Few games have the power to overtake lives and crush relationships like the mighty Civilization. On the PC, a single match in the strategy series can run for days, as players guide a society from nothing to global domination, through conquest, diplomacy, and technological development. Much has been trimmed from Civilization Revolution, the first Civ game developed specifically for consoles, so players needn't worry about devoting days to each campaign for supremacy. Yet the game's addictive qualities remain.
You'll begin with a village, a warrior, and a great leader, like Abraham Lincoln or Tokugawa. From there, the game path is wholly open. Unlike strategy games in which micromanagement is king, CivRev is played in broad strokes. Your first cities can be built quickly, and there's no need to be concerned with each burg's day-to-day existence. Build enough of a military to repel invaders, and you can focus on more important things, like discovering new technology and using the consequent benefits to expand your society's cultural influence. Steamrolling other nations with force is well and good; much more satisfying is creating such an appealing culture that other cities simply defect to your flag.
The Civilization name inevitably invites comparison to the PC series, which features far more depth. (Details omitted in this game: many buildings and technologies, religion as a cultural force, defensive treaties between nations.) But this is a game well built for control via gamepad (every aspect of the control scheme is intuitive), and suited for spending an evening on the couch, not a week in front of the monitor.
Beyond the game: Amazingly, the DS version of the game is very much like the Xbox and PlayStation editions, albeit with reduced graphics. Though it isn't the definitive version of CivRev, it hardly represents a serious compromise.
Worth playing for: The sheer variety of outcomes in every match, whether you win or lose. No other series makes getting obliterated by an opponent so enthralling.
Frustration sets in when: You realize the PC series has options to customize solo and multiplayer games (number of opponents, size of the globe, land mass layout, etc.) that didn't make the cut.
Final judgment: More a significant coup than a revolution, the core game is still addictive enough to have players repeating the mantra "just one more turn."