Civilization Revolution Review for the Nintendo DS (NDS)

Civilization Revolution Review for the Nintendo DS (NDS)

Portable Empire-Building

Sid Meier’s Civilization series has spanned four installments as well as a handful of expansion packs on the PC. It’s a fun, addictive series that for many people is synonymous with the term “strategy game”.

Civilization Revolution screenshot

The franchise has finally made the jump to home consoles and it has hit the DS as well. Many people were worried about how the game would fare in its transition to a handheld title, but thankfully those fears are largely unfounded. Civilization Revolution on the DS offers a noticeably different experience than that offered on the PC, but it’s still a great game nonetheless. Civilization Revolution features gameplay that’s quite typical of the series. You’ll select your nation and then be placed on a map, where you must develop your empire technologically, militarily, and politically, as you attempt to wipe out your rivals. By properly managing your cities, keeping your townspeople happy, working on technology upgrades, and expanding your empire, you’ll ultimately rise to the top of the dog pile and go down in history as a famous civilization.

The method for accomplishing all this is very much the same from the PC versions of the series. You’ll have a variety of units, but at the beginning settlers are your greatest assets. They can set up cities, which can in turn begin production on more units. Developing a successful army is certainly going to be a priority in the beginning of the game, but you’ll need to focus on more than that in order to win.

Civilization Revolution screenshot

Without technological upgrades, your civilization is going to be forever stuck in the prehistoric age in which you start out. But by capitalizing on natural resources and assigning research to different cities, this crisis can be averted. The game also utilizes a technology tree — deciding which technologies to develop will determine which new ones you can work on later down the road. But, this “tree” is wide-open enough that you can’t screw your civilization just by making a decision that might not have been a very good one.

Interactions with other civilizations are handled quite well, and usually you’ve got a couple options. If a society is ticking you off, feel free to declare war. Likewise, A.I.-controlled civilizations can do the same to you. You can also attempt to use diplomacy and bargain for what you want; this is usually a good first option, because having multiple wars on your hands means less money to devote to technology and progression. Making treaties with other nations is also helpful and is a good way to discourage others from going to war with you.

Civilization Revolution screenshot

Navigating your way through all this action is surprisingly easy, thanks to some really well-done controls. No control scheme is likely to beat out the point-and-click style of a PC, but the DS version does a good job of using the hardware well. The shoulder button allows you to access city management screens, while the D-pad is used for navigating your army through the map. The touch screen is also used occasionally, but it’s done in a very non-obtrusive way and doesn’t feel tacked-on. In some situations the stylus is preferable, but when there’s a lot of stuff going on in a concentrated area, the precision of the D-pad is a better idea.

Civilization Revolution does have its problems, but for the most part these issues are the fault of the system, not the game itself. For example, because the DS screen is quite small compared to a computer monitor, the maps are smaller and more cramped. This results in earlier conflicts in the game and also makes games significantly shorter. The game feels scaled back and you no longer feel you’re fighting on a huge landmass or a string of islands. The gameplay remains fun, of course, but this is an issue that’s exclusive to the DS version of the game. On the other hand, in many ways the shorter games is a good thing. After all, the DS really is an on-the-go system, so it’s nice to have a game that can easily be played in short sessions.

Civilization Revolution screenshot

The other mild problem is the game’s visuals. Of course, DS graphics can’t even be compared to those on the 360 or PS3. However, even by the DS’s standards, Civilization Revolution looks a little ugly. This is again due to the fact that the gameplay real estate just isn’t enough for a game of this type. Sprites look primitive and really basic; this is just an issue you’ll have to deal with for the DS version. If you can get over that, Civilization Revolution still has a lot to offer.

Even if you’ve never played a Civilization title before, Civilization Revolution is still a great strategy game. The learning curve is quite smooth, as the game features a number of tutorials for veterans to refresh their skills and for newcomers to get the hang of the game. There are also five different difficulty modes, which is a nice touch. However, even with all these difficulties, the game seems unbalanced in terms of challenge. Either you’ll find yourself winning constantly against civilizations that don’t even seem to put up a fight, or you’ll be pounded by nations controlled by brutally tough A.I. There’s no real in-between, which for most players is going to be a disappointment.

While it’s by no means the best Civ game out there, Civilization Revolution for the DS is still a solid addition to the franchise. The fact that you can have fun with this game on your own terms and on your own time is great, but the title does this without sacrificing any of the classic Civilization gameplay so many people have come to know and love. Its major shortcomings don’t have such a presence on the console versions of the game, but the DS iteration is still great. If you’re hankering for some strategy fun on the go, there’s no better game to buy than Civilization Revolution.

They’re pretty muddy and ugly and don’t show off the best the DS has to offer, but they get the job done. 4.3 Control
Standard button and stylus control are both used and are intuitive and easy to get the hang of. 3.1 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
The game’s music is nothing special and doesn’t particularly enhance the game, but it’s not “bad.” 4.7

Play Value
Tons of civilizations, randomly generated maps, and local multiplayer ensure that you’ll be having fun with this title for a long time to come.

4.2 Overall Rating – Great
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.

Game Features:

  • Take control of one of countless civilizations and lead it to victory.
  • Unique DS controls make conquering the world easier than ever.
  • A unique combination of management and combat make Civilization Revolution as addictive as ever.
  • Five difficulty levels allow anybody — Civilization veteran and newcomer alike — to have fun with this game.

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