ROMper ROOM: Find recipe for new world

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History’s greatest leaders take center stage as they “build an empire to stand the test of time” in Sid Meier’s Civilization Revolution(2K Games and Firaxis, for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, $59.99).

Mr. Meier has streamlined his PC classic, building the popular turn-based, strategy epic for home entertainment consoles. In the game, a player works his way from the dawn of man to the space age after choosing a head of state and one of 16 civilizations to manage.

Each leader has strategic advantages ranging from Queen Elizabeth I (naval support doubled) to Genghis Khan (knowledge of communism) to Abraham Lincoln (factories triple production).

A player’s goal is to build the most powerful civilization on the planet, mixing elements of culture, government, military might and technology. Each order executed per turn in the creation of a bustling city — everything from placing settlers to constructing a library to defining scientific goals — involves a certain number of turns to complete and is enacted through an easy-to-administer menu interface.

Much of the action is led by methodically building and moving military units (from archers to horsemen to artillery and riflemen) around a three-dimensional map and entering into skirmishes or forced negotiations with opponents.

Conquering enemies on the battlefield and seizing cities is not the only way to win the game. Taking an overwhelming lead in technology (launch a ship to Alpha Centauri), economic (build a World Bank) and cultural (corner the continent with great thinkers and wonders of the world) arenas also takes the victory flag.

The surprising amount of depth to the game is never ending. Activities found in a typical match might include:

  • Using a spy to sneak into a city and kidnap a great person to tap into his expertise, such as grabbing King Cheop to upgrade building skills.
  • Construct a ship and use waterways to move around land masses to trade, deliver troops to battle, challenge other naval vessels or even discover powerful ancient artifacts, including the lost city of Atlantis and Ark of the Covenant.
  • Have a caravan roll into town and accept their gifts. This triggers a scene where performers such as fortune tellers, jugglers or strongmen can be seen in action.
  • The graphics are cartoony, and animated characters often pop up and speak in gibberish to offer tips, negotiations and accolades on accomplishments.

    An added level of replayability comes with an Xbox Live connection and its multiplayer elements involving hooking up with players around the world in cooperative and versus matches. Additional online elements include teams, ranked matches and a Game of the Week with a competition for the highest posted scores.

    Learning time: Two areas in the game provide access to a wealth of educational information.

    First is the massive resource Civilopedia. It not only acts as a tutorial, but also contains biographical information (text, photos and even occasional videos) on all of the major characters (real leaders and great people from artists to scientists), architectural wonders and cultures highlighted in the action.

    Next, the Hall of Achievements offers a spiffier way of presenting historical entries from the Civilopedia. Players roam through expansive rooms and view all of their trophies and the characters found during their conquests and travels.

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