"Approximately a year ago, Jason Venter reviewed the vanilla version of Europa Universalis III for this very site. Jason articulately chronicled his rise to power as Calais in the fifteenth century, writing of how rebels would easily seize territory and he would hastily be defeated. Mr.Venter discovered, very quickly, the importance of being a competent leader. The people do not respond well to being constantly drafted into the forces, nor do they appreciate needlessly high taxes. If you are a fair ruler and concentrate on appeasing the masses (along with your neighbours) then the game makes for a very pleasant experience."
Approximately a year ago, Jason Venter reviewed the vanilla version of Europa Universalis III for this very site. Jason articulately chronicled his rise to power as Calais in the fifteenth century, writing of how rebels would easily seize territory and he would hastily be defeated. Mr.Venter discovered, very quickly, the importance of being a competent leader. The people do not respond well to being constantly drafted into the forces, nor do they appreciate needlessly high taxes. If you are a fair ruler and concentrate on appeasing the masses (along with your neighbours) then the game makes for a very pleasant experience. This play style was used in the original review and the title seized a ten as a result.
I highly commend anyone who has the will to tackle the game in such a way. Investing time and effort into expanding a single, small region and seeing your country evolve into an empire over hundreds of years is certainly a rewarding experience. There is leeway for the player to become emotionally attached to their country, given the huge timespan and number of options available. When the head of state of each era dies off, you may actually feel a vague sense of loss. After all, this ruler may have seen the nation through wars, rebellions and plagues. He or she may have even died on the battlefield defending their country. Its powerful stuff, if you allow yourself to be immersed and emphatic towards the computer-controlled creations.
However, for any of the above to happen, then approaching the game with patience is essential. Despite presenting itself as a 'real time strategy', EUIII is very slow-burning. Days may pass as seconds, but it takes months to fill coffers and years to raise armies. Certainly, there is always the option of sitting idle for decades and building up relations with nearby countries to prevent war, but that's like playing The Sims without ever deliberately killing anyone. Moreover, the lazy experience turns into a beginner's guide to accountancy, as you spend decades tweaking numbers and moderating the sentiments of the people. At first, I tried to play like this; believing that running into battle at the first sign of hostility was not a wise direction for any new country to take. It wasn't long before I realised the stoic approach was not necessarily the most interesting and took to warmongering. This began as leading a small invasion force into the surrounding, independent regions around France. Then, the game's quality took a downturn.
The Complete edition of EUIII brandishes its new military capabilities in the face of anyone showing the slightest interest. For a title that promotes its expanded violent aspects so heavily, it falters terribly. Battles are fought in the most boring, unglamorous way possible; two soldier figurines causal poking one another on the world map, supposedly representing a conflict that often involve thousands of fighters. Its an abstract artistic choice that this sadly reprised in many other typically turn-based strategies. We are not 1991 and this is not a graphically-pressured Civilisation I, so why do fights always take place in this format? There are other issues which are not present in EU's peers here, though. Enemy units have an awful habit of being routed, only to move onto the next region and lay siege to the town there. This leads to absurd situations where my men would almost endlessly pursue a so-called 'defeated' foreign army across my own lands before being able to entirely eliminate them. Furthermore, the advancement of technology is so slow that you'll be utilising the same tactics and unit types for decades. Historically accurate perhaps, but this doesn't stop the charade from being any less boring.
The game is riddled with a few other holes, too. Dedicated gamers are going to spend hours playing this title, so why include a rather unoriginal, dull and overall annoying soundtrack? Want classic music done well? Check out the highly under-rated Archlord music files. Moreover, in the gameplay section, fellow rulers are fickle and unpredictable; especially if you're an independent state. Warnings from enemies are few and far between, meaning that if you cannot be bothered having to manage your relations constantly, then you must remain forever vigilant against possible attacks from all sides.
We all know people who love turn-based strategies in any form who will simply be enfactuated with Europa Universalis III: Complete, wrinkles and all. The expansions offer new options for provinces and the free patches include more freedom for spies and other elements of espionage. There's a lot to this game, but it demands the player applies the right mindset and tactics to their style in order to thoroughly enjoy it.
Freelance review by Freelance Writer (December 17, 2008)
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