Have you ever thought that you could do things so much better if you were in charge? Have you always wondered how your economic policies would fare in a global market? How about this: what would happen if you were the sole decider in choosing the technological and social advancement for an entire populace–no, a civilization? Would you crush your foes beneath your military heel? Or would you achieve diplomatic solutions for every problem, especially the impossible ones? Do you want to find the answers to these questions on your morning bus commute?
A scaled-down interpretation of PC gaming’s most revered strategy franchise, Civilization Revolution for the DS is a schizophrenic, hyperactive romp through prehistory, the stone age, and beyond. More importantly, it allows scholars of today to answer the age-old (ha!) question: could Abraham Lincoln really kick the living shit out of Genghis Khan? The answer is a gritty, in your face maybe.
For those handheld gamers unfamiliar with the series, let me edify you: Civilization places you into the shoes of some of history’s most well-known leaders, such as the aforementioned Lincoln and Khan, along with Cleopatra, Napoleon, and a plethora of other famous dead people and plops you down thousands of years B.C. with only a pocket full of dreams and an obnoxious tutorial to guide you to the modern age. There’s no part of that last sentence I didn’t like.
PC iterations are famous for their strategic and tactical subtlety, requiring the player to micromanage everything from city production to jobs for each of your precocious little worker men. Thankfully, the DS version balls all the busywork up and throws it in the trash–you make the big decisions: set up a basic growth path for your cities and march your unstoppable hordes across the map. The name of the game here is exploration and careful decision making to give your civilization the right technologies for the right circumstance. Do you take iron working and other militaristic techs, or do you take literacy and boost your civ’s culture? How you develop your tech tree plays a major role in late-game diplomacy.
Unfortunately, many of those diplomacy options represent the most basic of actions. Trading technology, talking about world events… These are fine, but making defensive pacts against rival civilizations is a pipe dream. Using an alliance forged in the Stone Age to eliminate rival civs only to backstab your B.C. buddy would have made for some sweet, sweet gameplay.
The single-player modes provide enough incentive to keep coming back: randomized maps, different opponents, five difficulty levels, and a robust scenario mode that places you in the role of specific civilizations striving for a particular victory condition. Making you work towards a domination victory when your specialty is economic victories provides a fresh spin on the game. And much like amazing puzzle game Professor Layton and the Mysterious Village, each week provides you a new map to conquer. The multiplayer mode, when played with competitors in the same room (or apartment), provide enough real diplomatic dilemmas to keep the stylus in hand for months.
If you choose to use the stylus, that is. CivRev wisely offers you classic D-pad controls as well as utilizing the touch screen. Using the stylus is imprecise, and accidentally sending your ninja warrior army scurrying the wrong direction could have catastrophic effects on higher difficulties. The D-Pad provides more, er, control over the onscreen action, but sending orders to units stacked on the same tile is cumbersome. No matter what means you choose, the controls have a steep learning curve.
While not the prettiest game or the deepest experience, CivRev provides enough strategic frills to keep porcelain generals enthralled, and if you are willing to read the manual front-to-back (or sit through the painfully long tutorial when you start it up), even the most dimwitted of despots will have a lot of fun with this game.
Mr. Face say this game **good**.
Mr. Face never wrong!