Civilization: Revolution

Can Sid Meier revolutionise console RTS?

Civilization: Revolution is the sort of game you can play sitting in your armchair in front of the box, sipping a cool long drink, while the world outside passes by.

For anyone unfamiliar with Civ, it's a turn-based strategy series where the ultimate goal is to beat the other civilizations you're playing against into becoming a superpower. It's a simple premise that has spawned numerous releases on PC and accrued a huge fan base during the series' lifetime.

But for the latest game, Revolution, Civ creator Sid Meier and his team at Firaxis have chosen to break with tradition and bring the series to console. Meier himself believes turn-based strategy needs to be there on consoles. "The audience is ready to step up to strategy gaming".


Rather than attempt to port an existing Civilization game on PC to console, Firaxis has built Revolution from the ground up. While much of the series' traditional heavyweight stats have been cut away for console, the core Civ gameplay remains intact.

Building, resource gathering, decision making, technology trees, Wonders, the ability to succeed/win through economic, diplomatic, military methods or via researching technology and being the first to reach Alpha Centauri, the exploration of maps - all the foundations are present, but delivered in such a way that you never feel bogged down by micromanagement.

Revolution features 16 different civilizations and leaders you can pick from to turn into a superpower - from Cleopatra to Bismarck and Alexander the Great, yadda, yadda - and each civilization has its own unique strategies and powers. So essentially your play style dictates which of the 16 options you plump for.

Each leader is beautifully represented and animated, appearing on-screen when the need arises; and the game features a cartoon-esque art style not far removed from that of Warcraft III and WoW.

Part of Firaxis' design goal for Revolution is to speed up the Civ experience, and to this end not only has it done a grand job of streamlining the controls for the Xbox 360's controller - it's a cinch to play - it's introduced new gameplay features in the name of fastiness.

One of these key new features is the ability to create armies by "stacking" three units occupying the same tile on a map (Revolution's maps are tile-based, just in case you were wondering, the tiles are larger than in PC iterations in the series to speed up movement and exploration).

The idea here is that the "stacked" units become a single, powerful entity. Adding depth to this feature, units essentially accrue experience from battle and can be upgraded with special abilities. The March special ability, for example, bumps up the unit's move points by one, and hence they can move an extra tile per turn.


Here's the deal then: three units, each with a different special ability, can be combined together to form an army that boasts three different skills. "You can have Ninja-Medic-Marching super-modern infantry that could take on the world", Firaxis has explained to us previously.

The dev has said that, in total, there are nine different special abilities to date for units, and the upgrades are represented on-screen via visual changes to uniform.

New features don't end there either. Great people - e.g. Plato - featuring in Civilization is nothing new, but whereas in previous games in the series they'd be used for peaceful routes to success, in Revolution they can be used as Generals at the head of a player's army, or as spies that can sneak about the land.

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