Sid Meier’s Civilization Revolution is by far the best strategy game to grace a living room console. This is a console game that history and social studies teachers should encourage their students to enjoy. This is a game that parents should want to play with their children.
It is not overstating Civilization’s importance to describe it as the most engaging, diabolically addictive, finely crafted strategy game series around. Since the series’ debut in 1991, millions of people have straggled in late to work and let homework go by the wayside as they have fallen into the grips of Civilization’s insidious “just one more turn” play style.
Taking the role of a leader of one of history’s great cultures (such as the Romans, the Chinese, the Zulu, the Aztecs, the French, the Mongols, or the Americans), the player begins with a single primitive settler in an unknown world around 4000 BC. The player guides the tribe through the grand sweep of history: building cities, making discoveries like the alphabet and iron-working before uncovering the secrets of math, organized religion, gunpowder, the printing press and later, of course, the Internet.
Rival nations are also trying to build a civilization that can stand the test of time. Civilization Revolution’s great victory is that Meier and his team at Firaxis Games, with support from their publisher Take-Two, have succeeded in translating the classic elements of the Civilization series into a form that performs gloriously on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 and even in hand-held form on the Nintendo DS. Civilization Revolution was clearly designed from the beginning as a console game.
Some of the more esoteric elements of the PC versions, like pollution and starvation, have been left out. But the basic elements of the Civilization experience—“Do I build a barracks or a library?”, “Do I pay tribute to the Mongols next door or go to war?”—have been balanced delicately and polished to a high gloss.
I’ve spent about 30 hours with the 360 and DS versions of the game recently, and I’m nowhere close to bored. At the moment, my Roman empire is trying to fend off an invasion by the Germans while I stall the Indians on the opposite border with gifts of technology. Soon, I’ll smash them both with my armoured tanks. Or maybe I’ll build Hollywood and win over their cities with my cultural influence. What to do? Just one more turn...
Game: Sid Meier’s Civilization Revolution
Platform: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and Nintendo DS
©2008/The New York Times
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