July 17, 2008

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Civilization Revolution, (PS3/360/DS)
Firaxis, July 9, Rated E10+
By Glenn "Military-Industrial complex" Given production@hippopress.com

Cleopatra breaks her alliance with Gandhi and spurs Genghis Khan and Abe Lincoln to strike against her cities on behalf of their affronted ally.

Who said history was boring.

Marathon army shuffling, tech tree researching and city organizing sessions far past oneís bedtime are the hallmarks of the Civilization series. The global emipre builder that took your chosen society from the bronze swords to ballistic missles on the PC makes it to two thirds of the next gen (and also the DS) in a streamlined but wholly satisfying manner.

As with every installment of the venerated series, different civilizations jockey for planetary domination via economy, diplomacy, technology, cultural development and waging war on the French (or anybody, I suppose). Each culture receives new bonuses as you advance through the four ages which you must turn to your advantage as you attempt to outflank rivals in planetary dominance.

City menus, diplomacy options and unit movement have been moved from the HUD to various controller layouts, which works suprisingly well. You can quickly scroll through your settlements, tapping a few buttons to massage your economic layout and tweak research and enthusiastically engage in the minutae porn that the strategy niche has worshipped since, well, the first Civilization. The criticisms of Revolution no greater than that of its franchise predecessors, namely the purposeful absence of macroeconomic or social control that forces you into the thick of empire planning. As always, the world map can get cluttered pretty fast, a problem exacerbated on the handheld but gerneally manageable. 360 and PS3 versions offer charming animated units and cities, though, beyond this fussy prettying, differences between next-gen consoles and the handheld amount to $30, leaderboards and some downloadable scenarios and wonders. Frankly, Iíll take the pocket portable version because old-school tacticians like yours truly know that the real game here is the numbers, not Catherine the Greatís cartoon cleavage. Fans who want to twiddle the fates of global culture on the couch (or on the road) rather than at their desk would do well to invest here. A ó Glenn Given