Review: 'Pokemon' and 'Civilization VI' will put smiles on the faces of long-time fans

'Civilization VI' has been released for the Nintendo Switch, while the 'Pokemon' game returns to the console

A still from Pokemon: Let’s Go, Eevee!
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We review 'Civilization VI', which has been released for the Nintendo Switch and the 'Pokemon' game on console...

Review: Civilization VI

Few series are as synonymous with PC gaming as Civilization. The first game, 1991's Sid Meier's Civilization, was a genre-defining masterpiece. It helped to popularise what has come to be known as 4X games, in which a player controls and manages a vast empire while focusing mainly on four areas: eXploration, eXpansion, eXploitation and eXtermination.

Ever since that first entry, fans of grand strategy games have been turning up at school or work with red eyes far too often - the result of living by the “just one more turn” mantra most Civ' players find themselves inevitably adopting as they sit in front of their PCs into the early hours of the morning.

Those who find it hard to close the game and go to bed now face an even bigger challenge than before: the latest entry in the series, Civilization VI, has been released for the Nintendo Switch.

This is the first time a Civilization game from the main series has appeared on a games console since a port of Civilization II appeared on the Sony Playstation in 1999. Developers Firaxis Games have accomplished something special with this port of a game that won Best PC Game and Best Strategy Game at the 2016 Game Critics Awards.

Older fans of the series may miss their mouse and keyboard for the first few turns, but they’ll soon forget about that as they get used to the intuitive controls of the Switch version.

Handheld mode is the best way to play, as it comes with the advantage of being able to use the touch screen to give commands. But even in docked mode and using the Joy-Cons or a Pro Controller, Civilization VI is easy to control.

Civilzation VI game still image 
Civilzation VI game still image 

This is the full Civilization VI experience, with nothing omitted or dumbed down from the PC version.

All the insanely complicated systems working behind the scenes to simulate your chosen civilisation’s ascent from tiny stone-age tribe to space-travelling global hegemon are present. It’s an achievement that would have seemed like science fiction in the early years of the franchise.

If you’re a fan of strategy games and have been considering buying a Switch, this may just be what pushes you over the edge.

Review: Pokemon: Let’s Go, Pikachu! and Pokemon: Let’s Go, Eevee!

Just as Civilization is synonymous with PC gaming, the Pokemon series is synonymous with Nintendo's handhelds. The first game came out all the way back in 1996 on the original Game Boy, and has maintained a place in popular culture ever since.

The Pokemon Go craze that hit the UAE and the rest of the world a little over two years ago brought the series unprecedented exposure, and suddenly people who had never seen an episode of the television series or picked up a game controller before were spending their leisure hours trying to catch 'em all.

But as much fun as everyone had with Go, fans have been eagerly waiting for the next main-series Pokemon game on console. That has now arrived in the form of Pokemon: Let's Go, Pikachu! and Pokemon: Let's Go, Eevee! If it seems confusing that there are two games, fear not - the world of Pokemon can seem a bit strange to the uninitiated. The two games are virtually identical, except for the Pokemon your character starts the game with (Pikachu or Eevee) and several Pokemon that are exclusive to each version.

Let's Go is a much-enhanced remake of 1998's Pokemon Yellow, itself an enhanced version of 1996's Pokemon Red and Pokemon Blue, the first games in the series.

For those who are old enough to remember those games, Let's Go delivers a nostalgia knock-out. That first encounter with Prof Oak will bring back fond memories of the old 2D, monochromatic Game Boy days, but you will be very thankful that the game world is now displayed in glorious, full-colour 3D. The Nintendo Switch may not be the most powerful console out there, and that may actually be a good thing - instead of going for photorealism, many developers have instead focused on more stylised, animation-like graphics. The result has been beautiful games such as The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Super Mario Odyssey and Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle. They may not boast the highest polygon count, but exude a charm that can often be missing from games designed for more powerful hardware. Let's Go joins that list of games that are a joy to look at - Pokemon battles have never looked this good.

Pokemon Let's Go, Pikachu! 
Pokemon Let's Go, Pikachu! 

The graphics aren't the only part of the game to receive an update - the gameplay has also been slightly tweaked to bring it more in line with modern games and make it more accessible to newcomers and those whose Pokemon careers started with Go. You now catch Pokemon the same way you do in Go, aided if you so choose by the Switch's motion controls or the new Poke Ball Plus controller, sold separately. It's also possible to transfer Pokemon you caught in Go to your Let's Go game.

Purists may baulk at some of the changes, but there’s no doubt that most of them are welcome - besides, there’s a new core game in the series set for release next year, aimed squarely at series veterans.

Let's Go is a delightful love letter to the series that should please most fans while also being a great jumping-on point for newcomers.

Civilization is available for download on the Nintendo eShop and Pokemon is available in stores across the UAE