Sid Meier's Civilization Revolution Review

Minor interface and performance issues get in the way of what is otherwise an absorbing strategy experience.

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.

Civilization Revolution will let you complete the Magna Carta in only 16 turns.
Civilization Revolution will let you complete the Magna Carta in only 16 turns.

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.

The game also lets you relive the classic rivalry between catapults and pikemen.
The game also lets you relive the classic rivalry between catapults and pikemen.

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

The Good
Classic, addictive strategy game
Clean, eye-grabbing visuals
Messes with history in a fun way.
The Bad
No options for map sizes
Busted "go to" command
Increasing slowdown toward the end
Occasional crashes.
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Sid Meier's Civilization Revolution More Info

  • First Released Jul 8, 2008
    • DS
    • iOS (iPhone/iPad)
    • + 3 more
    • PlayStation 3
    • Windows Mobile
    • Xbox 360
    Sid Meier's legendary Civilization franchise ventures beyond its PC roots with this title, designed specifically for consoles and handhelds.
    Average Rating5411 Rating(s)
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    Developed by:
    Firaxis Games
    Published by:
    2K Games, CyberFront
    Turn-Based, Strategy
    Content is generally suitable for ages 10 and up. May contain more cartoon, fantasy or mild violence, mild language and/or minimal suggestive themes.
    Everyone 10+
    Alcohol and Tobacco Reference, Mild Suggestive Themes, Violence