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Civilization Revolution (Xbox 360)

Rated: 12+. Quite why this should be the case is a mystery once again - there really isn't anything you'd be worried about a passing toddler watching. Still, actually playing the game is going to be beyond most eleven-year-olds anyway.

Story: You are the leader of a small tribe of nomads. You must found a city, spread your culture, advance your civilisation and take your people from the stone age to interstellar colonisation, all while competing with opposing tribes.

Gameplay: This is a turn-based strategy game...

Hey! Come back! It's not what you think! It's fast-paced, works great without a mouse and keyboard, doesn't take months to get through and favours tactical thought over micro-management. It...

Oh, darn... Now all the geeky guys with beards have left.

That just leaves you and me.

Ho well, guess I'd better finish the review anyway. No sneaking off, though. You had your chance.

So... Civilization Revolution is a turn-based strategy game where you must explore a planet and utilise resources to become the dominant civilisation. You start off with a single city and direct its citizens to concentrate on trade, science, harvesting or industry. In time, the city produces military units and/or settlers to found other cities. Put some effort into science and your civilisation develops new technologies, allowing useful buildings to be built and (eventually) very big tanks. Each turn, your units can move a space or two.

Of course, the planet is full of other civilizations vying for the same territory. You can win by conquering them all but victory can also be achieved by scientific, economic or cultural means (essentially by concentrating on research, trade or building large cathedrals).

Save System: Save at any time.

Comments: I played Civilization 2 a decade ago and enjoyed it. Each game seemed to take weeks, however. By the time I'd spent 5000 years leading the Vikings to world domination and I'd finally seen off the expansionist greed of the Aztecs, I couldn't face starting again on a higher difficulty level. There was too much detail involved in organising cities, and the units moved too slowly compared with the distances they had to travel. I decided to go play Tomb Raider and get some instant entertainment.

I didn't dare touch the later Civ sequels in case I ended up spending months of my life arranging train timetables or managing the budget of public service broadcasts.

Civilization Revolution is for people like me - people who enjoy a good strategy board game but start to get nervous when the rulebook is more than four pages long. Sure, there are plenty of details to be picked up about the merits of the different technologies and units but the basic gameplay can be grasped in minutes. Everything has been redesigned to make the experience speed along. The worlds are small, the controls are well-designed and there aren't stacks of menus.

The end result is a game that takes around five hours to play. This is long enough to require plenty of strategy but not long enough for starting again to feel like a chore. Variety is maintained through varying difficulty levels and the large number of different tribes available - each has their own special abilities which genuinely affect how the game needs to be played. Trying to achieve the different winning conditions adds to the longevity, and there are also special scenarios which change things even further (by, for instance, unlocking all technologies from the start).

The short turns make the game very addictive. It feels like something is always going on and there's always time for 'just one more turn...' I keep sitting down at ten with a drink and my controller and looking up a few minutes later to discover it's midnight and my beer's untouched.

I can't remember the last game which did that.

Civilization Revolution will be too slow and complicated for many and too fast and simplistic for others. I, however, think it strikes just the right balance, requiring a satisfying amount of brainpower but not too much effort. Superb.

Conclusion: If you want a fast-paced, turn-based strategy game which involves plenty of planning and thought but little micro-management, then this is for you. (Yes, you! You over there! In between the irate, bearded guys muttering about 'dumbing-down' and the teenagers sloping off to play Halo...)

Graphics: Clear, bright and attractive. Text is large enough to read on an old-fashioned telly. You'll be staring at it intently for hours, though, so I'd recommend some form of high definition display.

Length: A single-player game is a few hours long but you can play many times over.

Rating: 5/5.

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