My rise had been steady. Each time I established a new city, I prioritized the building of granaries and cathedrals. I fostered long-term plans that resulted in my civilization building wonders of the world such as the Hanging Gardens of Babylon and the Magna Carta. (The latter even transformed my courthouses into cultural centers.) Foreign cities converted to my rule, and I always invested in the rebuilding of their harbors until they were awash with the sounds of fishing and restored their temples to splendor. People around the globe started to like me. Geniuses moved to my nation.
And then the Mongolians sent a colony into outer space. In the few years it would take their ship to reach Alpha Centauri, I would be unable to finish the United Nations. It was only a matter of several turns, but it cost me the victory in Sid Meier's Civilization Revolution. My error was that I hadn't invested in a city that could rapidly build things -- armies, navies or the United Nations -- during the game's final stretch.
Accumulating strategic tricks is the key to winning Civilization Revolution, which doesn't so much revolutionize Civilization as reduce it. By taking the classic empire-building computer game and streamlining it for the 360 and PS3 consoles, game designer Sid Meier has simplified Civilization to its essentials. Previous Civilization games could last all night as players developed great empires. A game of Revolution rarely lasts longer than a few hours, as players race along the game's four tracks to victory -- military, cultural, economic and technological. Winning the game is mostly a matter of luck, perseverance and remembering to have at least one manufacturing hub.
THE GOOD: In adapting Civilization's intricate city and nation management for the 360 and PS3, Sid Meier has designed the slickest Civilization yet. The distillation of terrain, resources and social management options make governing the game's cities a matter of a few quick choices. Rallying armies is a click. Revolution's big picture is delivered via animated advisors who intrude onscreen like supervisors popping through the boss's door, delivering reports and babbling gossip.
THE BAD: Too much paring down has resulted in a shallow Civilization. There are four different tracks to victory, and the player that races furthest and fastest along their track wins. This means there are few reasons to pursue the game's technological tangents -- it's possible to completely ignore the printing press while still attaining space flight. And the four basic victories themselves are unbalanced, with an economic victory yielding bonus milestones (extra settlers, free technologies) while a military victory must be achieved unsupported.
THE BOTTOM LINE: Civilization Revolution reduces Civilization's substantial strategy to a slick videogame of build-and-conquer.