The original Civilization Revolution [$2.99] represented acclaimed designer Sid Meier's attempt to make the Civilization series more appealing to a wider range of people than before. The main Civilization series is extremely well-known and beloved for being an incredibly deep game series, with each game offering nearly infinite replay value. The aim with Revolution was to take the core concepts of Civ and make a game that wasn't as intimidating by streamlining certain aspects and reducing the average length of each game. While hardcore fans of the original series were a bit mixed on the results, it was fairly well-received overall. Originally releasing on PC and various consoles, it made a big splash on iOS with a slightly late port in 2009. The game was a great match for mobiles, offering a reasonably deep gameplay experience that fit the stop and go nature of many mobile gamers. It was also quite well-maintained by publisher 2K Games, and was still receiving occasional updates as recently as late last year.

That initial release was five years ago, a very long time in the world of iOS gaming. The iOS version of Civilization Revolution, being based on the DS version, is looking pretty long in the tooth in some ways. Plus, the rule of video games clearly states that if a game makes money, there must be a sequel. It's less surprising that Civilization Revolution 2 [$9.99] exists and more that it took so long, but it's finally here, and it's actually incredibly underwhelming. This is more of a remake than a sequel, and there are several big and small ways it's a step back from its predecessor in its current form.

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Civilization Revolution 2, like other games in the series, puts you in control of a fledgling civilization that you must grow and help prosper over time. Naturally, your people aren't the only game in town, and the world proves to be a pretty small place. The aim of the game is to achieve victory by one of four very different methods, and depending on which one you're shooting for, you'll either co-exist relatively peacefully with your neighbors or engage in years-long bloodshed. The game plays out turn-by-turn, with each turn representing a smaller number of years on the calendar to reflect the accelerated growth of modern times. You can choose from a number of different real civilizations, each with their own benefits, represented by an iconic leader such as Abe Lincoln or Napoleon Bonaparte.

The biggest change in the sequel is an obvious one. Instead of using sprite-based graphics, the entire game is represented in full 3D, and it looks great. Soak up those pretty visuals, because they have to go a long way. Another big difference is that there is no multiplayer mode in Civilization Revolution 2. To be fair, the first game didn't launch with its multiplayer mode, but to be pragmatic, this game isn't competing against what games were like five years ago, it's competing with the present, and in the present, it's an unfortunate omission. It's even worse when you consider that, although it has several difficulty settings, the AI doesn't put up a very good fight on any but the highest one, and even then, it really only wants to put up a fight in the traditional sense. Nobody's going to beat you to Alpha Centauri, basically. Since the Revolution sub-series is meant for a wide audience, it's not bad that it's a bit on the easy side, but without the multiplayer to pick up the slack, experienced Civ fans aren't going to get much out of this.

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The other main new feature is the ability to play special live events. At the moment, the only one available is based on the American Revolution, but 2K plans to update this feature regularly, which should in theory result in some new content. Apart from that, you get a couple of new leaders, like JFK, and a few new units, and not much else. It's disappointing that after all this time, there isn't anything here that meaningfully changes the gameplay. With how replayable Civ games are, if there aren't any new or unique features in a new installment, it's hard to see the point of buying in. On the other hand, if you're new to the series and don't think you'll be interested in multiplayer, this is probably the one to buy. Those are two big provisos, however.

It's still a very fun game and one of the more accessible games in the 4X genre, and I'll never get tired of pretending everyone is their respective character from Clone High, but I can't confidently recommend this game to anyone who already has the first game, unless those graphics really mean a lot to you. The game has a relatively high price tag for the App Store, and although there are no IAPs as a result, the cost makes me even more hesistant to recommend it, since I don't feel like there's $15 worth of new content here even outside the context of mobile gaming. If you're interested enough in Civilization to be considering this, but somehow inexplicably haven't bought the first installment, then this is a safe choice. It's a pretty hard sell outside of that narrow group, unfortunately.

TouchArcade Rating

  • LarryWP

    I have the first one so I will pass on this. I have read in several places that this adds very little new content for the price. Thanks Shaun!

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  • mantascorp

    This review perfectly sums up the game, in my opinion. If they were going to build a new Civ game for iOS, I wish they'd ventured into some newer, more expansive territory, rather than sticking so close to the old Civ Rev. I love the old Civ Rev, and just can't justify $15 for a prettier game that plays awfully close to the first one.

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  • Louis Ace

    I completely agree with this review. This game is good for those new to Civ Rev, but if you have the first (and don't mind the graphics), then you should avoid this one.

  • Piph

    Honestly, I'm not even sure if new comers should buy this. I'm new to the series, I was excited and bought the game right away, and I regret it now. It feels a lot like someone just dumped out a box full of toys and told you to play by yourself. Maybe they occasionally move a you and pretend to play along with you, but it feels so empty. You will likely dominate the game from start to finish, and even though some will put up a militAry resistance, it's a real stretch to ever feel like you're in serious danger. Beyond that, NOBODY is competing with you over the other goals. You'd really have to shoot yourself in the foot to lose.

    I really can't imagine why you'd want to play this game. If you want a strategy game with fighting, go play XCOM. I promise it will feel more satisfying then watching animated dice roll fights that last 5 seconds.

    • heresandypandy

      Or go play actual Civ on PC, which blows X-com out of the water.

      • Poo

        They are two different types of strategy and not really comparable unless you're just comparing depth. I think both games are at the top of their class for their type.

    • Wolfcoyote

      Funny that you mentioned XCOM, because I had planned to skip CR2 and do exactly that (purchase the iOS version of XCOM). Just from the screenshots and the first few comments made when TA mentioned it in the news I guessed that it was a dumbed-down version of Civ., and apparently I was right. Also, I hadn't had the chance to play Civ IV yet, and with my Mac's faulty wireless antenna I don't feel like re-downloading the Steam version until after my new Mac arrives in the mail.

    • speedyph
  • Piph

    Seriously, what's the draw for new players other than the name of the game? What's to be gained? I feel like new comers to the series would just be souring their tongues here. It's an incredibly uneventful experience and the only challenge for a new player is learning how to play. I've been hearing stories from civ players for years about the conflicts and strange circumstances they'd find themselves in, and it just doesn't feel like much of those stories are here.

  • shdwstar2417

    I'm sure this game was just brought out until the new game is completed. An intro to new players hopefully .

    • haydesigner

      You were wrong.

  • cymsdale

    It soured on my when I found the AI will just park units by the barbarians and allow you to take all the rewards for yourself.

  • jterrel

    I love the title, and it's hard to disagree with the content of the review. But unlike the DS and console versions of Civ Rev, the iOS one really was horribly ugly, to the point where I often felt it impeded gameplay. I don't think it's hard to recommend this to players who loved the original Civ Rev iOS, On a further note, I think a real advantage of this is that it provides a platform for further updates. More leaders, techs, etc. could be in the offing, but would have been very hard to implement in the five year-old version.

    • jayfisch

      I think this game will only be worth it until they add those new civ's, new units, etc. Sure the platform looks nice but I'll wait until the gameplay actually utilizes its potential for a truly amazing game

  • JohnnyHand

    Alpha Centauri for OS... How do we get that to happen?

  • Atharne

    If the game was so "remarkably disappointing", why score it a 3.5 stars? Why not a 2? Adjust your review scores to the tone of your review, for goodness sake.

    • dancj

      3.5 falls somewhere in the "not bad" to "quite good" range.

      For a game that could be excellent, that is a huge disappointment.

    • Jake7905

      We must have read different reviews. Based on what I read, 3.5 is fair. Most of the critique was based on the fact that this is a pricey re-skin of Civ Rev 1. Not that it's a horrible game, just horribly disappointing.

    • Roshy

      I thought exactly the same thing. Based on the text of the review I would have thought they'd rate it a 2.5 or at most a 3.

    • Shaun Musgrave

      Because "it's still a really fun game".

  • vapourtrail

    I wouldn't buy this at $2.99. Rather use the $3 and buy a DLC for Civ V on computer.

  • mutts

    Nice review, but still €10,- for a graphic update!
    If it where me i would say buy Civ. Rev. 1 and the multiplayer update.
    From what i've read on the forums it is basicly Civ. Rev. 1.
    I cannot shake the feeling that this is a money grab.

  • Papa Deuce

    This is why I don't, and did not instabuy any game. And I love Civ.

  • jennifertdahlen

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    • Boopero

      Wow! A mom! I wonder what a dad or daughter or great gramma could make?

  • adamukun

    Very helpful review! I will skip this one

  • Keithustus

    Very, very disappointed. I love Civ Rev 1 as it's a quicker Civ IV. I have long wanted a quicker Civ V, and expected this would be it. Guess I'll have to wait several more years.

  • Jared Nelson
Civilization Revolution 2 Reviewed by Shaun Musgrave on . Rating: 3.5