.

But for the console world, there’s little doubt that this is the strategy game of the moment. With an easy to use interface, and the right kind of depth to be able to dip in and out for swift half hour bashes of gaming time, Revolution is an enthralling title when it has you gripped.

With so much cut away, this element becomes the games only fairly major issue. While you’ll only require a half hour before you’re totally to grips with the game itself, in only a few hours you’ll have experienced almost all it has to offer. There’s no extra hidden layer of depth to scratch away at as you progress, meaning that it is the strength of the gameplay on offer that keeps you coming back, not the promise of something new.

Verdict

Whether or not you find the streamlined idea of Civilization Revolution intriguing, fans of console-based strategy titles deserve to give this one a go. It has enough to keep you hooked, but not too much that you ever feel overwhelmed, or need to spend a week simply learning the game’s mechanics.

Toss in a fantastic online multiplayer option, and Revolution immediately becomes the best console-based strategy title on the market. Long time fans might baulk at the idea of so many omissions, but if you posses a strategic mind, Revolution is certainly for you.