Electronic Theatre In-depth Review: Sid Meier’s Civilization Revolution

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Electronic Theatre ImageDespite the fact that Civilization Revolution has been available for every major console format for a number of years now, the latest has been relatively late coming to mobile formats. An iOS release acted as pre-cursor to the Xbox LIVE enabled launch on Windows Phone 7, and just as it was on Apple’s mobile platform here it demands pride of place in any strategy gamer’s collection. Just because it’s made for a pocket sized format, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a disposable piece of software.

Many titles launched for mobile formats over the past few years have been heralded as fantastic gameplay experiences, and while this is true it doesn’t mean that they’re groundbreaking piece of work in any regard. The likes of Angry Birds and Fruit Ninja have become astonishing successes, but Electronic Theatre Imagethis is due as much to their simplistic nature as it is to the quality of their design. Civilization Revolution is the antithesis of these titles, delivering a full-blown console experience in the palm of your hand.

The videogame plays as a turn-based strategy title. Civilization Revolution is about building an empire that will stand the test of time, overcoming technological hurdles and overpowering enemy forces to reach one of four ultimate goals, pioneering in science, wealth, culture or good old fashioned muscle. Selecting one of the sixteen nations available – each of which offer a unique bonus as you travel through each of the videogame’s four eras – players begin with a single city, both humble and ignorant. Building a unit to explore the land is typically the first action to engage in, and at this point it’s likely that only a basic warrior is worth investing in. These warriors move one square at a time, as the whole map is divided into an unseen grid – cities take a single square as do boats, tanks and camels – and both the land and water can be traversed a set number of squares each turn.

Exploration of the map will inevitably lead to the discovery of other developing civilisations, and in turn lead to war. Friendly nations will occasionally be open for trade or a sharing of knowledge, but warring nations will be increasingly aggressive as they player works their way through the five provided difficulty settings. Combat is played out in an animated cutscene: simply moving your unit atop an enemy unit will initiate the battleElectronic Theatre Image sequence, which is essentially determined by the basic statistic of each unit plus environmental bonuses, topped off with a roll of the computational dice. One player could have an attack value of ‘36’ with a fifty percent combat bonus and ad advantage for being mounted upon a hill, but that enemy unit with a defensive value of ‘6’ could still do significant damage to it’s number if luck is on it’s side. Units that win successive combat can earn additional skills, such as increased attacking power when fighting cities or the ability to heal anywhere on the map, including in enemy territory.

In addition to using the strong arm of your army for blunt force, as stated above there are a number of other ways to win each challenge. Most actions are measured in turns, and the amount of turns these actions will take depends on the amount of relevant resources you have allocated to them. Each city can produce science, finance or both, and the amount of which is produced is determined by how much of the population is dedicated to doing so. However, Electronic Theatre Imageassigning all of your constituents to researching a new technology can slow down the development of your city, or the single new asset that each city can produce at any one time, be it a new moveable unit or a building. Civilization Revolution is a balancing act, and here this fact is more evident than anywhere else.

The technologies researched as your civilisation expands will grant you the opportunity to develop new units and buildings, which in turn can lead to the opportunity to research further technologies. Just as with the combat, the land surrounding each city has attributes that will aid you in regards to achieving specific goals: fertile grassland will allow cities to develop quickly, mountains will provide resources for building new units and access to the sea will bring trade to your city. There is so much information to absorb in Civilization Revolution that when seen here in text it could well appear overly complicated, but that’s not the case at all. In fact, Civilization Revolution is one of the most accessible strategy videogames ever seen.

Every little bit of information is depicted so elegantly through minimal text and immediately recognisable imagery that it will only be two or three playthroughs until the player has grasped every aspect of the videogame, both of benefit and hindrance. The difficulty settings are arranged so precisely that players will be willing to up the challenge quickly, providing strong leaders to work against and measuring their ownElectronic Theatre Image ability to overcome adversity. In addition to the functional aspect of the visual design however, Civilization Revolution also presents a charmingly unique character. Though it could be said that the 2D stills of the advisors and rulers are missing some of the stature of the animated home console equivalents, the combat units lose nothing from the transition to 2D.

While Civilization Revolution might not be the kind of experience you’d think would adapt well to mobile formats, nothing could be further from the truth. It’s a hugely compelling piece of software design, adapted perfectly to the touchscreen interface without losing any of its addictive qualities. The biggest problem the Electronic Theatre team has with Civilization Revolution was having to put it down. Put simply, Civilization Revolution is not only the finest videogames currently available for Windows Phone 7, but one of the best strategy titles on any mobile format.

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