Developer: 2K GAMES
Price: $12.99
Version Reviewed: 2.0.0
Device Reviewed On: iPad

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★☆
Game Controls Rating: ★★★★★
Gameplay Rating: ★★★★½
Replay Value Rating: ★★★★★

Overall Rating: ★★★★½

True story: Back in the good ol’ days of the early 90s, a very good friend of mine once played so much of the original Sid Meier’s Civilization that hours later he thought he saw a giant icon of a Civ-style chariot pass him on a mountain road in Boulder, CO. Civilization is just that addictive. Whether you’re a veteran gamer or a casual one, Civilization fosters that “just one more round” mentality that’s hard to shake. And now that it’s on the iPad, this is an addiction you can carry everywhere. Caveat emptor!

If the last time you played Civilization was on a dorm room computer circa 1995, you’re in for a shock. At its essence, this is still the same game you know and love (start a civilization, grow it into a powerhouse of science, war, etc, and take over the world), but it has definitely undergone a much-needed graphical overhaul. The most recent console and computer iterations of the game (now known as Civilization Revolution) have emphasized gameplay over micromanagement, and the iPad version looks and plays similarly.

The first time you play the game you are treated to an introduction to the controls and the basic gameplay mechanics via an in-game tutorial. While some of the advice you are given in this opening round seems perfunctory, I recommend reading all of it. I played a great deal of Civ years ago, but there are still enough tweaks and updates in this new version to make it almost a new game to me. One of the most drastic changes is the use of a touch interface. I was wary of this, as the tried-and-true mouse always worked so well with the game in the past. However, I’m happy to say that the touch controls are elegant, spot-on and, best of all, intuitive. I would not have thought it, but this is a perfect game for touch controls.

Gameplay is streamlined, but don’t get too discouraged if you like to micromanage everything. The game is set up from the start for the new player: you choose a civilization to develop and are given a starting city. From there, what you build or research is up to you, though there are plenty of advisors to help you if you are unsure. After building up your defenses, you eventually explore the rest of your world, settling new cities, battling barbarians and trying (or not, as the case may be) to make peace with your often much larger neighbors. Once you tell your city what unit to produce, it will continue creating more and more of these units until you tell it to change. Touching a city will bring up a production map where you can change units being produced, and get very, very deep into the management of your society, including fine tuning production goals and allocating incremental resources. The great thing about Civ Revolution is that you can make it as deep or as shallow as you like, and it is still fun regardless of your gameplay style.

There are numerous ways to score a victory in the game, including developing a space program and leaving the planet or achieving total planetary military dominance. Each requires a specific type of strategy that leaves the game fresh even after multiple plays. If you find the game too easy, there are also five levels of difficulty. Playing at the upper end of the spectrum will definitely push you to the limit. Unfortunately, there is no online multiplayer (or ANY multiplayer element whatsoever) in the game. The good news is that the computer AI can offer plenty of challenges without any problem. Still, it would be great to see multiplayer added in an update at some point.

Whether the cartoon-style graphics appeal to you is a matter of personal taste. Civ has always had a sense of humor, especially in its depictions of the various country’s leaders, but Civ Revolution takes this a bit further than past versions. Combat has some small animations, but nothing too spectacular. Generally speaking, combat remains a matter of mathematics, with perhaps a smidge of luck or chaos thrown in just to keep things interesting. Sound effects are subtle and unobtrusive, though you may want to turn some of the gibberish voices of your advisors down after a while, as they can get a little grating. The overall volume also seems a bit high compared to other games. It’s easy enough to turn it down, but it did seem strange to hear distortion from the iPad speaker when the master volume was set at 50%.

Many other iPad launch games have garnered massive praise in the time since the iPad launch, while Civilization Revolution has been relatively neglected. This is simply wrong-minded. Civ Revolution is THE launch game for the iPad. The controls feel just right, the intensely colorful graphics look spectacular on the iPad’s screen and the gameplay is adjustable to anyone’s style of playing. So what are you waiting for? Go out and rule the world!

Posted in: iPad Apps and Games, iPad Games, Reviews

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