Whilst we constantly dismiss this notion of the Vita having “no games,” it wouldn’t be true to say that every genre is suitably covered on the handheld. One series that is heavily underpopulated is the strategy genre, but with Civilization Revolution 2 Plus now available to import will it be able to plug an obvious gap in the library?
I love a good strategy game, especially a turn-based one; there’s something about biding your time, planning your moves, and executing the perfect battle plan on your way to the ultimate victory. As such, I was very excited to see that Civilization Revolution 2 Plus was arriving on the Vita.
A port of the Android/iOS title of the same name – which is itself a more reduced version of the more complicated PC edition – you are tasked with commanding your own empire whilst expanding, upgrading, and evolving along the way to ultimate victory across the ages. The game is rather simple to pick up initially, not that the lacklustre tutorial explains very much. You’ll begin by selecting a faction, and the huge number available have a multitude of different traits to suit your playing styles, and different benefits in all of the main time eras. Whether you want more defence, cheaper buildings, or more naval firepower; there’s sure to be a combination that favours your style.
Once you have decided on the civilization you intend to develop, you’ll be deposited in a colourful top-down 3D world in the year 4000BC – a singular city and a unit, or a settler to found your city. By slowly exploring your surroundings you’ll start defeating rivals and discovering new cities to conquer or found.
With each passing turn you’ll also be faced with a choice; do you research and enhance your city, which will reduce the amount of turns it takes to develop units or do you build units? It’s a delicate decision (especially on higher difficulties) because you’ll need units to defend your city. Each turn you will also be tasked with developing new technology, which will then open up new technological advances – leading to enhanced resource collection, unit types, and ultimately game changing enhancements. For example, your enemies may have multiple warriors or even horse back units, but these will all pale in significance compared to the likes of tanks and jets – or you could even just drop an atomic bomb on them!
As you explore your environment you’ll discover other factions, and you’ll have a choice of maintaining a truce, or going straight for the jugular. Do you want to risk your limited resource early game, or are you happy to conform to an alliance (which could then backfire on you)? Many a game I’ve supposedly been at peace, only to find the AI changed their mind and sneakily took my unprepared city… along with the benefits I’d earned.
Those that love detailed environments to become immersed in when playing these types of experiences will be disappointed. Whilst the world map and units work well enough, it’s pretty generic and there is very little to differentiate the unit types. The cities, terrain and world in general serve a basic purpose, but compared to other titles in the Civilization series it seems a little more comical, and less realistic.
This carries over to the music and sound effects too; the game is not voiced at all, and the music is very bland, although the sound effects work pretty well.
Because Civilization Revolution 2 Plus is a turn based game, you’ll have restrictions in place such as how far your units can move per turn, how many times they can attack, and what you can build. Balancing all of this will be crucial, especially later in the game as the opposition intensifies their attacks on you and increases their own technological prowess.
As a mobile port, the game can be fully controlled by the touch screen, although the presence of buttons also allows for physical controls to be used. Personally I preferred to play with the buttons, as I found the set up quite simple to grasp; making for a much faster flow during turns. The controls are rather simple, with selecting units, cycling units, and checking terrain all assigned to the face buttons and the shoulder buttons controlling your tech development and cycling through you cities.
There are four ways to win against the AI: Domination, Technological, Cultural and Economic. With a Domination victory you’ll have captured a certain number of enemy cities, usually accomplished by destroying all of the opposing forces. This is easier said than done, but usually provides the quickest route to success. Technological victories will occur once you extensively research the tech tree and launch a space ship to Alpha Centauri. If you are looking for a Cultural victory then you’ll be developing specific sites to trigger the appearance of great people, and develop the United Nations. Finally, a Financial victory will occur upon accumulating the required amount of gold, to create the World Bank. All of these options will drastically alter the way you approach and play the game.
These victory types and the different civilizations all have trophies tied to them, and will take a significant amount of time to accomplish – you will need to achieve all victory types with all the different factions for starters. In addition to the standard gameplay, there are scenarios to play with specific requirements and three of these are exclusive to the Vita version. There’s plenty to keep you occupied, that’s for sure, but the game has one glaring oversight; a severe lack of multiplayer. This is the type of game that is infinitely better with others, and the lack of even a pass-and-play mode ultimately impacts your long term enjoyment.
That’s not to say that there isn’t a lot to enjoy, and you’ll certainly have a lot of fun and with the variety of options and scenarios available to you – I have earned a fraction of the challenges and trophies so I’ll still be playing for a while myself. It’s an enjoyable experience, fills a much needed gap in the library, and is very welcome on the Vita. It’s just a shame it lacks one vital component that would have made it that much more essential.
The game has now released on the PlayStation store in western markets, and is digital only. You can of course, import the game in an Asian/English version – which this review is based from – but it will cost you more. It just depends whether you want another physical copy for your shelf.
This review was sponsored by Play-Asia, who kindly provided the import copy for us to review. If you like the look of Civilization Revolution 2 Plus we suggest you give them a visit – both because they’re a quality import dealer, as well as because they’ve been kind enough to help us out!