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Europa Universalis IV

 

Europa Universalis IV

ESRB: Teen - T
Platform: PC Games
Category: Real Time Strategy, Simulation, Strategy
 
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King Juan II is a bleeding idiot. I don't know what the hell he did, but whatever it was, it was so remarkably stupid as to bring Spain right back to the brink of revolt. And then, to top a shitty year off, Aragon declares war, and starts wrecking my shit. Why do I still feel happy about this? Because it's Europa Universalis IV, and history is being rewritten.

GRAPHICS

If there's one thing the updated Clausewitz Engine does well, it's looking pretty. The UI is still a little hard to read at high resolutions, but tooltips help a lot with this, and you're still able to see what's going on. Although not always animated amazingly well, the unit designs still look good, the artwork in the game's events and loading screens looks good, and while the UI's a little hard to read, it's still a lot easier to look at than EU3's.

SOUND

The music, as always, is excellent. Dour orchestral tones? Check. Sweeping martial music? Check. Extra music for certain nations available as DLC? Well, two out of three ain't bad, but the music already in the game is great, and the sounds, while a little sparse, at least give the impression of battles, heavy books being slammed onto your desk, and the like. Look, the music's good, and that's all you need, alright? Alright.

GAMEPLAY

As with any Paradox grand-strategy, the meat is in the game, and fans of EU will definitely find some improvements in this incarnation. As an example, a friend bought the game on release when he discovered, to his great surprise, that Ethiopia doesn't completely suck in 1444. It's just hard as balls. But then, he's still going to play them, because that's the whole point of Europa Universalis: Chucking history in the bin, and creating one that makes the small great. You probably won't be able to conquer the world as Ethiopia, but it's most likely possible to make it a secondary power by the time of the game's end, and you can definitely have a good chance to topple the UK as someone like France, Spain, or one of the other not-quite Great Powers. It's all in how you manage things.

So, pick a country. For myself, I picked Spain, as I always do. It's a fair challenge for a moderately experienced player, and a learning experience for newbies. You then have 400 years, give or take a decade or two, to do with them as you will. Getting conquered or going bankrupt will lose you the game, and it's entirely possible to lose your country to a poorly thought out royal marriage, but beyond that, the only limitations are the game's rules and your governmental desires. Rules wise, it's fairly complex, and the tutorial still doesn't give more than the basics, but this time around, the tutorials are more helpful, showing you a few ways things have changed since last time. A fair warning, though: It makes the game look a lot easier than it actually is. In the tutorial version of Spain, the Reconquista (where Castille forms modern Spain) takes little over a year. In my own game, I have so far had my arse handed to me twice, once by Morocco (foolishly not blockading them) and once by Aragon (a combination of bad luck and lack of intelligence.)

So, what's changed in this edition? Well, Trade is a lot more clear, possibly a bit simplified, while science is definitely revamped. In fact, the order of the day is streamlining. Science, for example, completely replaces a lot of the sliders in the older games, and works instead from three Power scores: Administrative, Diplomatic, and Military. These same points are also used to implement National Ideas, some national decisions, boosting Stability, reducing War Weariness... Look, they're largely a new core mechanic, alright? For example, as Spain, I have to save 570 points of Administrative Power to unlock my first set of National Ideas, but I have the more pressing problem (at the beginning) of a nation that's one step away from outright revolution. Essentially, trying to hold my nation together, Stability wise, is going to heftily delay my plans for Administrative research. So how can I help combat that? With missions.

Every nation has missions, and they are good guidelines for paths you can take your country down. Each one earns you Prestige (which is important, because Prestige goes down over time, and you want Prestige), and usually some other bonus, be it Power points, Ducats (money), or a free claim on a nearby county/country. Of course, it's up to your judgement which missions you take, and it's sometimes better to take a series of small goals. Make allies out of Portugal, for example, or teaching heretics to be your religion, rather than the filthy heathens they so obviously are. Which brings us nicely to culture and religion.

Culture and Religion are two of the most important things in EUIV as far as I can tell. The beginning culture/nation not only determines your tech group (aka – how hard it's going to be to tech up until you Westernise), but also whether your stability and taxes are going to suffer. Conquering Granada, in a Spanish game for example, is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it's an easy conquest if you know what you're doing. On the other, they're Sunni, you're Catholic, and both facts are unlikely to change until you improve your missionaries a whole lot. This, in turn, makes them more likely to rebel, and generally brings the stability of your country down. This isn't helped by the fact that random events can trigger where even the most adept ruler can fuck up and reduce stability with some undescribed faux-pas or another. You know, like King Juan II of Spain. In fact, random events are just as unmerciful as they were in previous games, and you really need to have your wits about you. It's not nearly as difficult to learn as other Paradox games though... It's just tough, and the Difficulty Indicator still lies like a cheap watch. But overall, if you like grand strategy, Paradox definitely still have their mojo, and Europa Universalis IV is worth the price.





 
 

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