|System: PC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Paradox||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Valuesoft||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Jan. 23, 2007||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1 - 32 (online)||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: E||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Matthew Walker
We have all played RISK, some of us better than others, and thought we were Napoleon trying to conquer the world. How many of us have ever wondered what it would be like to dive deep into the workings of the governments we were commanding? With Europa Universalis, by Vaulesoft and Paradox Development, we are able to control nearly every aspect, and the third is no exception. A strategy game in every way, Europa III improves on nearly every point of its predecessors. Broadening the gameplay extensively, it is no wonder that the box reads "a grand strategy game." Of course, if you are new to the series, the depth of the game might seem too broad, but Paradox has made this edition simplistic as well as challenging.
It is a bit daunting at first, but sticking with it will provide for a rewarding experience. Early on, you may feel a bit overwhelmed by the complexity of the game. The thing about Europa Universalis III is that it will grow with the player. As you progress, the gameplay will become more difficult, but it anticipates the growth of even the most inexperienced gamer. After a short period of time, you will be directing your nation with ease.
At the start of the game, you must first choose a starting point among a span of 330 years of Renaissance history and then choose one of 250 nations. The era you choose, 1453 to 1792, determines the countries that are available, but if it existed then you can choose it right down to the tiniest long forgotten principalities. Interacting with greats such as Sir Isaac Newton and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart will play a huge factor in the time-period you choose. For newcomers, you can ask for assistance, allowing for easier gameplay until you are ready to fully explore the vastness of the game. From this point, you decide what direction your nation will take. You decide whether you will set out to explore the New World, converting your provinces to the state religion, or the popular choice of world domination. However, choosing world domination could eventually cause disastrous damage on the nation. If you attack another nation without a good enough cause, your government may become unstable, as well as your nation as a whole. If the stability of your nation is not kept in check, you will leave yourself open for attack from other nations or inner nation rebellions. This will divert your attention away from conquering to maintaining, thus possibly jeopardizing your nation altogether. You can attack without a reason using one of the games new additions, espionage. Sending in a spy to disrupt the enemy's troops may sound good, but with the possibility of capture with success or failure, you run the risk of starting war automatically. An advantage to this though is that you can send in diplomats to either fix the problem or further damage it.
If world domination is in your heart, you are going to need an army. Here you can build you infantry, artillery, cavalry, and a naval fleet. You can even divide your military factions accordingly, but to do this you need to recruit a general. Scouting a general for your army is easy, but you are also given the choice of you running this aspect of the nation as well. After all, who better to run the military than the nation's leader? Aside from conquering your neighboring countries, there are ways of increasing your borders without the trumpets of war. Forming a mutual alliance, a royal marriage, and a trade agreement are only a few of the options you have if you are not the control the world type. Unfortunately, the innovative aspect of not being gung-ho for world domination is slightly cheapened. Giving you the option to start a war proclaiming a guarantee to another country that is then attacked comes across as a shortcut and a little out of place considering the depth of the game.
Controlling the economy, religion, and the domestic policies of your government can also at times seem a little overwhelming. Using a slider system allows you to choose which route your government will grow, but do so cautiously. Making the wrong decisions early in the game can result in the fall of your great nation. Adding more money to certain areas of your government will open up new areas of gameplay or offer advancements in the style you like to play. For example, if you decided to focus on military choosing the Grand Navy will allow you to build more ships for your fleet. Only being able to adjust the sliders by one click each year can affect the quickness of the game immensely. Also with the game being presented in real time you can really feel the pressure of making the right decisions, but with the options of slowing the clock or even pausing it you can quickly regain control of n out of control situation and slowly mold you nation into the great prestigious nation it is meant to be.
Graphically, Europa Universalis III is nothing to boast about, but the 3-D engine adds a definite improvement to the series. Nor is the music anything to clamor on about, except that it provides a melodic tone for the times without being obnoxiously repetitive. The realistic sounds of battle add a nice sense of realism to the game without becoming mundane. The multiplayer broadens the scope of the game even further. Whether up to 32 players join together in a single game, or just you and a few friends, Europa Universalis III charges the multiplayer aspect of strategy to a new level. Allowing multiple players to select one nation and then working together to forge the best nation adds a real sense of teamwork.
Paradox has made huge leaps in the series with its latest edition. With its simple controls and easy to understand directives, Europa Universalis III is both for newcomers and old veterans of the series alike. Even with the shortcuts to war and lack of gameplay advisors, the advancements in the series alone should warrant enough urge to dive right in. The sheer magnitude of Europa will draw you in and hold tight. With the capability of starting anywhere in the 330 year span you will be anxious to seethe world in different times, even after you have dominated your corner of the world. So close the RISK box and enjoy a strategy game without losing your friends in the process of world domination and government diplomacy.
CCC Freelance Writer
Rating out of 5
A definite improvement over previous editions.
Simple and easier to figure out.
/ Sound FX / Voice Acting
Music that fits the situations that does not become stale.
Addictive and extremely hard to tear yourself away from.