Saturday, December 14, 2013

Europa Universalis IV: a very short review

Have you played Europa Universalis IV?


Well, let me tell you how it's going to go.

First, you'll download the game and install it. When you start it up, you'll gape at the beauty of the screen.

You'll work your way through the tutorials, getting an understanding for how the interface works, and what the various screens and dialogs are trying to tell you.

All too soon, you'll be finished with the tutorial, and you'll be invited to play a game. "Pick a country!", the computer says, "and let's get going."

So you do.

And you are immediately lost, baffled, overwhelmed.

But you'll persevere. You'll take some time to read the manual, which Paradox have so thoughtfully made available for all.

You'll spend time reading about the game on the Internet, considering the various advice, strategies, and tips that people discuss.

And you'll keep trying to play.

After a while, you'll learn how to pause the game, and how to slow the game speed way down, so that you can see what's happening.

And at some point, when you least expect it, you'll find that you suddenly can't stop thinking about the game.

"France needs to ally with Aragon," you'll think to yourself, "so what would make that happen?" Should you investigate a Royal Marriage? Send a diplomat to improve relations? Offer a bribe? Eventually, you learn enough about the game to discern that Aragon's reluctance is due to the active war that France is prosecuting with England.

And so you wonder if sueing for peace with England, to your north, will actually aid in relations elsewhere on the continent? How will you manage to unite the various dukedoms, and form a unified France?

Meanwhile, you've got troops to lead, an economy to run, diplomatic enquiries from all fronts, and a trading empire to build.

Each time you play, you'll realize how crude your previous attempts were, and how horribly you've mis-managed affairs, and so you'll start anew again, and again, and again.

Before you know it, Steam will tell you that you've been playing a total of 74 hours so far, and you still feel like such a rank amateur.

Will you enjoy it? I don't know. This is a vast and complex game, like nothing you've played before.

But if you think you might enjoy it, I encourage you to give it a try, as the game is truly a work of art, and enormously repays the time you devote to it.

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