Back in the day (the day being the mid to late 2000s), if you wanted to rule over your very own country of historical significance and play a game of relative historical accuracy, you'd definitely be reaching for games like Medieval: Total War. If you wanted a game that took a slightly different approach to the action, allowing you to rule a country through a highly detailed, grand-scale strategic system involving the establishing of a dynasty and bloodline as well as taking care of your country or kingdom in stupendously engrossing detail, you'd brush aside Total War and reach instead for Crusader Kings. Paradox Entertainment have obviously been busy since Crusader Kings' release in 2004 because it's back with the sequel, Crusader Kings 2, and it's an equally epic experience.
As is the usual procedure to kick things off in Crusade Kings you are asked to choose a starting year (there are many to choose from between 1066 and 1337) as well as your very own empire or kingdom that will be the subject of your rule throughout your epic campaign. There is a healthy selection of empires and states to work around the tastes of most people, from one of the largest (and most famous) in the form of the Holy Roman Empire right down to comparatively miniscule and insignificant kingdoms, with the latter often being the most entertaining since your prospective success will be built from the ground up.Continue Reading
Release Date:14th February 2012
Available on: Linux, Mac, Windows, PC Download
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Crusader Kings 2 - Paradox's long-awaited grand-strategy sequel that's just as epic - and in equal measure inaccessible to casual gamers- as its predecessor
Making Crusader Kings II (as well as the original Crusader Kings) such a distinguished title from its competitors is the game's focus on the human aspect of power, and the implications of relationships, whether these are between you (as the ruler) and your subjects or between the different classes of your society in general.
A great example of the importance of relationships in Crusader Kings 2 is the marked difference between choosing a large empire or a small one to rule: the former possesses a great deal of established might with its infrastructure and military but likewise has already-established figures like earls and dukes that have their own agenda that may contravene yours; the latter may not have the might or influence that a great empire carries but you'll be able to establish your own relationships at the outset that will flow in the direction you want them to.
You'll spend much of your time observing a number that accompanies each character in your game that represents their opinion of you as a ruler, ranging from -100 to 100- strong disapproval and hatred to glowing approval. The higher their opinion of you, the easier it will be to rule over them. These numbers will rise and fall depending on a ridiculously complex web of factors that encompasses everything from the way you deal with the finances of each social class and your relationships with surrounding nations to the stability and longevity of your rule.
The way your rule is structured and how it is displayed through the interface are two indicators of the game's emphasis on relationships. The territories in your empire are ruled in a semiautonomous fashion with your bishops and the like collecting your income, though only if their approval of your is high enough. A drop in opinion means an associated drop in income and therefore a squeeze on your empire as a whole. It may seem fickle and rather callous but relationships are key here and letting them break down can lead to the demise of your empire in its entirety. That's the feudal system for you.
You must also keep your family in order in Crusader Kings II, ensuring that your prestige score throughout each successive ruler of each generation is as high as possible as your final score in 1453 is an aggregate of all of the rulers of your dynasty. Your family interactions are remarkably detailed, with everything from taking a wife to your own sexuality being a factor.
To War, Eventually
Surprisingly, warfare in Crusader Kings II isn't its biggest attraction. This is mainly because battles still aren't represented in a detailed and dynamic fashion but rather more broadly with just two opposing characters on screen fighting it out, supposedly representing the armies they fight for in their entirety. This is probably the most disappointing aspect of the game because the typical consumer of this kind of game is looking for epic battles of the likes you'll see in games like Command and Conquer; this shortcoming is simply unacceptable in the technologically advanced year of 2014.
You won't be battling straight away either since you need a stable economy in order to build an army, and this simply takes time. And that's what Crusader Kings 2 really boils down to: your management of people, relationships, and power over time. Casual strategy fans will be put off by the sheer complexity and depth of the game, as well as the fact there's no substantive tutorial to show you the ropes. It's a great game, there's no denying that, but it's only for the serious grand-strategy heads: for this audience it may be the greatest game of its kind in existence.
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Crusader Kings 2 is developed by Paradox Development Studio.