Excerpt: At first, I thought I was doing badly. My army was pathetic, my research similarly so, and only my prestige and piety showed I was on the right track. And then it happened. All of a sudden, I owned medieval Castille. All of it. And for a good few minutes, I had no idea why. Then it hit me. It was all due to a marriage I'd made at the beginning of the game. 5 hours ago. In another 5 hours of play, I'll probably own Leon too. I just have to play my cards right...
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
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: Last year, I randomly stumbled on an old, graphically ancient medieval strategy game called Knights of Honor . It's a fairly simple game to master, as you spend 90-100% of the time staring at a map of Europe, essentially only managing the "strategic map" portion of the Total War games. I played the hell out of that game, and came away enjoying it more than most full priced, modern games.
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.
Pros: Best Europa Universalis game to date, hands down.
Cons: The Emperor’s New Clothes applies, even if they’re very nice ones.
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.