Review: Civilization Revolution II, by 2K
Civilization Revolution II, by 2K.
• Better graphics than the original
• Somewhat improved touch interface
• Universal binary
• Still lacks the depth of gameplay from the PC version
• No multiplayer
• Nor “store”, but I anticipate in-app purchases
I reviewed Civilization Revolution (for the iPhone and iPad, separate apps) a couple of weeks ago, and then suddenly what do I see? Civilization Revolution II is released on July 1st. What better time to purchase and review this app, with the previous review fresh in my head!
First, I wanted to summarize what I liked (and didn’t like) about the previous version. First off, it’s Civilization – THE turn based, empire building addiction. So seeing it in an iOS device is a plus. But beyond the initial enjoyment and euphoria of seeing the app, I identified some clear problems. The graphics were sub-par, the game play was “dumbed down”, the interface was a little clunky, and in-app purchases (after buying a $10 app) were everywhere. Despite the problems, I still gave it four out of five stars, just because Civilization the game itself (Civilization) is just so good.
So now they have version 2. Well, first off, the good news is that the graphics have been improved. You have some nicely animated figures, lush planetary scenes, and overall an improved “crisp-ness” of the graphics. That in itself made the game more enjoyable – I didn’t feel like I kept needing to adjust my glasses. The graphics still pale compared to the PC version (and I don’t know why we don’t have more animated cut scenes), and they did do some odd re-designs. For example, in the first version, you could look at a unit and see how large it was, thus giving you an idea if it was damaged or not (for example, three spearmen represented a full strength unit. If one or two of the three died in combat, you saw that in the overhead view of the unit). Now each unit is just shown as a singular figure. Given that the retina display could almost certainly show that additional information (heck, it could probably show units bleeding with arms chopped off), this is clearly a short cut approach in the programming.
Figure 1 - Enhance graphics makes the game more enjoyable.
The touch interface seems drastically improved as well. In the original version, there were times when I wasn’t sure what buttons to hit, or how to get the information I am looking for. There are still instances of that (although in fairness, I didn’t play the tutorial mode first), but the majority of the time it is pretty obvious what you can do with the touch screen. Oddly, they did disable some of the zooming commands (I can’t zoom out for a broad view of the landscape). In addition, there are times when I wanted a unit to do something (such as rest and heal) but the option for a heal mode did not appear. These may just be some bugs that get worked out as updates are released.
Figure 2 - I never tire of seeing a tank take out archers.
My biggest complain about the game, however, is still present. Civilization Revolution 2 is still a “dumbed down” version of Civilization. You have much less control, it is easier to win, and you don’t have as many features or options when playing. When I tried to set up a scenario of my own, I couldn’t even control the continent size or the number of opponents that I would face. By dumbing it down (presumably for casual gamers) they really take away something from the hard core gaming experience.
Figure 3 - 3D models make your advisors (and enemies) more interesting.
One thing that was also missing from the game was a store for in-app purchases. Don’t hold your breath, however, I suspect they will appear eventually. Despite the fact that multiplayer was available for Civilization Revolution, there is no multiplayer option here, so I suspect that will be among the first things added for an in-app purchase. I don’t mind in-app purchases, but if the original app is $15, I would like to know if there is going to be additional expensive content that I will have to buy later, especially for something like multiplayer. There are components that you can unlock though gameplay, which is a nice little incetive option.
Figure 4 - The touch interface is improved, but still has some problems.
One nice feature is the fact this game is a universal binary. You no longer need to buy a separate version for the iPhone and iPad (and an in-app purchases will also translate from device to device). To account for this, however, the did increase the price to $14.99. There are some new features (like leaders, some new units, and more) but all in all this mostly just seems like a retread of the older version.
Figure 5 - Diplomacy has never been my strong suit.
All in all, this is a hit and miss sequel to the original Civilization Revolution game. Improved graphics are a plus, and redesigned interface eases some of the difficulties of playing. However, the game play is still the same, and there are no real changes, innovations, or improvements made to the game itself. A heftier price tag ($14.99) outweighs the benefits of having a universal binary, and despite the lack of in-app purchases at release, they are probably right around the corner. Because there is no real improvement on the game itself, and it is really only a cosmetic overhaul, I actually give this a lower rating than the first game, three and a half out of four stars. If you don’t have the first, you should definitely buy this one. If you have Civilization Revolution already, and enjoy it, there isn’t much of a compelling reason to purchase the sequel.
* = No redeeming qualities or features, probably not worth it even if it is free
** = Few redeeming qualities, or is simply isn't worth the price
*** = Some good features but also some clear flaws.
**** = A solid app, worth the money if interested, a few flaws or problems or slightly overpriced
***** = Top of the line app, no problems or drawbacks.
Price is factored into the ratings. Ratings are lowered if I feel the price of the app outweighs the benefits/enjoyment/features it provides. Likewise, an app that is a good value for the money will have a higher rating. Please comment on these reviews. All opinions expressed in this review are precisely that – opinions. You may agree or disagree. If you own the app, tell me what your opinion is. If the review prompted you to buy (or not buy) the app, let me know why. If you want more information about the app, go ahead and ask.