Crusader Kings II Review
Crusader Kings II Box Art
System: PC
Dev: Paradox Interactive
Pub: Paradox Interactive
Release: February 14, 2012
Players: 1
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.

Crusader Kings II Screenshot

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.

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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.

By
Robert VerBruggen
Contributing Writer
@RAVerBruggen
Date: February 14, 2012

RATING OUT OF 5
RATING DESCRIPTION
4.2
Graphics
The game looks good, but the graphics are very similar to Sengoku's.
4.4
Control
It's just pointing and clicking, though the menu system is complicated.
4.0
Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
The tunes are epic.
4.3
Play Value
This is not for everyone, but Paradox fans will eat it right up.
4.3
Overall Rating - Great
Not an average. See Rating legend below for a final score breakdown.
Review Rating Legend
0.1 - 1.9 = Avoid 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 3.5 - 3.9 = Good 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair 4.0 - 4.4 = Great 5.0 = The Best

Game Features:

  • Start a game at any point between 1066 and 1337 and play until 1453.
  • Pick a Christian lord and make sure his dynasty survives as you play a succession of his descendants through the ages.
  • Gain Prestige for every successive character you play, furthering the glory of your Dynasty.
  • Expand your feudal domain—and keep it from falling apart
  • Unravel the plots of your courtiers and vassals, each of whom has their own opinions and agendas.
  • Take up the Cross and fight the Moor, the Heathen, and the Heretic.
  • Defend against the onslaught of the Mongol Horde, and struggle with the Pope for control of the bishops.
  • Relive the Middle Ages with up to 32 other players in a competitive multiplayer mode.

  • Screenshots / Images
    Crusader Kings II Screenshot - click to enlarge Crusader Kings II Screenshot - click to enlarge Crusader Kings II Screenshot - click to enlarge Crusader Kings II Screenshot - click to enlarge Crusader Kings II Screenshot - click to enlarge Crusader Kings II Screenshot - click to enlarge Crusader Kings II Screenshot - click to enlarge Crusader Kings II Screenshot - click to enlarge Crusader Kings II Screenshot - click to enlarge Crusader Kings II Screenshot - click to enlarge

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