The cartoon battle animations are a nice bonus.
Actual combat is merely a matter of sending your unit onto an enemy unit's square and seeing how things play out. Victorious units will gain experience and can earn special abilities, such as improved city defense. Combat has been streamlined, and the number of units available throughout the ages has been pared down from the robust PC rosters. Ships can now transport a huge number of units in any age, and give you a combat boost when postioned next to your warring armies. These are just some of the changes from the PC formula that, thankfully, don't feel like omissions. The strategies that the lost elements supported are still present and can make or break your martial campaigns.
There's a lot of information to take into account when playing Civilization Revolution, and fortunately, there are a number of built-in tools to help you. Your cadre of advisors will provide vital information about units, buildings, and technologies as you determine what to build and research. Unfortunately, the excellent console Civilopedia has not been included in any incarnation. All of the information you need can be gleaned from the tech planner or your advisors; you'll just have to be a bit more assiduous in piecing it all together. Civ vets will feel right at home, but beginners should play their first game on the easiest difficulty and take advantage of the thorough tutorial.
Civilization Revolution isn't a pretty game because the interface focuses on function over form. The animated battles, as well as the cartoon caricatures of advisors and world leaders, are the only graphical flourishes in an otherwise symbol-heavy landscape. This actually works to its great advantage because the iconic style communicates a large amount of information in a small amount of space. It feels a bit busy initially, but one or two games in, and you'll be reading terrain easily. There are some tricky bits, especially when two civs are similar colors or when there are a lot of units traversing a small region. Still, the style works well, and the grid-based screen is easily navigable with the D pad and face buttons. City management is also a breeze, and the only time you'll find yourself using the touch screen is when you need to select a particularly stubborn unit. As for the sound, it's mostly uninteresting sound effects punctuated with a few nice fanfares, so you're better off turning the volume all the way down.
Cleopatra is one sassy dame.
Online play is smooth and moves at a reasonable pace, whether you're playing locally with multiple cartridges or over the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection. The former is your best bet because it's less likely your opponents will drop out after their early bid for a domination victory fails, but Wi-Fi works just as well, though it is markedly slower. Up to four players can compete on one map, but it is hard to develop alliances and conspire against foes within the limited diplomacy communication options, so free-for-all is generally the order of the day.
Played against human or AI opponents, Civilization Revolution is a great game that will let you plumb different strategic depths each time you play. It's incredibly easy to get engrossed in the rhythm of expansion and evolution, and to find yourself happily losing hours and hours at a time. Sid Meier and Firaxis Games have done a commendable job of streamlining many of the key game mechanics, and they've cut out some of the micromanagement without gutting the strategic options. While not as pretty or fully featured as its console counterparts, the DS version packs a lot of content into a small package. The addictive turn-based strategy of the Civilization series has been well distilled here, and folks looking to dominate the world wherever they go will be pleased with this game.