Europa Universalis III Divine Wind PC Review
EU as a franchise has a bit of pedigree. I’ve never played the games before, but having heard so much about the other entries in the franchise, I figured that it would be a quality title. I expected it to be similar to games like Tropico and Civilization, given the context and genre of the game. Upon first looking at it, the game can be very overwhelming, especially considering the tutorial isn’t automatic, and it’s split up into multiple chapters. The flow of learning is disjointed, but this format also allows players to revisit individual chapters for refreshers, as opposed to watching/participating in a lengthy tutorial again. There’s a lot to take in, but I have a feeling there is some deeply engrossing gameplay underneath the overwhelmingly complex exterior.
There isn’t really any story to EU. You kind of just…make your own story. It’s a new concept in a strategy sim game, and frankly one that works well in this kind of context. Whereas in other sim/strategy games you’re given a campaign that you work through, EU has no real end goal, or any sort of story goals. You make your own goals, set your own standards. Build your country from the ground up or control an established world power. Fight for world domination or become a renowned diplomatic power. It’s all entirely up to you. It should be noted, however, that there are some underlying pretexts already in play, depending on the nation you choose to control. Things like known wars in history, certain key battles, etc. I blame history for harshing the creative buzz of this game, man.
Visuals are simplistic and low res. While this would normally score a game low, the draw of EU is the gameplay and mechanics, not the visuals. The UI is very tiny, which can be a little bit frustrating when looking for certain icons/menus, but it otherwise leaves the screen open to the map. The map itself is superbly well done. The art is simple but sharp, and the boundaries, units, and buildings all fit together in a minimalistic art style that compliments the gameplay. It’s all very cartoony and blocky, with higher detail on things like units (gilded metal on the weapons and armour) and ships (individual wooden planks, etc). Definately not a game that focuses on pretty or high definition visuals.
The music is pretty good. It shifts from soft, lilting melodies to intense, sweeping military music. The songs fit the current actions: during periods of peace and diplomacy, the softer music plays. During battles or periods of discovery, the more intense music plays. It all fits very well together. The only drawback is the volume of the battle sound effects. Its a bit too loud, and simultaneously drowns out the music and jarringly draws the player out of the immersion.
The biggest asset and drawback of EU is its sandbox-style gameplay. While at once being fantastic for allowing the player to essentially play ruler for an entire nation throughout history, it also offers little to no help or guidance either. While the tutorial offers instruction of where all of the menus and options are, and how to use everything, plays will likely find themselves constantly going back to the tutorials for tips or to refresh their knowledge of the UI. Complexity is only good if the player is able to comfortably ease into the complexity, and EU makes that process somewhat difficult. That being said, it’s a fantastically in-depth game, with tons of ways to play and lots of very intricate and interesting mechanics that add to the overarching goals you set for yourself.
Because of the open-ended nature of the game, there is essentially unlimited replayability. For diehard sim or strategy enthusiasts, this will definitely be the case; for a regular strategy gamer, I can’t see more than a few playthroughs. Mind you, each playthrough will last a good number of weeks, let alone days or hours. There are
Final Thoughts 7/10
EU is a very complex strategy/nation sim that offers players the chance to take control over a nation in absolutely ever respect. While this kind of open-ended gameplay may scare off regular gamers with its complete lack of structure, with a little bit of perseverance EU can be as complex or as simple as a player wants it to be. It has a lot of depth, and the infinite replayability of the game allows for a completely different experience each and every time its played. At its heart, EU isn’t just a nation-sim or a strategy game, it’s a literal world-simulator. If that’s your idea of a good time, EU won’t disappoint. If it sounds too complex, it’s probably better to stick with games that’s closer to the tenants of the genre.