|Dev: Paradox Interactive|
|Pub: Paradox Interactive|
|Release: February 14, 2012|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Alcohol Reference, Mild Language, Mild Violence, Sexual Themes|
If your response to all this is, "That sounds boring," then just stop reading. Paradox has never tried to hide the fact that it makes games for a very narrow niche of players—heck, the tutorial alone will take you about 40 minutes, and even after that it will take hours before you feel anything like comfortable with the game. If you like some raw excitement with your strategy, you absolutely will not find it here.
This is all about poring over oodles of data about different countries and characters, and then trying to figure out how to get each moving part to behave the way you want it to. Games take a while to get interesting, even if you increase the speed of time, and it can take forever for a situation to resolve itself. By the time a game ends—in the 15th century if you live that long, or otherwise when you die with no heir—you will probably be sick of crusading for a while. And while I played the game before release and wasn't able to test the multiplayer component, which features up to 32 players, the idea of playing through a round of CKII without being able to pause or adjust the speed of time does not appeal to me.
So, in the grand tradition of Paradox games, how does CKII fare? It's a solid entry—the graphics are terrific (if overly similar to those of Sengoku), the music is epic, and, while I had to restart one section of the tutorial, the game itself played smoothly and auto-saved often. As difficult as it is to get the hang of CKII, the developers never abandon you—your advisers give you a steady stream of notices about things you need to do, and almost every time you bring up a menu, a hint screen appears to explain it to you.
Also, the attention to historical detail is truly astounding; if you take the time to explore this game, and to read the Wikipedia entries of the characters you find interesting, you will probably learn more about medieval Europe than you would in a college course on the subject. It's this dedication to real history that makes Crusader Kings II and Sengoku distinct entities—even if the two games are practically identical in many ways, the different settings, cultures, and characters make you feel like you're living in a different world. This is reflected in the end goals as well: In Sengoku you sought to become Shogun, but in CKII you simply try to acquire as much "Prestige" as possible by commanding the respect of others.
The bottom line is that Paradox Interactive knows its audience, and the developer hand-crafted Crusader Kings II to fit the needs of its dedicated fan base. This is not an accessible game, and it does not pretend to be. If you want an update to the original Crusader Kings, or if you want to play Sengoku in the context of a different culture, Crusader Kings II is a must-buy. If not, stay away.
Date: February 14, 2012