Game Reviews

Civilization Revolution

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Civilization Revolution

Never again will you question the real world value of that university essay on 13th century expansion of the Mongol Empire. Thanks to Civilization Revolution, history has a proper place at the gaming table. How else would you know that Xanadu is so much more than a musical, but a headquarters from which to unleash an army of epic proportions?

Civilization Revolution extends the immensely popular strategy series to iPhone, allowing you to chart the course of human history through turn-based strategy. The game has been redesigned around the core console version in an effort to take advantage of the iPhone's unique features. History has a way of marching forward, though, and it does so here in this troubled iPhone iteration.

The promise of an intuitive touchscreen interface is far from fulfilled, however, and is characterised instead by clutter and confusion. Too many windows and various bits of information have been laid across the screen, cluttering the view. Frequently these windows overlap, causing information to get lost. It's not uncommon for a city information panel to cover up a unit, for example.

Troublesome controls add to the exasperation. Simple actions like opening up menus and selecting units often require multiple taps before the game registers the selection. During battles, the button for skipping the animation regularly fails to respond. Civilization Revolution is generally clumsy, failing to deliver the sort of smooth, effortless control demanded of touchscreen turn-based strategy.

At least it gets things right on that front. While Civilization Revolution falters in moulding itself to iPhone, the gameplay remains as rich as it ever was on Nintendo DS. Immense strategic depth is right at your fingertips, though it comes with a bit of micromanagement. Some tedious work must be done when it comes to building structures and managing resources, the latter in serious need of simplification.

Only when you're able to devote your energy to overall strategy does the game turn over. Forging plans for world domination against a slate of tough computer-led nations can be thrilling. Options other than military force lend the game greater sophistication than your average strategy title. The ability to pursue economic, scientific, or cultural domination ensures variety - no one game plays out in the exact same fashion.

Oddly enough, multiplayer is missing from the equation. Civilization Revolution is ideally structured for friendly clashes - after all, the Nintendo DS version featured support for online play via Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection - yet no option for wireless or Bluetooth head-to-head play is provided. Not even a hot seat mode is offered.

Omitting multiplayer is admittedly less egregious than the shortcomings of its interface design, though both conspire against the game. Without multiplayer, you're left to contend with a cumbersome interface and equally awkward controls through the course of lengthy single player games.

Civilization Revolution hasn't been properly fitted to iPhone and it shows. While it's playable, having to tolerate several glaring deficiencies makes it more a devolution of the series than mobile revolution.

Civilization Revolution

Civilization Revolution is a non-starter on iPhone, failing to turn the rich strategic gameplay of the series into an accessible touch-enabled experience
Tracy Erickson
Tracy Erickson
Manning our editorial outpost in America, Tracy comes with years of expertise at mashing a keyboard. When he's not out painting the town red, he jets across the home of the brave, covering press events under the Pocket Gamer banner.