by William Thompson
reviewed on PC
Despite the highly detailed nature Victoria II, the interface is set out in a way that makes getting through the game a bit easier. A main menu bar at the top of the screen allows quick access to each of the main aspects of your nation’s progress. Production, the Budget, Technology, Politics, the Population, Trade, Diplomacy and Military are all available at the touch of a button. The bar itself contains basic information, but simply clicking on the required section gives gamers detailed data on each division.
There are also alerts along the side of the screen that inform the gamer of important events. A mini map on the bottom right of the page also makes it simple to view what is happening in various parts of the world quickly. Of course, there is the standard map scroll whereby you move to the edge of the map to scroll to your desired direction. Zooming in and out of the action is simply a matter of scrolling your mouse wheel. In all, the developers have done an amazing job fitting all this detail on screen without making it seemed at all cluttered.
Vintage sights and sounds
Visually, the game does an adequate job. It certainly competes with other strategy games such as Making History, but is not in the same league as the Big Daddy of current strategy games Civilization 4 (or the upcoming Civ V for that matter). In fact, battles in the 1990’s game Centurion: Defender of Rome were better visually than the battles played out in Victoria II. Having said that though, much of the game is played out in the Information screens and as mentioned earlier, these are well set out and it is clear to see how you are progressing in the game. During my games, I found myself in the Diplomacy, Politics and Production screens for large periods of games, whether it was to befriend a larger nation (when playing as a smaller nation) or to gain strength by gobbling up smaller nations under my sphere of control or even to organize the flow of goods throughout my empire. As such, the graphical qualities of the game can be excused somewhat.
As far as audio goes, Victoria II is passable. Well, the background music is actually outstanding. The orchestral tunes really put the grand scale of the game into perspective and fit in marvelously. Unfortunately, the fantastic musical scores are let down by the ho-hum sound effects. Special announcements are signified by various sound effects, such as crowds booing when an uprising occurs or the sound of cheering after an election is held. There doesn’t seem to be much variation either, so it some of the plain sounds get monotonous fairly early on in a game. The same can be said of the orchestral tunes, but their grand scale continues to do justice to the game for a much longer period than the sound effects.
One more turn
A typical game will take hours to play, so you are certainly getting your money’s worth when you fork out the cash for the game. Indeed, with such a huge number of playable nations to choose from, gamers could be playing this for months without even having played all the nations. The replayability is endless. There are plenty of “what if I had have done that instead” thoughts during the games. Indeed after playing for awhile and thoroughly learning the mechanics, the game drew me into that dreaded ‘one more turn’ frame of mind, despite the game being a real-time strategy. If you have some time to put into Victoria II, you will find this quite rewarding. But if you are looking for a game with a “wham-bam, thank you ma’am” attitude, you may have to look elsewhere for your gaming fix.
Replay factor is huge.
Steep learning curve for newcomers to the series.