by Ryan Sandrey
reviewed on PC
You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade...
Paradox Interactive are renowned for the mind-bending attention to detail they place within their turn-based strategy games, and the latest collaboration with AGEOD promises more of the same, with the military strategy powerhouses combining their efforts once more. If you’re a casual strategy gamer, be warned: this game probably isn’t for you. However, is this game the Pride of the Paradox roster, or is it a nation in crisis?
Pride of Nations is a turn-based strategy game set in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, with the Grand Campaign encompassing 70 years from 1850-1920, with a grand total of 1681 turns of a fortnight each. This isn’t a game that can be won or lost in one turn, like the fantastic Total War series. It takes time, careful planning and political acumen to win this game, and that’s part of the draw. The game is played out on a world map of epic proportions, encompassing the entire globe, with every country a possibility for you to invade or trade with. Out of this vast, expansive world, however, comes only 8 playable countries, which is a disappointment as I personally would liked to have had a wide variety of choices rather than having a handful of the established countries such as the UK and a couple of ‘backward’ countries like Japan and Russia. But it isn’t an overwhelming problem, with each of the 8 nations providing a unique experience to the player, with varying levels of difficulty.
...for which we have loaded these many minutes.
Before you can even get into the game, however, you are greeted with gratuitous amounts of loading screens. In a game on such a grand scale, you would expect a fair amount of loading when starting the game for the first time, and you are greeted with a wait of a few minutes to get to the menu, which is to be expected with the sheer amount of assets the game has to load. What is perturbing, however, is the amount of time it takes to load between turns. Timing the time it took to load a new turn in a game on a 2-year-old Quad core system took 4 minutes. This is clearly a very time consuming game, and that’s before you get to the Campaign itself.
Before you even begin to play the Grand Campaign or one of the many scenarios, which include the 2nd Boer War, it is necessary to spend a considerable amount of time getting to grips with the seemingly insurmountable learning curve which is inextricably linked to a desire to not only conquer the colonial world you will play in, but also conquer the mechanics of the game as well. The Tutorials are necessary to grip the aspects of this game, which is the most complex that AGEOD have ever developed, with it handling 4 aspects of strategy rather than just military strategy. Whilst incredibly text-heavy, the tutorials are useful for allowing the player to understand the mechanics of the game, whether they are a strategic genius, or a complete novice. Once you’ve completed all of the tutorials in about an hour, you’re ready to hit the big time, provided you have...
Patience, my dear boy!
Once you load up the Grand Campaign, even after all the tutorials you have just sat through, you won’t know everything there is to know about the game, nor will you ever get to grips with every single possibility of world diplomacy, but there is a certain extent of ‘learn as you conquer’ about the whole game. Within the game itself, there are four game modes you need to get to grips with, each with their own sub-mode. Military, colonial, economic and decisions are all handled within their own game mode, toggled by a button on the user-interface, which is incredibly difficult to grasp, as each mode changes the layout of the UI slightly and this, combined with the sheer amount of buttons around the mini-map, makes the interface counter-intuitive and sometimes even a chore to use, but with a game as complex as this, it is to be expected.
Accurate representation of the 19th Century political landscape. Budget price tag. Incredible amount of depth.
Incredibly basic graphics. Long loading times. Steep learning curve. Game-breaking crashes.