Not all gamers are twitchy, impatient freaks high on BALLZ energy drinks; some prefer to reflect, weigh their options, and, most importantly, take turns. Choices may be shrinking for those players, but strategy games still cater to them, such as phenom Sid Meier's Civilization. Civ's global domination through many paths is a landmark of PC gaming, but this recent iteration, Revolution, heads to unexplored territory: the Nintendo DS.
Thankfully the transfer worked out great, which is no surprise -the DS has many great strategy games, because the genre fits well on a system you play on the go in short bursts with two screens for displaying unit info. After choosing one of 16 societies, you then build your capital and explore from there. As the centuries pass you build roads, discover technologies, train armies and learn diplomacy, while competing countries do the same. Don't make the mistake of thinking it's a war game; you can take cities through culture or trade as well, though there is nothing like rolling a tank over some Athenian bow men.
Civilization veterans will feel comfortable with Revolution, but innocents to the series and PC gaming in general should take their time and try the easier difficulties first, as you can feel lost for your first couple of games. Also there is no proper tutorial, but you can increase the number of hints you are given. Once you do get it, and that usually happens soon, you will feel the heady addictive rush of this time sink that most PC players are familiar with.
Still, the series had to make some trims to move this experience to a handheld. Graphics were scaled back a bit, with each unit having a rather cartoony look and most lacking character, though the leaders look all right. As for sound, there are some nice touches, such as the little “yeah!” a victorious attacker yells; however the map screen lacks music, which makes for some eerily quiet play times.
Civilization Revolution is an absorbing experience and really unique on the DS, with its strategy library filled with mostly Japanese fare. It offers much of the depth of its heritage while not really intimidating new players. And it offers 2-player multiplayer, both online and local, with honest to goodness downloadable content of the Map of the Week via DS Wi-Fi. It might not have the bells and whistles of the console versions or its PC predecessors, but this smaller colony is quite at home on the DS.
Jul 9, 2008