In 2008, 2K Games released Civilization Revolution as a way to migrate that popular franchise—created by game designer mastermind Sid Meier—from the PC to game consoles. It took the core concepts of the huge, world-building strategy game and streamlined them to make it easier for PlayStation and Xbox aficionados of all ages to become digital world leaders.
With Civilization Revolution 2, the attempt is once again being made to update and scale down the sheer bigness of the franchise, this time with an eye on conquering your cellphone and tablet. And if you’ve never given this strategy title a try, well, you’re exactly the person the 2K gaming crew is aiming for.
Robes, Helmets and Even a Stovepipe Hat
Like other titles in this series, Civilization Revolution 2 lets you slip into the robes of Gandhi, the spiked helmet of Otto von Bismarck or the period-style garments of many other historical figures—with Winston Churchill and John F. Kennedy popping up as new additions to the leadership ranks this time around. Each represented civilization has its own advantages, played out in culture, money or tech bonuses. And once you’ve chosen which culture to manage, you set out to colonize and build that nation from the ground up.
The single goal is … to rule the world.
There are four pathways to achieving that grand Governor of the Globe title. You can smash all other civs with military might, dominate them culturally and pull everyone together under a United Nations banner, be the first to master technology and fly into space, or make so much money that other nations can’t help but hand you the world banking crown.
The various paths to those ends, however, is where the strategy comes in. As eras pass in turn-based moves, gamers plot how best to do everything from balancing limited resources, to building cities and spreading influence, to creating civ-enhancing world wonders, to researching new technololgy.
Old and New, Small and Cool
Now for those of you who have played some other version of this series, you’re probably thinking my description sounds pretty familiar. The difference here is the attention this installment gives to the bite-sized, pick-up-and-put-down portable gameplay I mentioned. It’s not so much a full-blown challenge for strategy-gaming pros as it is an introductory entry point for newcomers. An entire game, played from the first colonized city to cheering victory, can be knocked out in as little as an hour or two in a concentrated session.
Civ Rev 2 compensates a bit by pumping up the command interface and small-screen visuals. Double-tap movement commands and list-scrolling screen swipes make things relatively easy to access. And larger 3-D images make identifying your troops, settlers and other characters a snap.
Evaluating the Touchscreen Revolution
Still, the simplified nature of this new touchscreen-focused version is arguably its biggest drawback, too. For those who’ve enjoyed Civ in the past, gameplay here can feel more awkward than revolutionary. Especially at first. And even for those new to the concept, the truncated tutorial leaves a bit to be desired. Unexplained features, objectives and tech trees can leave newbies frustrated and scratching their heads.
Far less frustrating is the fact that the new game’s supersized, colorfully dazzling graphics don’t amp up the detail when it comes to the inevitable violent clashes. Staying true to the original Civilization Revolution, battles are bloodless as tiny troops go at each other with swords and bullets (and later, tanks and jets). Warring conflicts are short-lived, with a losing group tumbling over or spiraling down and blipping out of sight.
In fact, there really aren’t any verbal or visual additions in this E10+ title that would make Mom or Dad flinch if they spotted it on a kid’s phone or tablet. The only issue that may need some new navigational boundaries is the fact that mobile accessibility makes it easier to keep the revolution going … and going … and going, pretty much any time and any place.
After spending more than two decades touring, directing, writing and producing for Christian theater and radio (most recently for Adventures in Odyssey, which he still contributes to), Bob joined the Plugged In staff to help us focus more heavily on video games. He is also one of our primary movie reviewers.