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Sid Meier's Civilization Revolution

Platform(s): Nintendo DS, PSP, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Genre: Strategy
Publisher: 2K Games
Developer: Firaxis

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PS3/X360 Preview - 'Sid Meier's Civilization Revolution'

by Chris "Atom" DeAngelus on June 25, 2008 @ 5:44 a.m. PDT

In Civilization, players strive to become ruler of the world by establishing and leading a civilization from the dawn of man into the space age - waging war, conducting diplomacy, discovering technologies, going head-to-head with some of history's greatest leaders, and building the most powerful empire the world has ever known.

Genre: Turn-Based Strategy
Publisher: 2K Games
Developer: Firaxis
Release Date: July 8, 2008

If you're a gamer or know gamers, chances are that you're familiar with the concept of World of Warcraft addiction, which causes people to lose hours and days of their lives to the unforgiving mistress of raids and grinding. If you're a new gamer, you might not be aware that World of Warcraft isn't the first game to reach this level of addiction. Back in the heyday of the '90s, there was a game that was just as addictive as WoW, if not more so. Civilization, created by Sid Meier, had a fairly simple concept: You create a civilization and take it from the Stone Age to the modern day, attempting to conquer the entire world in the meantime. It was also maddeningly addictive, with countless people playing the game for long periods of time. This was partially influenced by the strong multiplayer mode, but also because of its incredibly long length, with games of Civilization or Civilization II being measured in days, not hours. Given the increased popularity of home consoles, it's been a while since Civilization had a grip on the public, but 2K Games and Firaxis hope to revive the fever with Civilization Revolution.

Before you even begin your game of Civilization Revolution, you must pick the civilization you want to develop. There are 16 separate civilizations, ranging from Americans to Zulus. Each of the civilizations has its own unique set of special attributes, developments and in some cases, even special units. For example, the Aztecs are well suited for battle, and they begin the game with a large amount of gold, the Jaguar Warrior special unit, and the special ability to heal instantly after any battle. As they advance, they gain the ability to have their temples produce science, build roads cheaply and produce more gold. The Chinese, on the other hand, begin with a more technological slant. They begin with knowledge of writing and a population bonus, and as they level up, they gain free literacy, a half-cost library and immunity to anarchy caused by changing governments. Each civilization has its own strengths and weaknesses, and it is important to pick the one that best suits your playing style.

Once you've picked a civilization, you begin on the world map with a settler unit, which is capable of founding a city. Of course, the first thing you must do in a game of Civilization is to found your civilization. Founding a city isn't as easy as plopping down a bunch of buildings wherever you want. It's important to found your city somewhere with access to the three types of resources: food, production and trade. Food resources are places like flat plains and deserts, production resources are mountains and forests, and trade resources are any that don't fit into the above two categories. It's important to find a location with a solid balance of all three. Too little food, and your city can't grow fast enough, but too little production, and you can't build new things, and too little trade, and the city won't be producing gold or science to help improve your civilization.

Cities are the lifeblood of your civilization. You can't survive without them, so it will be quite important to make sure that each city is a thriving metropolis. Each city has a number of different attributes that they generate: culture, money, population, production and science. Culture influences how appealing and attractive your cities are. A high culture rating is more likely to attract Great People to your city and lowers the chance of anarchy and rebellion. Each Great Person who appears in your city offers a unique bonus that is invaluable to your success.

The more money a city produces, the more gold is added to your coffers at the end of every turn. Population is the number of people in your city, and the more people you have, the more natural resources you can access to boost the four other attributes. Production is your city's production capability, which is determined by the buildings within and the available resources around the city. The higher your production, the less time it takes to build new buildings and troops, and the faster your city can flourish. Science is how much your city contributes to the Technological Research of your civilization; the more science, the less time it takes to research new technologies. No two cities will have identical production because no two cities have identical terrains surrounding them. However, even more important than the terrains are the buildings within the city.

Technology is the backbone of your culture. As the years pass, your culture will develop more and more technology, fueled by the Science of your cities. Every time a new technology is developed, new buildings become available for you to build in your cities. Furthermore, if you are the first country to learn a specific technology, you'll receive a special bonus, such as boosted stats, a free unit, or even a map of the entire world. Each building has a special attribute that it brings to your city; a harbor can increase the production of food from water squares, a barracks can instantly make any soldiers trained in that city start with the Veteran status, a library can boost the science output of your city, and so on.

Wonders are a bit different. Incredibly expensive and incredibly powerful, Wonders are based on famous monuments and bring amazing bonuses to your city. The Da Vinci Workshop can boost the attack of your soldiers, the Great Pyramids can give you access to any kind of government, the Hanging Gardens can boost the civilization of your city by 50 percent, and so on. However, most of these Wonders suffer a catch: They only last until someone else develops a certain technology. The East India Company Wonder, for example, becomes obsolete when someone else develops Flight, and the Great Library of Alexandria loses its ability when Universities are discovered. Wonders are a matter of balance due to their costs. Spending 20 turns developing the Oracle of Delphi only to have your opponents discover Religion on the next turn is a painful blow.

Once you've built a city, the world is yours to explore. You can send settlers out to found new cities, soldiers to fight barbarians who threaten your lands, or even build ships to cross the sea. Exploring has a number of benefits. Certain locations you find while exploring can be named, allowing you to forever mark a land with your name and also to earn a substantial gold bonus in addition. Likewise, exploring can find super-valuable artifacts, such as the Lost City of Atlantis and the Ark of the Covenant. Finding these artifacts provides a massive boon to your city, ranging from a number of Great People appearing in your cities to giving you a super-advanced piece of technology. A single artifact can completely change the tide of the game, although there is only a handful in each title, and they tend to get found quick and early. Finally, exploring can introduce you to other civilizations, with whom you can barter for technology or money. In the event of an unfortunate disagreement, they can even become your deadliest enemies.

One of the most common elements in coming in contact with another civilization is, of course, war. No matter how good you are, how advanced your civilization, and how darned hard you try, there are going to be some other civilizations who make it their primary goal in life to take over yours, whether it's for profit, out of anger, or just to wipe that uppity smile off your face because you discovered the printing press while they're still struggling with the alphabet.

War in Civilizations Revolution is pretty simple. You create units, ranging from sword-wielding warriors to paramilitary soldiers in tanks, to B-52 bombers equipped with devastating bombs, depending on your technological level. When your soldiers encounter an enemy soldier, they fight, and whoever has the highest number wins. However, things get a bit more complex once you start factoring in things besides the units. Terrain, for example, matters. A unit fighting on a hill will have better offense and defenses, and the defenders protecting a city with walls will receive a huge bonus to their stats. You can also create terrain advantages by using certain kinds of naval ships, such as carriers and battleships. If you fight near the ocean where one of your carriers is parked, they'll provide an additional bonus to your soldiers.

In addition to terrain advantages, you can create armies to boost the power of your soldiers. By placing three of the same unit type on one square, you can fuse them into an army, which combines their attack and defense into one super-powerful soldier group with the attributes of all three combined. As if that weren't enough, some of your troops can level up! As long as they survive, even if they're a mechanical fighter like a tank, carrier or bomber, they level up every three fights. After the first upgrade, they will receive the Veteran ability, which boosts their stats by 50 percent. At the second, they'll get to pick a special ability that alters the name of the unit. For example, an Aztec warrior that picks the Blitz ability will be allowed to move again after winning combat and will now be called a Lightning Aztec Warrior. An American horseman with the Medic ability that allows him to heal anywhere is dubbed an Immortal American Horseman. After the second level-up, there is one more power-up an army can receive. If an army wins a particularly close or tough battle, there is a slim chance that it'll receive a Great General, who further boosts their already-impressive stats, for that extra bit of power.

There are four different ways to win the game in Civilization Revolution. The "easiest” is a Domination victory, where you take over a certain number of another civilization's main cities to win. This isn't as easy as it sounds, and while it can be the quickest way to win, once the technological levels start getting high, you're going to face a lot more opposition. The second way is an Economic victory. By reaching at least 20,000 gold in your bank, you get the ability to create a World Bank Wonder, which instantly awards you victory. The third is a Cultural victory. For each Great Person, Wonder or any city that willingly converts (not captured) by your civilization, you earn a point. Once you've reached 20 Culture victory points, you can build the United Nations Wonder, which also awards you a victory. Finally, there is a Technological Victory, which involves researching Spaceship Technology and sending a colony ship to Alpha Centauri. The ship you build can be customized to hold more people and travel faster by creating parts for it in your cities. Once it is built, you launch it toward Alpha Centauri. Assuming nobody else wins in the number of years it takes your ship to safely reach Alpha Centauri, a Technological victory is yours. While a Technological victory earns you the most points, particularly when you have a high number of colonists, it also requires the most effort to succeed.

Beyond the main game, Civilization Revolution also offers a few other gameplay modes. Scenario games have with a slight twist. Take, for example, the Beta Centauri scenario, which assumes that your settlers are colonizing a brand new planet. You begin with access to all of the technologies in the game, but you must also deal with an increase in "alien" barbarians, and since you're already on a new planet, you can't achieve a Technology win. The Golden Age is a scenario where barbarians are less violent, Great People are more commonly appearing, and Technology advances faster. Each of these scenarios offers a fun and unique twist on the Civilization gameplay, and they're a good way to mix things up after you've proven your domination over the regular single-player mode. There are also Game of the Week scenarios that change every week and give you a prepared situation that you have to succeed in. Players can then upload their scores from the Game of the Week to the Xbox Live leaderboards to show off their civilizations.

Finally, and most certainly to be the most popular mode, is the multiplayer gameplay. Up to four people can play Civilization against one another in a variety of ways, such as four-player free for all, a one-on-one match, teaming up, or even with a mix of human and computer players. Civilizations can be chosen, and less-skilled players can even choose to add a handicap to their characters to allow them a greater chance of competing against other players. While you can only play the vanilla Civilization Revolution online, the length and twists to the game, especially in a four-player mode, are sure to keep players busy for a long, long time.

Civilization Revolution is Civilization. While it's a bit simplified for consoles, it's still the same game that caused so many people to spend days of their lives trapped at their computers, to the point where they actually published scholarly articles on Civilization addiction. It's easy to learn, difficult to master, and incredibly fun. The simplified controls may actually make it easier for new gamers to pick up, while the quick and easy interface allows players to jump from unit to unit with ease. If you're a fan of strategy games, you owe it to yourself to give Civilization Revolution a try. Just be warned that you may look up and find out that you've been playing for three hours when you just intended to try a few quick turns.


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