Game Reviews

Sid Meier's Civilization Revolution 2

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Sid Meier's Civilization Revolution 2

Civilization is the only series I can think of where a team of riflemen can use their muskets to shoot down a B-52 Bomber.

If you've never played it before, that might sound weird. But this is a truly epic turn-based strategy game that takes you from a settler in a mud hut in 4000 BC to president of a continent-spanning, tech-savvy empire in the 22nd century.

And as 2K always strives for smart design and careful balancing over historical accuracy, you're bound to see a few medieval knights beating up a platoon of World War II tanks sooner or later.

Classic FM

Unlike a lot of other strategy games, Civ Rev 2 isn’t all about murdering your opponent. You can instead strive for a cultural victory, or economic prosperity, or be the first nation to win the space race.

Along the way you'll research new technologies, build and maintain cities, perform diplomacy with rival leaders, fight wars, trade resources, explore the world, and generally lose hours upon hours of your life.

There's much more to Civilization proper, but these Revolution spin-offs, designed for consoles and mobile, seek to streamline and simplify matters by removing tricky bits like farming, religion, city states, pollution, and starving citizens.

As such, Civilization Revolution 2 might be a little basic for fans of the PC games. And the small maps might feel a little cramped and claustrophobic compared to the globe-sized battlefields of the originals.

But it's perfect for someone new to the genre. And it's also good for Civ nuts who want a taste of world domination in one hour, rather than seven.

Get medieval

You also lose some of that historical splendour. Civilization V feels like a lavish BBC 1 documentary, while Revolution is more like going to a medieval fair in your local park.

In Civilization V Montezuma speaks in the Aztec language of Nahuatl. In Revolution 2, he bibbles nonsense noises like a Teletubby.

Most of this could describe the first Civilization Revolution. That's because this new game just isn't all that different. It doesn't feel much like a sequel, or even an expansion pack.

Instead, it takes the first game and dolls it up with fancy new 3D graphics, and controls that are ostensibly more suited to mobile.

Those controls can be a little annoying at times though. You can't tap on an enemy unit to see their affinity or skills unless you approach them for battle, and you can't start diplomacy by tapping on a city name.

An errant tap can sometimes send a unit trotting off to the other side of the world. Plus, there are silly gestures you have to remember (pinch your city to see famous citizens), when a button would have worked just fine.

Renaissance man

There are some other additions, of course. There are new leaders like Winston Churchill and JFK; new units, technologies, and buildings; an in-game Civilopedia; and new scenarios - including topical events, like the revolutionary war challenge that's happening around July 4th.

But for the most part, it's the same game we reviewed in 2009. Albeit with better graphics, better controls (not a huge achievements - Civ Rev for iOS was a shambles), and more toys to play with.

The AI is about the same too. It's sufficient, but not nearly as smart as it is in the PC games. Sometimes it's overly aggressive as well, and the rival leaders rarely attack each other - you're often the only target when there's a war going on.

But for all its simplification, Civilization Revolution 2 is still enormous amount of addictive fun. And it still leads to brilliant emergent stories you'll be recounting to your friends the next day.

Modern family

Maybe you're an hour into making your empire a cultural wonderland, and that asshole Ghandi suddenly decides to declare war on your nation. You have to turn your whole plan on its head while you scramble to reboot your military program.

Or Cleopatra is about to win a cultural victory, so you sneak attack Thebes with a fleet of submarines. Or you start a nuclear arms race with the Zulus. Or you wipe a struggling Lincoln off the planet before any other leaders get to see his stovepipe hat.

It all makes for a tense, deeply strategic, and delightfully fun game. And it's still one of the most accessible strategy series around. It's just a shame that the controls are still a nuisance, and that we saw most of this five years ago.

Sid Meier's Civilization Revolution 2

It's hard to recommend Civilization Revolution 2 to those who already played the original. But if this is your first dose of Civ, you're in for a treat
Mark Brown
Mark Brown
Mark Brown spent several years slaving away at the Steel Media furnace, finally serving as editor at large of Pocket Gamer before moving on to doing some sort of youtube thing.