Ever since its inception in the early 1990s, Sid Meier's critically acclaimed Civilization series has challenged players to "build an empire to stand the test of time." Civilization Revolution is the newest scion of the series, and like its predecessors, it's a turn-based strategy game in which you take charge of a notable historical civilization and lead them from humble beginnings to world domination. Faced with the great challenge of preserving the strategic breadth of the series while streamlining the experience for consoles, developer Firaxis games has succeeded admirably. The result is a distilled version of Civilization that will please series veterans and newcomers alike.
As your city grows, you'll see new buildings and more advanced architecture.
Before the game begins, you must make an important choice: Which of the 16 civilizations will you command? Each has a starting bonus and four era bonuses that you'll gain as you progress through the ages, bonuses that will aid you in some way on your path to victory. There are four types of victory in Civilization Revolution: cultural, economic, technology, and domination. Each has particular victory conditions, and civilization-specific bonuses are a good way to start down the road toward meeting those conditions. Those seeking a cultural victory will appreciate that the Egyptians start with an ancient wonder, whereas military-minded players might choose the Germans and their veteran warriors. Trying the different civilizations on for size is great fun, as you adapt your unique strengths to grow your empire and deal with your opponents.
Once you've chosen your civilization, the game begins in earnest. As you set down your first city, you'll see icons on the surrounding squares indicating how much food, production, or trade each produces. Food grows your population, production builds units and buildings, and trade furthers scientific research or fills your coffers with gold. Being aware of these resources is the key to your civilization's prosperity. As your city grows larger and encompasses more squares, you'll have the option of telling your workers to prioritize one resource over the others, or to work certain squares instead of others. Unlike in previous Civilization games, individual squares cannot be improved, and workers now exist only within the confines of the city menu screen. Despite the worker's reduced role, the bulk of its strategic relevance has been preserved. Now certain buildings and technologies will increase your resource yield, so the challenge lies in choosing what to research and what to build to optimize your city's production. This interweaving of strategic considerations is engrossing and spurs you to constantly refine the myriad facets of your grand plan.
With your first city up and running, you begin to go about the business of expanding your realm. You build warriors to defend your city and explore the surrounding area. Barbarians will threaten you early on, and destroying them will grant you gold, or perhaps a bonus unit. There are also friendly villages that will offer similar bonuses, and sometimes even grant you a new technology. Discovering impressive natural wonders, such as a great forest or a vast desert, will also garner you a gold bonus and the gratifying right to stamp a name on it that will last throughout history. There are also a few ancient artifacts, such as the Lost City of Atlantis, that grant substantial boons to the civilization that discovers them. Although it's already a thrill to explore uncharted lands, these bonus incentives add more urgency to your wanderings and encourage you to keep up a brisk pace.
As you explore, create units, and settle new cities, you'll soon discover that you're not alone. Leaders of other civilizations will contact you with offers of peace, but don't expect these truces to last. Depending on your difficulty level, you may have a few leaders asking to trade techs, or they all may try to bully you out of hearth and home. You can do some bullying of your own from the diplomacy panel, as well as make peace, trade techs, or even pay a leader to wage war on another civilization. However, long-term trade agreements are gone, and previously marketable resources like wine, iron, and silk now merely provide resource bonuses to nearby cities. Degrees of peace, like non-agression pacts and open borders, are also gone, the latter of which is particularly missed during online games, when passing through an ally's territory will cause a declaration of war. The controls for navigating diplomacy are easy, but it does feel a bit limited.
Some diplomatic overtures are less than diplomatic.
If you refuse another civilization's demands for tribute, or want to pursue a domination victory, you'll declare war on your enemies and march your legions off to battle. Every combat unit has a separate attack and defense rating, and it's important to play to their strengths. For example, in the early going, archers are twice as powerful on defense than offense, so leaving them to defend your cities while your more powerful attackers advance to the front may be a good move. Positioning yourself advantageously is rewarding, not only because of terrain bonuses, but also because of the satisfaction you get from winning a carefully executed encounter. Cutting through your opponent's forces and taking their cities is immensely gratifying, though large invasion forces can get cumbersome since you can no longer combine diverse units into a manageable stack.