Also On: iOS
Developer: 2K China/Firaxis
I approached Sid Meier's Civilization Revolution 2 Plus with no small amount of apprehension. I'd never played any of the Civilization games before, but by reputation I knew them to be both insanely addictive and fairly hardcore in terms of strategy. While the former didn't bother me too much — I sank approximately 500 hours or so into MLB 10: The Show's career mode, so I'm totally used to addictive repetition — the latter definitely gave me pause, seeing as my gaming strategies generally tend towards the "run in, guns ablazing, damn the consequences" school of thinking.
Because of that combination of unfamiliarity and lack of strategic thinking ability, you'll probably want to take this review with at least a few pinches of salt. For one thing, it means I can't tell you exactly how faithfully the proper Civilization Revolution 2 experience is recreated on the Vita, since I have absolutely no idea. For another, it means that I almost certainly didn't play the game to the absolute fullest extent that's possible, on account of the fact I'm pretty sure I suck at it.
Having said all that…my goodness, CivRev 2+ is fun. I totally see how people could sink hours upon hours into it. I regularly found myself starting up a scenario as soon as I got on the bus for work, only to look up and realize I needed to hurriedly get up and rush to the doors so as to avoid missing my stop. I don't know how much this version took from the original version of CivRev2, but it clearly took enough that it can sink its claws into you and make it so that you forget everything else.
In this respect, the game is pretty much perfect for the Vita. You never need to worry about having to stop a particularly tough battle halfway through, since you can literally take it everywhere you go. If pesky things like bus stops get in the way, you can just momentarily suspend your game, then pick it up again as soon as you get another free moment. The controls — for the most part — are easy to pick up and remember, so you never have to worry about re acclimating yourself to the game. There are no plots or stories you need to keep track of. If there's any game more suited to handheld gaming, I don't think I've yet discovered it.
Which isn't to say that CivRev2+ is the best handheld game I've ever played, or that it's flawless. Most obviously, there are times where the performance is a little suboptimal. When you get into a scenerio's later stages, and the world is filling up with cities and soldiers and settlers, movements start to feel and look a little sluggish. And on a non-gameplay level, the game could stand to do a little more in terms of explaining some things to newcomers — case in point being the fact I never figured out how to transport anything across oceans, which made for a slightly long game when I found my starting city alone on an island, and I was forced to win over the world solely on the strength of my culture.
On the whole, though, those are things I'm happy to overlook when the overall package is so much fun. When a game and a system go as well together as do Civilization Revolution 2 Plus and the Vita, I'm willing to make one or two trade-offs in exchange for a near-perfect whole.