by William Thompson
reviewed on PC
New to the series
When we were sent a review copy of Paradox Interactiveís latest release Victoria II, I had some reservations about doing the review, mainly due to not having played the original. So I decided to do a little bit of research about the game before putting my hand up to accept the challenge. I say challenge, because thatís exactly what you get when you take on the world in the colonial era of the 1800ís and early 1900ís that comprise Victoria II. It is always difficult reviewing a sequel, whether you have played the original or not. Not having played the original means that I had nothing to compare it to, but it also means that the learning curve can be a little steeper than for someone who has put plenty of time into the original.
Victoria II, for those of you new to the series, is a real-time strategy game where the player takes control of a single nation. Starting out on January 1st, 1836 it is your task to guide your chosen nation through industrialization, political reforms, military conquest, and colonization in an attempt to come out as the best nation in the world.
Trying a different strategy
This game is a distant step from other real-time strategy game such as the Total War series, as warmongering is only one aspect of winning in Victoria II. Indeed, gamers could theoretically win a game without even lifting a rifle in anger. A sizeable army and navy may still be required but may not need to be used at all. Building up prestige by forming alliances and spheres of influences as well as building up a strong social culture is another aspect. Boosting your industries and economy is the third facet. Together, these three features are used to calculate Victory points, which determine the gameís winner.
Like its predecessor, the game does have a somewhat steep learning curve. Those gamers who played the original may not have much of an issue, but for the newcomers to the series, there is a tutorial that does help in this regard. It doesnít fully get you prepared for what you experience in a fully-blown game, but it teaches the basic mechanics required to get you through.
So many aspects
Once you get into the game though, you are all on your own. The game can be paused at any time in case you want to go through an aspect of the game in the manual or if you want to plan your next move. And you will definitely need to pause from time to time, as the game is highly detailed. There are just a myriad of aspects that you must take into account when playing.
Is your population happy with your performance? Are you making enough of a certain commodity to continue your production line? Are you spending enough on research? Should you form an alliance with a neighbor? At first this can be a little daunting, especially if you have chosen a larger nation to play. Smaller nations provide the same questions, but on a smaller scale and are definitely more manageable. In fact, the only thing I can see that is missing from the game is the ability to have as many children as Queen Victoria and have them marry into other European monarchies.
Replay factor is huge.
Steep learning curve for newcomers to the series.