Civilization Revolution PS3 / Xbox 360

Civilization Revolution PS3 / Xbox 360
Sid Meier is a so-called "game God,” both because he helped found the god-game genre with his seminal PC series Civilization and because he’s revered enough to get above-the-title billing on all of his games (though that could be because he, y’know, owns the company). Still, most folks have never heard of Meier at least partly because the challenging Civilization games are somewhat impenetrable to the average Joe. Yes, the Wii has ushered in the era of the casual gamer but Civ games — make that all turn-based strategy games — just aren’t designed for casual play, which is why they’ve remained a desktop phenomenon until now.

Knowing that few people will couch-out for a 12-hour session in front of their console, this latest iteration of the franchise does attempt to simplify things. But much like the tax code, it’s exceedingly difficult to simplify beyond a certain level. Revolution might be the title but the game play hasn’t sped up that much and the distilled control scheme is still pretty complex.

The title refers to the leaders of the game’s 16 civilizations — ranging from Mao, Caesar and Napoleon to Gandhi, Genghis Khan and Shaka Zulu — who will eventually meet up and wage war as you micromanage them from the far past (tribal communities) to the near-future (space colonization) using a combination of cultural progress, technological savvy and military might. The latter can lead you to victory but Meier must be a one-world government booster since he’ll also let you win by creating the World Bank or the United Nations.

For the gamer willing put the time in (rather than getting impatient and moving on to more instantly gratifying ninja disembowelling), fans of speculative fiction or people who want to play an evolved version of Risk with a few friends, or strangers, online, Civilization Revolution could be considered, well, a godsend. (Firaxis/2K)