If you mention the words "Civilization" and "console" in the same breath, not only will the PC aficionados out there remind you that it's been done before, but they'll also give you several reasons as to why it should never be done again.
The last time we saw a Civilization title grace a console, it was 1999 and a bureaucrat somewhere had decided to destroy what credibility Civilization II had gained by shoehorning it onto the original PlayStation. Civilization II, if you'll recall, was the first title to make gaming on Windows 95 acceptable, and although it never quite captured the originality of the first Civilization, there was nothing stopping a desperate grab for cash with a shoddy port. How fortunate we are that nearly ten years later we've totally eradicated clumsy ports between platforms that serve no purpose other than to impress shareholders and alienate gamers... (Or not.)
Civilization Revolution however is in a league of its own as a completely stand-alone, purpose built title specifically for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, with no suggestion of even a PC port in the works. Contrary to popular belief, Sid Meier hasn't had a hand in every Civilization release, but he's certainly contributed a bunch to this one, and it shows.
The trick with every Civilization title is to realise that you're actually provided with two worlds to examine at the start of every game. First, you have the interface, complete with every statistic you're likely to need and many that you won't, and secondly, the random world stretching out past the fog of war just asking to be explored. Civilization Revolution doesn't disappoint on both scores. From the opening stages of the game, you're greeted with a veritable community of characters as the world is brought to life in animated form - from Catherine the Great to Ghengis Khan, from your Chief of Staff to your nerdy Science Advisor, it's hard to go more than a couple of turns without a simlish-speaking maniac either helping or threatening you.
They've good reason to be interested in your affairs, as the world is a tight-knit group of rolling islands separated by shallow seas and mountain ranges, bordered by hordes of barbarians and worse, foreigners.
Regrettably, gone are the terrain modification options, as you're stuck with one particular style of randomly generated landmass. Gone too is the ability to do any great terraforming projects, although many may not lament the loss of this style of micromanagement. Instead, the gameplay is kicked into the next gear, with most of the food and production requirements taken care of by the AI. The result of this is that you're literally thrown through each epoch with reckless abandon, chasing technology after technology and concentrating on expansion and war far more than trade and roads.
All the traditional nations have returned from the first Civilization, as well as the Japanese, Spanish and what I assume is a collective entity entitled "Arab". Each have not only individual starting bonuses, such as being able to build roads at half cost, or a specialised combat unit, but as each age passes they're provided with a new bonus. This really helps you to plan what sort of a game you prefer - an early rush to get technology might be aided by enhanced science bonuses, but an all-out global assault campaign might be easier with additional medieval firepower.
With so many nations available, there are a wide range of tactical options available for you to choose from, notwithstanding the various campaign challenges the developers have also included.
Combat animation looks to be lifted from the wonderfully detailed world of Sid Meier's Railroads, although it does differ from previous Civilization titles as you have individual unit bonuses based on the number of victories they've achieved increasing their veterancy. For example, your warrior unit will get a 50% attack bonus if they defeat a unit with a higher defence rating, or if they defeat three units one after the other they might gain an extra movement point. Defeat six, and you might gain an extra attack round. You can also stack three units to form an army, and that army will gain any bonus granted to an individual unit in that army. So essentially, if you think you can walk over your enemy in a couple of turns, you might want to make sure they don't form one massive army and come after you first.