Civilization games are well known to all lovers of good strategy games. The desktop version is more than two decades old, spanning over six iterations over the years, but there’s also the off-shot Revolution series, launched on consoles back in 2008. Revolution boiled down the Civilization formula to its basics, ridding it of elements like civics and religion. This series takes a lot of visual elements from the cartoonish style and feel of Civ IV, and keeps the ever-shifting cultural borders introduced by Civ III.
Civilization Revolution is a game you can easily finish in one sitting. It’s a fast-paced, dynamic, and fun piece of app. You might not be able to painstakingly ascend your bunch of Mayan cavemen into the Zoroastrian technocracy space colonists, but you’ll be able to build the Pyramids in Bosnia, discover gunpowder, and lead the tanks into Washington by lunchtime.
People unfamiliar with the Civilization franchise (or state-building strategy games at all) will not feel overwhelmed by the learning curve. Civilization Revolutions 2 gently introduces acolytes to the basics of city building, research, exploration, and expansion. For that, it uses Tutorial mode, which does a great job of showing the ropes, if not hand-holding players. Once you learn the basics of the game, you’ll get a number of challenges to help you understand the mechanics. These challenges often take the form of a need to build a certain number of particular buildings before a certain year for permanent game bonuses.
Besides serving as a way to introduce new players to the effects of buildings, these challenges also provide a convenient distraction for the veterans of the Civilization games, who would find Civilization Revolution too easy. Even the Deity mode in this game is a walk in the park compared to the main line of Civilization games. One of the striking differences that divide CivRev games from the main series is how quickly you’ll advance through the epochs. You’re just about to rally your armies for the defense of Constantinople when you get notified you’re now in the Industrial era and that you have to invent the steam engine. This might harm the immersion of players used to the deliberate and comprehensive gameplay. These players would feel like they’re in the time machine tuned to the max speed. In the settings, you can slow down the rate of scientific advances if you want a more measured approach, but this results with an unflattering spectacle of fighting with catapults in the 20th Century, making a Technology Victory almost impossible.
It’s still a game about cultural competition, taking the core value of Civilization games: the challenge of building a nation from prehistory to the borderline cyberpunk, while competing with other nations in the fields of technology, culture, and military might. The victorious nation is the one that wins the space race to Alpha Centauri, blesses the world with twenty Wonders and Great People, amasses a tremendous pile of cash, or captures four rival capitals. While all victories are possible, the game guides their players to the more aggressive approach. From the earliest days of your civilization, you must always prepare for the ever-present threat of conflict. Imagine 13 days of Cuban Rocket Crisis stretched into eternity, and you’ll get the picture.
It’s something that makes Civilization Revolution 2 work and feel like the very first Civilization game. As soon as you start to spread your vision, pushing back the fog of war, you’ll meet rivals that are in equal measure stupid and aggressive, something like the Persian Empire led by Bebop and Rocksteady from Ninja Turtles. Each of them has the vision of the world united under their flag, and your diplomatic options are very limited. Especially if you consider that each one of them is much more interested in fighting you than each other, and their cities are just little more than recruitment centers, since they put military power as a priority over any form of culture or technology.
At lower difficulty levels, their ignorance makes them a mere obstacle against your ambitions, but up the challenge and they evolve into aggressive, ruthless, and demanding opponents, even though they never quite rise to appreciable intelligence. They won’t gang up against you. They won’t bluff. They certainly won’t surprise you.
Civilization Revolution 2 has mixed performance, doing something well, and something less so. The fact it’s much simpler than usual Civilization games will turn away a lot of classic fans, but that simplification will appeal to the players who want a quicker game. At its best, this game can be challenging and interesting, but it’s not compelling enough for dedicated players. Civilization Revolution 2 is more of a side-game than the outright obsession provoker you’ll play for days. It still has a global scale gameplay, and you can tap your way into world domination, but simplification and fast pace somewhat diminish the feeling of triumph once you defeat all of your opponents.