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Article - 'Gaming Reviews: EU2' by Rowain

An item about Miscellanious posted on Jul 12, 2004


A review of one of the greatest games you've never played - Europa Universalis II. It's a great strategy game, so if you're into the genre, read this!


Gaming Reviews: Hit or Miss
By Rowain

Europa Universalis II
By Paradox Entertainment, for the PC

Before I begin this review, there is one point I need to make.

If you dislike hardcore strategy games, then just stop reading now, because chances are EUII isn’t the right game for you. The entire game is based around managing a nation from 1419 up to 1819, and I can tell you – it isn’t exactly easy.

So, if you’re still reading, let me begin.

As I said before, EUII is all about managing a nation from the late medieval year of 1419 up to the age of liberalism, and the end of the Napoleonic Wars (the exact end of the game is Jan 1st, 1820.) This idea may sound unappealing because many RTS games have done things similar. But Europa Universalis II is NOT a RTS in the common sense of the word. Yes, it is real time, and yes, it is about strategy, but the underlying factors that affect the game play take the game beyond this.

There are three main factors to managing your nation – the politics (your monarch, your domestic settings, religion, etc), the economy (how much money the provinces and cities generate for you, how much money you make on the international markets, etc,) and finally, the military (your troop strength, technology level, morale, and army leaders). EUII requires you to understand each of these facets, because if you don’t, you won’t get very far. EUII is very unique in this aspect. Each of these sections of game play is very deep, and they all have very important roots in success. To keep the people are your nation happy, you must be sure that they are of a culture similar to the nation culture of your country. You must be sure that they also share the same religion – captured provinces can sometimes be a different religion from your national religion, and this can lead to revolts. Long wars can cause unhappiness, because the people do not like being at war. There are also different random events that can cause your people to be unhappy. EUII uses a sliding number for how happy and “stable” things are in the game. Simply enough, this number is called the “Stability”, and it can range from –3 to +3. Low Stability means more revolts, and reduced income, while higher Stability is the inverse. It’s a simple system that works well in the game. Things like dishonouring an alliance, breaking treaties, or attacking countries that share the same religion can affect your Stability.

It may seem like a lot, but it is very intuitive after you go through the games NINE (yes, NINE) tutorials. After a couple of plays, you’ll be running your nation like a pro.

Oh, and a word about nations: there are over 200, each with their own events, historical leaders, and unique generals. From the France, to the Ottoman Empire, to China, or even the North American First Nations like the Iroquois and Shawnee, EUII is PACKED to the brim with nations. And they are all playable. Be the Aztecs and resist the Spanish invasion of Tenochtitlan, or play the Indian nations resisting British rule. Or just play the typical European powers, and colonize the world. EUII features over 1600 land and sea provinces, meaning you’ll never run out of places to battle for. And, if you are ever bored, it also features full online play, so you can always just surf on over to the official website and look for a game to join.

The battle system of EU is quite simple, and that in itself is good. When opposing armies meet in a province or seaway, they begin to battle. Size of the army, attrition (how tired they are), morale, and the ability of the commander all come into play. The computer does all the actual fighting, taking these numbers into consideration when rolling the “dice”.

When at war, the goal is to siege and capture enemy provinces, and destroy their armies in order to force them into signing a treaty. EUII uses a system called War Score, in which victories against enemy armies and successful sieges grant you a higher war score. Adversely, losing battles and having your own provinces taken will subtract from your war score, sending it into the negatives, meaning that signing a peace treaty will result in you ceding money and land to your foe. However, get your war score high enough, and you can start demanding money and captured provinces, as well as things like vassalization, military access, and more. It’s very effective.

There is so much more to this game, but it’s hard to cover it all here. I think it can be safely said that Europa Universalis II is truly a momentous step forward in the genre of strategy games, even if it is about three years old now. This reviewer highly recommends that any strategy fans looking for something new BUY this game now, and support the wonderful company that made it.

Pros: great interface, solid game play, addicting nature
Cons: outdated graphics, quirky AI (sometimes), and the fact that it only covers 400 years of history!
Final score: 85% (Truly great games like this are rare)