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Civilization Revolution 2 iOS and Android review: The perfect mobile strategy game?

Civilization Revolution 2 review for iPhone/Android: Civ occupies a fond place in most hearts; it’s the game many of us grew up with when we perhaps should have been revising for exams. But we didn’t and now we write about phones for a living. 

Besides the long-running Civilization desktop canon (the sixth iteration of which is rumoured to be landing any day now), there’s also the offshoot Revolution series. 

Launched on consoles back in 2008, Revolution promised to boil Civ down to its base metals and do away with a lot of the gilding like civics and religion that’s characterised the more recent full-fat releases. Visually, it borrows a lot from the cartoonish top-down look and feel of Civ IV and it retains the ever-shifting cultural borders introduced by Civ III

Civilization Revolution promises fast-paced games that you can easily finish in one sitting. You might not be able to painstakingly grow a Zoroastrian technocracy from the seeds of a bronze age republic, but you will be able to build the Pyramids, discover gunpowder and lead a column of Aztec tanks into Paris by teatime. 

Civilization Revolution 2 on iOS and Android costs a hefty £8.20, far more than your usual mobile game fare. So is it worth shelling out on, or are you better off with one of the many free strategy titles out there? 

Civilization Revolution 2 iOS and Android review: The perfect mobile strategy game?

Pros

  • Easy to pick up, fast-paced fun
  • Cherry picks the best bits from the Civ lineage
  • Achievements add variety

Cons

  • Overbaked graphics
  • Lack of customisation 
  • Low difficulty won’t challenge veteran Civ-heads

Newbies to the Civilization franchise or empire-building strategy games in general could do worse than starting off here. CivRev 2 gently introduces acolytes to the basics of city building, research, exploration and expansion. 

It does this by way of a hand-holding Tutorial mode which does a good job of showing you the ropes and once you’re in the game proper, you’ll be set a number of challenges to help give you direction. These often take the form of things like ‘build two Courthouses by 1000AD’ for permanent in-game bonuses like +10 Culture per turn. Those of us who’ve been following this and the previous government’s efforts with BDUK will also get a chuckle out of the fact that one of the latter-day projects you can build is the ‘Highspeed Broadband’ wonder, which gives you a permanent science boost. 

While serving as a novel way to introduce new players to the effects of certain buildings, it also provides a nice distraction for Civ vets who’ll find the difficulty curve somewhat gentle; Deity mode (the hardest difficulty) on CivRev 2 isn’t deserving of the title if you ask us. 

One of the things that long-standing Civ fans will note about Revolution is how quickly you’ll blast through epochs; you’re barely ready to rally your armies for an epic Battle of Cannae-type dust-up when a notification cheerfully tells you that it’s now the Industrial era. 

Part of the point of CivRev is this seat of your pants experience. But this frenetic pace also robs the game of some of its magic. In the settings you can slow down the rate of scientific advances if you want a more measured approach, but then this presents you with the unedifying spectacle of fighting with catapults in the 20th Century, making a Technology Victory all but impossible. 

We appreciate that the pace of the game is supposed to be fast, so criticising it for this might seem churlish, but if that’s the case then we wish some restraint could have been shown in the design department. For something that’s supposed to offer a streamlined experience, 2K haven’t half gone to town on presentation. 

Many of the animations that delight on first viewing, like musketeers shouldering their rifles when they form up, will irritate in the later, tenser stages of a Civ session, where things literally start heating up. By which we mean this game is a resource hog. From a full charge on a Galaxy Note 3, one hour of gameplay took us down to 30 per cent. 

We’d be a lot happier, for the sake of folks with older phones, if there were an option to pare down some of this graphical glitz; we’d rather not watch our poor phones struggle to process animations of post-victory archers spunking fireworks into the sky. Just get on with it

In terms of stability, CivRev 2 can be about as reliable as a jelly skyscraper. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve had to save my progress, kill the game and restart it because of gameplay bugs. The one that kept cropping up the most was one that’d rob us of the city management tools, making it impossible to change building orders and the like. 

Having to repeatedly restart is an inconvenience that die-hards will probably put up with, but for less patient players, this could become a deal breaker, especially when you’ve been asked to drop over eight quid on it. 

When all that’s said and done, compared to some of the so-called ‘free’ titles out there, which promise everything but deliver little unless you acquiesce to incessant in-app purchase demands, at least once you’ve bought CivRev 2, you’ve bought it. It won’t keep hassling you for money like an unwanted stepchild. 

Verdict: CivRev 2 falls short of victory conditions

CivRev 2 is a bright, colourful and polished strategy game. If anything, it’s a bit too polished – a lot of the glamour grates after a while. It’s a big title and therefore best played on a big, powerful phones; mid-range devices with dinky screens will struggle to handle CivRev 2

Hopefully 2K will be able to iron out some of the more obvious flaws and introduce greater customisation options with some much-needed updates. Given the age of CivRev 2 (it’s been out for over a year now) we’re skeptical if 2K will give it the attention it needs. That said, it’s one of the best mobile strategy games out there and worth a punt if you want something that’s fun to play without nagging you for cash every five picoseconds. 

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