This post is going to be a delicate merger of ‘Great Games to Poop to’, and ‘Review’.
Who: Developed by Firaxis Games, and Published by 2k Games.
What: Turn Based Strategy
Where: Earth over the course of human history.
When: Available now on the app Store for $4.99
Why: Deep gameplay, and a franchise I enjoy on my handheld. Good times.
To sum this up in two words… great adaptation. I think the Civilization series is one of the most deep and complex franchises that I have ever played. There’s something about a Civilization game that hooks you in no way any other game can. Maybe it’s just me, but I will put down a Civilization game, and then a couple years later, I have this unhealthy urge to play one again. I think these games dig deep into a person’s Psyche, around the same region that contains OCD, micromanagement and control issues.
Revolutions made it easy to play a Civ game on a console, and the iPhone version takes it a step further by making it easy to play with one hand. Do you notice a theme here? Games that adhere well to one handed gameplay are excellent canidates to enjoy while I drop a deuce, deuce the dog, or de-deuce the baby. They are also great for when you’re brushing your teeth, flying a plane, or searching for something in your pocket. Character movements, production queues, diplomacy, and infrastructure are all easily managed with a single thumb. That’s not even a whole hand. Just think of the things you could do with those extra fingers…I won’t populate that list.
If you haven’t played a Civ game before this may be a good place to start. While It allows for more meticulous micromanagement, it shines in simplicity. The Civ series can be a bit daunting when you first check it out. When I bought and installed Civ 2 for the PC I spent hours and hours reading about the best ways to manage my population to harvest the most food. The game basically comes with a book. I didn’t think these games could be scaled down to anything easily manageable, but they pulled it off with Revolutions. Hell the game help is under 12 pages long… it’s 11! Modes present are Random Map, and Scenario. I found it fun to start with random map, and then spice up the objectives with a scenario every so often. The games can go pretty quick relative to older releases, with each game lasting around one to two hours, and that was often because I refused to win by any way besides annihilation.
Revolutions will not completely satisfy your urge for a Civ game, but it’s simplicity is a nice rest stop in the city building genre.
- Gameplay: 9.5 – The Depth that is expected of a Civ game is here and it’s almost as addictive as the full PC versions. One thing I hope they fix in this franchise is the Diplomacy. It always seems like the AI can bully you, and you are unable to bully them even if you own half of the world. I want to be able to type my own arrogant taunts and get what I want. The AI hurts my feelings sometimes.
- Visuals: 9.5 – Everything looks great. I’ve always been a fan of the character design in Civ games and this one is not exception. Revolutions was developed on the console, and I think they knew they were going to do a mobile version during development, to broaden their audience. With the simplified game-play they were able to draw more casual gamers into the franchise. The friendly looking characters are very fitting, even when they are declaring war on you.
- Sound: 9.5 – I would have given the sound a higher score if it weren’t for the strange volume glitch I’ve been getting since I updated my iPhone to 3.1. Portions of the ambient sounds and music are affected by the in game settings. The other sounds are not, and I think they follow the ringer volume only. While writing this section, I went to test this, and things have leveled off a bit, so I don’t know what’s going on. Otherwise the sounds are great.
- Presentation: 9.0 – The menus and interface are easily navigable, with buttons large enough you don’t have to worry about hitting the wrong one on a touch screen. The consolidation of city info onto the iPhone screen is nothing short of a miracle. My only quarrel was with the stability of the game. I would get the occasional “crash to desktop’, which forced me to relive some of my old PC gaming days where I had to save every 5 minutes.
- Adaptation to iPhone: 10.0 – When I think, “Hmm… Civ game on the iPhone…”, and sometimes I say it out loud, this is exactly what it should be. Maybe they could have thrown some crazy 3d city views in for when you make a wonder or something, but that would have likely just slowed things down. I am quite impressed.
- Overall: 9.5 – I often hear people saying anything over a couple bucks is too much for an iPhone game. Well that’s probably because you have preconceived notions of the crap that populated the device in the beginning. Developers are learning the hardware, and putting some pretty impressive games out there. I just hope the 3GS doesn’t kill my gaming, because game are built only for it’s processor. The $5 will be well spent, getting you hours of addictive game-play that’s unique to the device (as far as I know).
Also just a FYI, speaking of $5 games, Direct2Drive has some sweet deals going on.