The Shortcomings of Civilization Revolution DS

Despite the many things I enjoy about Civilization Revolution, as with most games there are a number of issues that could be addressed to make the game a little smoother. So I'll start this series of posts with a look at where Civ Rev falls a little short. Although I'm talking about DS version, I believe most of my comments probably apply to the PS3/360 versions as well.

One of the biggest problems with Civ Rev simply involves the interface. There's no map in this game. This is no problem at all in the early stages of the game when you're still exploring. Most of the area can be seen without scrolling at all. But later in the game when all the land and the other civilizations have been exposed, it can sometimes be a real pain to slowly scroll to the city or location you want to examine. The fastest way I've found to traverse the world is to go into the city view mode and keep hitting 'R' to go to the next city.

Another interface problem involves the city management screen. From here you can decide what your city will build next, and also determine how to allocate your workers. There are buttons to set your workers to focus on gold, production, science, food, or some combination of those. Unfortunately, most of the presets rarely are adequate for how I want to run my city. While there is a customization button, it becomes tedious to go into this customization menu and manually set your workers on the right tile every few turns. Here's where Civ Rev could have benefited from Civ IV. In Civ IV, you manually set your workers on the first screen when you opened the city maintenance screen, unlike Civ Rev where it's buried a layer deeper. I see no reason I could not also customize my workers, which is usually optimal, from the main city screen. This is a minor gripe, but in a game whose existence is based on being streamlined, fast, and accessible, I think an opportunity was missed.

One problem unique to the DS version is the lack of the Civilopedia. I know, this was largely unavoidable due to size limitations. After all, they did cram the entirety of a Civilization game onto a tiny DS cartridge. But with the removal of this resource that explains every single unit and feature in the game, I sometimes find myself unable to look up some information that the game will not tell me. For example, after creating a Cannon, I might forget the strength of that cannon a few turns later. The game won't tell me just by selecting the cannon, only when I'm preparing to attack another unit. I can also find out the Cannon's statistics by going into a city menu, going to the Unit Production menu, scrolling down to Cannon, and then switching back and forth between highlighted units until the statistics screen pops up. This is a small issue, but when striving for quick and easy access, this added time in every game does not help.

A few more minor nuisances:
  1. You can't customize a map type. You can only play on a random map, so every time the map is mostly similar. You can choose continents, Pangaea, islands, highlands, etc. as in Civ IV. I would assume this was cut due to balance issues. With only one general type of map it would be much easier to keep the game more balanced, although different map types force you to use different strategies with different civilizations.
  2. I've only finished 3-4 games, so this is a bit of a jump. But it seems like any civilization has a pretty decent chance to meet any of the four victory conditions, despite having civilization-specific advantages. You can play to maximize your civilization's inherent advantages, but you don't have to. In short, you can play as any civilization with any style you want to, and still have a good shot of winning any victory condition. (This could also be a compliment.)
  3. Due to the faster-paced nature of the game, games too often rely on aggression and warfare, with very little room for diplomacy beyond buying/selling technology and paying one rival civilization to attack another.
I wrote a lengthy list of criticisms here, but I'm not really trying to devalue the game in any way. I really enjoy it. It's just as fun and addicting as it's PC big brother, as long as you accept it's limitations. That "one more turn" mentality is just as prevalent here, maybe more so since there's a little less to manage in any individual game. I know I'll play many more matches. I'm currently only on the middle of five difficulties, and will probably play the next few games at this level. The next highest will probably be quite the challenge, as the A.I. gets some resource and speed advantages that I don't.

While the "revolution" in this adaptation isn't quite perfect, it's a lot of fun. The core changes to game play really do speed things up; my games typically take 5-6 hours since I micromanage a lot.

Next up: a more specific civilization post.

No comments: