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Seventeen years ago Sid Meier let Civilization loose on the world. Since then the franchise is said to have sold over 8 million copies. Now, after a whole lot of waiting we finally get this epic strategy title on the handheld.
Like many strategy titles this game is of the arena turn based persuasion - the game is played somewhat like chess, once it's over you set the pieces up for the next game. How successful such games are at finding their way onto my perpetual gaming shelf depends how engrossing and varied each match is.
Although I can usual tell from the off whether this is going to be something I can sink my teeth (and wider life) into, here I've had to have a not a few games to fathom just how well thought out it actually is. And before we go further I need to note that this being a handheld iteration it's always going to be a paried down experience compared to the awesome depth of game play on previous Civ PC games. In terms of scope and expansivity it's apples and oranges. But here we are looking for an experience you can loose yourself in rather than simply replicating the PC and Console game.
You start to think more about strategies than game mechanics and start to get a feel for which units and policies to employ to win the game.
Right from the off this is a wonderfully presented game. The DS manages to kick out some perfectly functional and attractive graphics - including a host of icons and symbols to make the game play well oiled. In fact I understand that apart from the graphics and interface the internal game engine is the same as the 360 and PS3 - three cheers for the DS. The only graphical problem for me was the scrolling of the screen can cause nausea until your brain get used it, as the screen whizzes round at speed to centre on whichever unit you've just selected. The voices of the different Civs are brilliantly goofy - you will find yourself laughing out loud.
The main menu takes you into either a themed historic or random map. For my first game I went with Gandhi as my leader on a randomly generated map to take the people of India into the future. There's no tutorial, just occasional hints and tips as you play, so unless you've had a good crack at a Civ game before, you spend most of this first game working out the mechanics and rules of this new world.
It all starts to make sense by the time you start your second game. I managed to win my first by blundering through on Chieftain (easy) level, here you can dominate by sheer number of troops. Even on easy the AI managed to outflank me a few times - you get the impression as the difficulty is cranked up new tactics will be needed to match. The game can be won by a number of interesting routes; cultural, technological, economic or domination, I went for domination from the outset, but Civ veterans will cleverly chose the appropriate route as the situation arises.
Civilization Revolution truly grows on you the more play. You start to think more about strategies than game mechanics and start to get a feel for which units and policies to employ to win the game. You warm to a particular Civilization, India was my choice as they get nice bonuses such as half-cost settlers and resistance to anarchy. This suited my play style of growth over strength, meaning I lost cities easily but had enough not to let it worry me.
This little portable game certainly has a big heart and gets very close to perpetual gaming on the go.
My inbuilt need for a game I can grow into was well catered for here. The DS version manages to provide a genuinely expansive wide open space in which to live, explore and grow. It holds up well with its big brothers because the family resemblance is more than a similar lick of paint.
But ironically, perhaps the best testament to the game was that it served as a perfect reminder of the larger experience to be had on console and PC. The more you play Revolution on the DS the more you want to delve into the PC experience, and again sit glued for days without blinking. Even so, this little portable game certainly has a big heart and gets very close to perpetual gaming on the go. This is perfect for lunch break gaming, provided you can tear yourself away when it's time to get back to work.
With so many different perspectives it can be hard to know where to start - a little like walking into a crowded pub. Sorry about that.
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