Where else but in the Civilization series will you find Abraham Lincoln building the Egyptian pyramids and Gandhi as a treaty-breaking warlord? Let's just say this isn't exactly the game to use as a reference for your history class. And while this iDevice version of a recent console reboot is much more engaging than a textbook, a few glaring issues keep it short of must-have status.
In Civilization Revolution, you choose a society to bring up from primitive settlements, starting at a time when both writing and the wheel were as-yet undiscovered ideas. As the society's glorious leader, you'll take your armies to war, commission engineering feats (called better known as "wonders"), and manage the growth and production of your cities.
The Civilization series has arguably evolved just as dramatically as the human history it portrays, and in Revolution, the game is as streamlined as ever. Navigating through menus and keeping track of your progress is a snap with the iDevice's touch screen, and unit movement (unthinkable without a keyboard just a few years ago) is handled with context-sensitive commands that pop up when you select a unit.
Most of the time, the game hums along at a nice clip, taking you through the eras like a stroll through an interactive museum exhibit, but every now and then, a few snags can slow or halt your progress. The "go to" command, which gets used a lot, is highly ineffective because you can't scroll the screen as you're selecting a final destination. Instead, you have to tap your way along the map, which defeats the purpose of using a single button for long-distance movement.
Also, the game begins to chug a bit on older iPhone and iTouch models as you approach the endgame. This is when the entire map is revealed and your enemies move their armies. Sometimes this actually kills your game--we encountered some game-ending crashes when things got slow. Fortunately, you can save anywhere in multiple save slots, so thoughtful players shouldn't lose too much progress from these crashes.
If you've never played Civilization before, Revolution for iDevices is actually a pretty good place to start. You can play through an entire game in about two hours, and the five difficulty levels provide a nice, steady increase in challenge as you go. There are also multiple bonus scenarios, but they're not too interesting; they mostly involve preset tech bonuses and all have the same graphics (even, disappointingly, the "Beta Centauri" scenario, set in 2026 on what is supposed to be another planet).
Another oversight is that you can't pick your map size or style in the main campaign. No "large water" map or "small land" map here--just one size fits all. And while multiplayer would be a mind-blowing addition, Civilization Revolution on iDevices is only a single-player game.
Let's face it: No other game lets you use fighter jets to blast spearmen or hands the A-bomb to Genghis Khan. The snags and slowdown are disappointing, but even so, Civilization Revolution's addictive gameplay will probably compel you to take "one more turn" for quite some time.
This review was provided by GameSpot mobile content partner SlideToPlay.com.