It’s hard to find a developer who makes better strategy games than Paradox Interactive. With dozens of remarkable strategy games under their belt they keep fulfilling every strategy gamers dream with one great title after another. And in their latest offering, Crusader Kings II, be sure to be amazed no matter how much of a hardcore strategy gamer you are. It’s hard to imagine a game with such depth and detail in controlling a dynasty, and the countless realistic gameplay features only work to enhance what is already a richly rewarding experience.
Crusader Kings II takes place between the years 1066 to 1453. An overhead view of the European map is what you’ll navigate most during gameplay; as well as the various interactions with the game’s many character screens. A big obstacle is dealing with these countless encounters, but thankfully throughout play; their statistics and traits make it easier to keep track of who is who and why they have a part to play in your quest. All these characters are branches of your dynasty and you’ll have to keep them concerned with various diplomatic activities. Each character from your dynasty has influence over another and, also an opinion regarding you. Their personalities and opinions will have influence over your diplomatic relationship with other nations and your overall management. Not all of them are convinced by your method of declaration as they represent their opinion by numbers in their bios. These numbers can be altered from a scale of -100 to 100 by assigning rewards or revoking titles. And throughout the game it’s part of your key objectives to micromanage their opinions in your favor.
Other than keeping all these characters under your influence, you’ll also spend a lot of time conducting marriages. Marriages between your sons with powerful princesses or daughters with Lords of higher ranks. These will not only raise your prestige but also help your dynasty to achieve long term success. Thankfully the game provides you with a list of filtered characters when you decide to conduct marriage of a family member. These characters are given in order based on your preferences. Top ranked characters might not always be the best choice. You need to carefully compare and weigh up their strengths and weaknesses to find the right person. If by any chance you make the wrong choice, there are ways to amend the error, which we’ll talk about it in the later part of this review.
Beside your family members, there is an array of advisor slots which you can fill with characters; based on his or her strengths and weaknesses, including Chancellor, Marshal, Steward, Spymaster and Count Chaplain. You can assign a Chancellor to increase your diplomatic influence or a Marshal can train troops or suppresses revolts. Each of these five advisors will play a big part throughout the game, so you need to be calculative while appointing the right person. You can appoint new advisors from a list of available candidates; while there are many factors to consider in doing this. Besides these advisors, your vassals provide good support throughout the game – providing you stay on their good side. Otherwise, there might be clashes and your dynasty could heavily suffer from it. So it’s all about how you micromanage the opinions of the people you want to be or remain friends with.
During the play, you’ll come across a handful of enemies, in which there are several ways to deal with them. Sometimes your very own wife or even your son can turn against you. Fortunately though, you can always plot to have them killed or assassinated. You’ll be dealing with enemy units with your own. But in this game units are rather raised than built. And most of these units are provided by your vassals, which is a part of their feudal obligations. The happier you keep them, the better they serve up your cause. You can’t however raise army whenever you want. A war must be declared before you can start raising armies. And when you army reaches its limit, you need to wait till a unit dies. I found this system a little annoying because most conflicts my units attended, the winner was always the unit which had more men, which made each result a little predictable. These conflicts can be avoided by way of Marshals whether by surrendering or accepting their demand. The fun part is that you don’t always have to win and you’ll have to experience the first-hand to truly understand why.
One of the more annoying aspects of the game and what bothered me most is that the game doesn’t really have any ending. Not that it needs an ending as such, but the game will end itself in the year 1453. From the time you pick a character and a start date, you keep taking over your character’s heir and so on, but there’s never any grand finale or some ultimate fate that will befall you. As an engaging experience Crusader Kings II excels, and it’s rather hard to give up playing. What it misses most though is a more in-depth and interactive tutorial. There is a tutorial describing part by part each and every feature of the game in three different modes. But for someone who’s playing this game for the first time; it won’t be easy to cope, because despite all this it doesn’t tell you how to actually play the game.
Take a quick peek on the game, previewed by Gregory Curtis.
There is also room for improvements in terms of presentation. Other than the overhead view, there are way too many tools for anyone to get used to. Though over the time it’s easier to memorize all of them, but perhaps they could’ve been presented with more lucrative graphics. The reason I’m asking for more additional graphical elements is because you can be easily obscured at times by looking at the same outlook for hours. If it wasn’t for the interactive gameplay, Crusader Kings II might have had a hard time appealing towards hardcore strategy enthusiasts.
Crusader Kings II is a fun game to play. Unlike most strategy games the A.I. here is intense and brutal. There’s hardly any room for blunder, and even losing can turn out to be a fun thing. If you aren’t into medieval history, you might not enjoy the game as much as the developers wanted, but there is definitely a solid enough base here to appeal to that wider market.
Sarwar Ron, NoobFeed