While PC gaming's cup runneth over with strategy titles, it's a cruelly under-represented genre on consoles. Mapping a menu-laden control system to a pad then convincing trigger-happy 360 gamers that these are games they should play has obviously proved a task of Herculean proportions. Indeed, you can count the number of decent and successful console strategy games in the last ten years on one hand. Doffed caps to Firaxis, then, for making such a good fist of bringing its legendary turn-based empire-builder to 360.
For the uninitiated, in a nutshell Civilization sees you take control of a race of people in the year 4000BC and lead them through to the year 2050. Along the way you expand your domain by building cities and increase your knowledge by researching new technologies, which in turn allows you to build increasingly sophisticated buildings and military units.
As with life itself, the game is a complex balancing act, where technological and military advances need to be weighed against keeping citizens happy, healthy and wealthy. Victory against rival civilisations can be achieved in a number of ways, but essentially it boils down to either out-thinking or out-gunning them.
If this all sounds rather familiar to seasoned Civ players, that's because the core game is the same for Revolution as in the PC titles. Amen for that! The menu system is broadly similar, but instead of all the pointing and clicking, specific menus are mapped to the triggers while unit movement is controlled by the left stick and looking around the map works with the right. The face buttons deal with commands. It's superbly executed, always fluid and never frustrating, and for beginners there are the usual set of advisors (effectively ministers that assist in each area of government - military, foreign affairs and so on) to help out with initial bewilderment.
However, there are several key differences and a few new additions that have streamlined and simplified the game to make it a significantly more fast-paced affair. The most prominent of these concerns workers and citizens. While you can automate your workers in the PC game, they can't be trusted to build the right improvements, so a great deal of laborious micro-management is required. Here they get on with exploiting resources themselves, and can be macro-managed to focus on a particular area (food, gold etc). While this might horrify the hardcore, on console, it's turned out to be a total godsend.
Religion has also been stripped down to simply acquiring the knowledge of religion rather than aligning with the various sects and constructing a bunch of different religious buildings, and indeed generally speaking there are less unit and building types for all areas of the game. Elsewhere there's the introduction of ancient artefacts, which when discovered will bestow a bonus on your society, while a trophy room allows you to view gifts sent to you by other rulers.
Away from the main single-player campaign you'll find a number of scenarios to tackle, there's the promise of a free downloadable 'game of the week' and the Live multiplayer options are comprehensive. While far from as deep as the PC games, Revolution is a fine achievement, extremely accessible and great fun to play. With Halo Wars and World In Conflict to follow, perhaps this is the start of a new era for console strategy. How civilised.
Sid and co come up trumps with an accomplished take on a brilliant PC original.
- Cheerful, detailed graphics
- Great control system
- Not as deep as on PC