World-building games are nothing if not massive and involved.
Even a fast-paced game on a small map in “Civilization IV” can take hours; an epic-length match set in a large world can take days or weeks. And the controls needed to command such an empire are complicated, with lots of little buttons to click and menus to open.
These aren't the kind of games that are supposed to work on a console. Too complex. Too cerebral.
Well, “Civilization Revolution” has pulled it off. And while it loses some depth and breadth in the transition, the “Civ” experience is intact.
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“Revolution” has the same framework as the PC “Civ” games. Players work to build an empire turn by turn, starting with a single city and vying with rival civilizations for supremacy. There are multiple paths to victory, including eradication of all other nations, cultural or economic domination, and a technological victory that has the victor blasting into space for another world.
The mechanics of how all this works are familiar, just scaled down and streamlined for a console audience – and a console control scheme, which has been adapted well to the purpose.
The graphics are nice, with a slightly exaggerated style. Cities clearly display the structures and Wonders they hold. Combat between units is accompanied by good animation and sound effects.
The DS version of “Revolution” plays the same as the console game, though there are differences. Most obviously, the visuals in the DS game are hardly more than functional; they get the job done, but this version is not a looker.
More importantly, there's no Civilopedia, the detailed database that gives players information about everything. It's a shame this was left out.
New features add to appeal
Where “Civilization Revolution” is all about streamlining “Civ,” “Twilight of the Arnor” is all about deepening the experience of “Galactic Civilizations II.” There's a new campaign that finishes the “GalCiv II” story line, but much of the game's added depth is best seen in its free-play mode.
This expansion brings a host of new features, not the least of which is an impressive visual overhaul. The original game was starting to look a bit dated after 21/2 years. Not anymore – the game looks much better with “Twilight” added.
The core is unchanged. It's a lot like “Civilization” in space, with players sending out colony ships to build settlements on new worlds, researching technologies, building planetary structures and military ships, and dealing with neighboring races.
The original game and its first expansion, “Dark Avatar,” had each of the races – from the diplomatic Humans to the warlike Drengin – following the same research paths, building the same structures and generally having the same options.
“Twilight” changes that. Each race has an individualized technology tree to research, with technologies to discover and special planetary improvements to build.
Players can also create custom races, and the game lets industrious fans create their own maps and campaign scenarios, technologies, tech trees and planetary improvements with a set of game editors.