Conclusion: Crusader Kings II is one of the most conflicting games I have ever played. On the one hand, it is extremely difficult and people less patient than myself will quit fairly rapidly. On the other hand, the game leaves you with the impression that, if you persist long enough and manage to survive, it's going to reward you handsomely.
Pros: Crusader Kings II provides the players with the chance to influence history and to rewrite it according to their own views. It has virtually no competitors in its small niche and all the provided DLCs offer an extra oomph to an already complex game., + Historical accuracy, + Various scenarios that never play out the same, + Powerful engine
Cons: For such a complex game, there are virtually no problems. The only shortcoming is the most abrupt learning curve in the history of gaming. Maybe I’m overreacting, but I had to restart the game numerous times because of silly mistakes or maybe because I just got lost in new features I didn’t even know they existed., - Steep learning curve, - The gameplay relies too much on assassinations
Excerpt: Rather than simply telling her to drop the plot so that I can forgive the whole sordid affair, I decided to imprison her, something that Ota, my brother and her husband, found hard to swallow. Relations between us quickly went down to -100, which pretty much meant that at some point he was going to betray me and rise up in open revolt.
Pros: + Deep character-driven interactions, + Solid historical simulation, + Great User Interface
Cons: - Limited plot scope, - Some hard-to-learn mechanics
Summary: It’s hard to recommend Crusader Kings II to people who aren’t already used to Paradox strategy games. But then again, it’s hard to not recommend it to newcomers who want this kind of experience. It took awhile, but the game finally got interesting around hour six when my patricidal Corsican sons could only unite under the cause of invading Muslin Spain, which was ruled by the overwhelmed and inexperienced four-year-old Emir Fath I (thanks to a lucky assassination plot on...
Excerpt: We gamers are always talking about the “stories” in our games, like how so-and-so RPG had a great one, and this other game’s was pathetic. But usually we’re really talking about canned plots, prefabbed rollercoaster rides dreamed up by the designers. Unfortunately, it’s rare to find games that give you the freedom to experience your own unique stories.
Pros: Fun stories spring from gameplay, Detailed medieval simulation, Backstabbing and duplicity
Cons: Learning curve intimidates, Interface could be improved, Currently feels Christian-centric
Excerpt: You've heard the story a thousand times. You, the fearless leader of the country of your choice, are given control of your medieval fiefdom of choice, and it is up to you to unite Europe under your rule. However, Crusader Kings II is an entirely different beast than such well-known titles as Medieval II: Total War.
Excerpt: I’ll be honest here; I’m a bit of a Paradox fanboy. I’ve been buying and playing their games since the original Europa Universalis , and especially like the Victoria series. However, I was never a Crusader Kings fanatic; there are those on the very active Paradox forums for whom there is literally no other game. I played the original Crusader Kings , and thought it was a good game but not really my style.
Pros: Excellent gameplay, graphics and sound; overall a high quality strategic simulation
Cons: Subject matter may not appeal to all; game has a learning curve; combat lacks detail
Excerpt: I’m a bit ambivalent on Crusader Kings II. Not because I don’t love it. I do. What’s more, I deeply admire what Paradox has done here. Paradox is the most ambitious and important developer of strategy games since Sid Meier. But there’s something mildly sadistic about Crusader Kings II’s complexity and reach. Maybe even passively aggressively sadistic. I’m not saying it’s not accessible, because it is, to an extent.
Conclusion: Crusader Kings II features a superbly crafted interface that gives access to a dizzying amount of data. Past Europa games often dropped the ball on presenting their information in an easy to find way. The current engine makes lavish use of tooltips tutorial screens that entice the user to discover new ways of finding and absorbing information. Only the warning icon for the held Duchies limit seems to have been forgotten.
Conclusion: Whilst the subject matter and the set-up may not be to everyone’s liking, Crusader Kings II is definitely the most impressive Paradox game to date. The game mechanics are an interesting twist on a well-known genre, the code itself is highly polished, and it’s just a really fun and interesting game to play. Some minor improvements could still be made, and this really is a game of patience, even more so than other Paradox games.