Civilization Revolution 2 Review
Civilization is an addiction that’s hard to break. Sid Meier’s classic 4X strategy series offers a refined slow drip of achievements and a sense of progression that urges you to keep playing until “just one more turn” turns into one in the morning. Unfortunately, Civilization’s deep micromanaging systems and long play sessions don’t easily translate to the mobile market. Enter Civilization Revolution. In 2008, Firaxis released this console friendly Civilization experience that removed some of the more complex elements of the game such as farming, religion, city-states, and pollution. While it didn’t revolutionize strategy gaming, this retooled version of Civilization proved successful enough on mobile devices that the official sequel is a mobile exclusive. While I’m happy to have a new strategy game to play on the go, most of this game isn’t actually new.
If you’re building your empire for the first time, Civilization essentially makes you overlord of a small human settlement in 4000 B.C. and tasks you with raising this small outpost into a bustling kingdom that will withstand millennia of technological and cultural change. The best part about the series is you can win in more than one way. You can stomp your rival empires under the heel of your military boots, win them over with your cultural or financial superiority, or race them into space. You don’t have to micromanage your population growth like you do in the PC versions, but Civilization Revolution 2 retains all of the rich overarching strategy the series is known for. If anything, Civilization Revolution 2’s paired down structure makes the game more approachable, and I didn’t really miss picking my civilization’s religion or making sure that every mouth was fed.
Civ Rev 2’s most notable change is its 3D graphical upgrade. The first iOS port was based on the Nintendo DS version, which used 2D sprites. The new 3D world looks great, and the art style falls more in line with Civilization V. Aside from the facelift, however, not much sets this game apart from the original Civilization Revolution. It has a smattering of new leaders – such as Winston Churchill and JFK – as well as a few new technologies and units. However, these additions don’t add anything compelling to the experience. For example, the new Modern Medicine and Information Technology technologies let you build a couple new wonders, and the new units – such as the Jet Fighters and SpecOps Infantry – feel like slightly tweaked versions of pre-existing units.
The overall simplification to the strategy means that there are fewer menus to scroll through, but Civ Rev 2’s touch controls still occasionally caused me problems. You can queue up moves for your units several turns in advance, which comes in handy, but since Civ Rev 2 also automatically advances units at the beginning of each turn, it can take a while to turn your forces around if you need to redirect them. I also accidentally tapped the screen a few times and sent a squad wandering off in the wrong direction.
You can finish a game of Civilization Revolution 2 in a matter of hours, which is a nice change of pace because the basic elements of the game remain as addictive as ever. Unfortunately, part of the reason a game is so short is because the claustrophobic maps feel more like farm plots than world maps. It’s hard to get more than a few cities on any one continent, and your navel fleet can encircle the globe in a matter of turns. This means it won’t take long for you to uncover all of the artifacts or encounter all of the other countries on the map.
Civilization Revolution 2’s flaws don’t detract from its addictive nature. At one point in the game, you might be racing Cleopatra for a financial victory, and then have to divert some of your funds into a war chest after Ghandi declares war (which is funny every time.) Or you might find that both Abraham Lincoln and Montezuma are attacking you from two fronts and decide to avoid combat altogether by racing for the stars, winning the game by building an international space station. Like its predecessors, every game of Civilization Revolution 2 is full of great moments worth recounting to your friends. Unfortunately, Civilization fans will discover that they’ve told many of these stories before.