Mar 16, 2011

[Games] Civilization Revolution (PS3)

Civilization Revolution (PS3)Like many other geeks who were around for the start of the x86 PC era, I'm a huge fan of the Civilization series of games. Sure, the games are often challenging as heck and the computer AI has been periodically kicking my butt ever since I first tried playing the game, but the sense of achievement when you figure out the right balance in order to win is hard to match with other games.

These days, the average real-time strategy game opens the door to speedy resolutions to conflict. Rushes quickly end matches and there's often a greater emphasis on larger armies of similar units if only to churn them out faster. Turn-based strategy games like Civilization always stressed the need for more careful planning and the need to focus on expanding your empire and not just army-building alone. The game has a way of capturing the weight of a nation's need for a reliable infrastructure for any effort, whether it's building a great wonder or trying to raise an army.

Civilization has predominantly thrived in the PC gaming market since the system lends itself well to hours and hours of playing and the complex calculations needed to compute the AI's next moves. It's not the type of gameplay that you would immediately associate with the console market, which tends to favor faster, more dynamic games. But when I first got to try this game out, I was surprised at how well it worked and now it continues to eat up a lot of time for both me and my partner.

Civilization Revolution is the 2008 addition to the Civilization franchise as designed by original Civilization genius Sid Meier. The game was designed for the console market and continues the real-time strategy tradition of its predecessors.

Like all other Civilization games, the player is put in control of the group of people that have just taken that first step towards becoming a great nation - a true civilization. With only your lone settler unit, you create your very first city and start to grow your civilization into one that will stand the test of time - hopefully.

The game has four main possible ways of winning the game, which follows a number of concepts introduced in past editions of the game released over the years. A Domination victory is achieved when you've captured all the enemy capital cities (even without conquering all enemy cities). A Cultural victory happens when you have a total of 20 great people, wonders and/or converted cities and you complete the United Nations wonder. An Economic takes place once you've accumulated 20,000 gold and you've built the World Bank wonder. Finally, a Technology victory is managed once you've gotten your spaceship with its colonists all the way to Alpha Centauri.

The game gives you the option to pick one of 16 possible civilizations, each with their own special benefits / bonuses to help you win the game. For example, choosing the Americans means you get a 2% interest bonus for your gold reserves or choosing the Mongolians means any defeated barbarian villages turn into new cities for you. In addition, you earn more civilization-specific bonus as you progress into new eras and each race has its own unique units that add additional flavor to each race.

Xbox 360 VersionImage via WikipediaNow I deferred buying this game for some time since I assumed that a console adaptation of the game would mean over-simplified controls and game dynamics leading to a less than fulfilling game experience. I was proven amazingly wrong when I finally got to try the game out, so much so that I made sure to get my own copy of the first chance I got! The game provides a healthy degree of challenge for any Civilization player even on the most basic Chieftain level of difficulty.

The cartoony style of advisors was a mixed bag for me at first, but in time they grew on me. All on-screen avatars for both your advisers and the other leaders utilize an odd Simlish-style manner of speech that's actually pretty catchy the more you play.I do miss seeing the "throne rooms" of other leaders during diplomatic interactions, but then that was obviously cut in the interests of speed. I also missed having a palace of my own to build or a throne room to decorate, but the alternative of gifts from other tribes including magicians and dancing bears was a cute alternative.

Beyond those somewhat kiddie additions to the game, the AI is just as unforgiving as in previous Civilization games. You'll find yourself needing to pick things up quickly in order to keep pace with other civilizations who will also utilize a variety of strategies to get to the top. Of course they all eventually declare war with you and try to kill you but at times they also engage in skirmishes with one another, which always helps.

I think what I liked about this game the most is how it feels both casual and still strategic like the original games. A decent session will last a good 2-3 hours of straight playing, depending on your selected path of victory. And the various victory paths are nicely dynamic as the computer-controlled nations also use varying methods to achieve victory instead of solely trying to kill you. Thus every game experience becomes unique depending on the race you pick, your starting location, and how you choose to achieve victory.

Thus far I've only gotten as far as playing on King level and I fear how difficult the Deity level is going to be. It's rare that a console has challenged me this much with a truly strategic game (thus you have a chance of winning) as compared to other games which I end up not finishing simply because they are frustratingly hard.

If there's one downside, it's the fact that this PS3 version was released before trophy support was made mandatory by Sony. But this is a minor grievance that shouldn't deter true Civilization fans since virtual trophies are hardly the reason why you play the game.

Civilization Revolution is an amazing addition to the Civilization family of games and one that I know I'll keep playing over and over again despite the existence of more complex games like Civilization V. It gets 5 pretty cool bonuses granted by Great People out of a possible 5.

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