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Crusader Kings II PC Review - -
Crusader Kings II
Reviewed by
Edwin Millheim
Crusader Kings II PC Preview. After running those tutorials off you goÖ and players will have all the courtly intrigue, army gathering and conquests and world running they can handle.

Gameplay 8.0
Graphics 8.0
Sound 8.5
Value 8.5
Review Date: Feb 2012
Paradox Development Studio
Edwin Millheim


Crusader Kings II
PC, PC download STEAM, Amazon

Crusader Kings II on first look seems like just another game styled after so many other well-known games that use an overhead map and a time period. Thatís where things steer into a different direction. This game may well be the best game created by the game smiths at Paradox Development Studio. Itís a huge strategy game with layers. I would suggest running the tutorial in the game. In fact I would also suggest keeping the hints option on, it is full of valuable playing information.

Taking place over a 400 year time span the players take on the persona of a character running the realms and struggling to make it in these troublesome times. Either way the game ends in 1452 giving players plenty of time to wear the crown on a trouble brow. How does this work you may ask? Well as the first primary character the player runs, grows old and passes away.

Throughout the game life, the character deals with the world and other characters of the court, they have stats and traits; they marry, and have children in hopes of conceiving an heir to the throne. That is the main point too, having a legitimate heir to the kingdom. As that first main character grows older and or dies before their time, as long as there is an heir the game goes on to 1452. Hierarchy and the bloodline are of some importance in this game as it was in yee olden days.

The game plays in different ways depending on how the player chooses to start. Hierarchy plays a role here. So if the player starts out as a lower rank of the upper class, say a Count, well you have some leveling to do.

As noted players can start the game on any date between September 15, 1066, and January 1, 1337. Some of the notable events in history are highlighted in the games manual such as Stamford Bridge opens on September 15, 1066. Harald Hadraada and William the Bastard are both challenging King Harold for the English Crown. William the Conqueror starts on December 26, 1066, after William has won the English Crown and the sobriquet Ďthe Conqueror.í The Third Crusade places you in the heart of Angevin Europe as the Third Crusade prepare to depart for the Holy Land and face off against the great Saladin. Finally, you can choose The Hundred Years War, which starts at the beginning of the English and French kingsí struggle for the crown of France.

As the game progresses each dynasty has an overall score and is added up after that character passes away. Other factors are input here as well such as how much prestige the character earned during that time. Every choice has a ripple effect to some extent. Choices made effect the characters friends and allies and vassals to every part of the realm.

There is so much information to be had during game play it can be over whelming at times; thankfully Paradox Development Studio has integrated so many buttons and drop downs to assist the player in keeping track of events and information. Plus the game can be paused to take a break or assess the situation. At the top left there is a button to take you to the Council Interface, viewing and editing the inner Court can be done here. Players can keep track of their Kingdoms laws, Technology can be viewed as well so the player can decide on what to research the better to advance your kingdom with my friends. The Military button is used to view and also raise both land and sea armies and navies. There is also an Intrigue button; here the player setís their ambitions, view plots and threats against the realm, and also keep track of any prisoners you may have.

Diplomacy is also part of the game as it well should be, and also has its own button. Here the player interacts with other nations and may well set the tone on how easy or hard it may be to get along later in the game. While itís a rare thing to see in a game, there is a Religion button. Here players can see how well or not so well they are getting along with the current Pope and Vassals in the area. Then of course there is the character button, here the player gets the most information about characters in the game. The pop up for this one gives information about family, allies, enemies, vassals and Heirs. The traits and stats of the character can also be found here.

Have a care as playing though, there is a button to speed things up, click that too much and the messages and events happen so fast you really do not have time to react at all. Use the speed up button sparingly, when things are heating up, you can either slow things down or pause to decide what to do next.

When the game does reach its end, the only real deciding factor on how well the player has done is the number of points accumulated. For even more of a challenge the player can try their hand against other online players, in up to 32 opponents. There is nothing more like having an actual thinking opponent at the other end of the moves to put a little more bite into a challenge.

The interface and game play seems polished enough, though the animations took some getting used to. I thought at first the game hung or there was a bug when I moved an army, there showed a path the army would take in the move, but the army seemed to be marching in place, almost like a clipping bug or being stuck in the graphics. But not to worry thatís just how the game plays out, it shows them on the march but not the journey itself, which may take some time to get to the point you, wanted them to get to.

As gaming goes in the grand strategy style, there is some replay ability here, with so much going on, try different playing styles, be aggressive, or less so. See how things turn out, be a tyrant if you like. Because as the game goes on, you subjects and court will come to you with requests for the people and the lands that they oversee for you, will you grant them a boon, or lock them up for daring to bring something up like lowering taxes?

The graphics of the lands and seas are beautiful to behold, with clouds shadow and weather passing over the lands as you look down from your almost celestial view from above. Sound is pleasing as well, with music and sound bites setting the mood for events appropriately. This is truly one of the better games to come out from Paradox Development Studio, now like most strategy games, things do not progress always at a fast pace. So some patience in gaming is involved here. I have my moments when action is all I crave, for some reason this game intrigues me enough to want to keep playing, and that is something indeed.

Playing as a lower level character is almost even more fun than starting out as the King, I mean sure, itís good to be kingÖ.but itís nice to see the designers of the game took not only their fan base into consideration with this oneÖno even someone new to this type of gaming would do well to have this as their first experience. After running those tutorials off you goÖ and players will have all the courtly intrigue, army gathering and conquests and world running they can handle.

Have fun, play games

Edwin Millheim



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