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Victoria II Review
Review Score:

Imagine if you will that Civilisation 3 and Democracy 2 got together for a naughty cuddle after debating the finer points of the Victorian Era. The resulting combination could be Victoria II by Paradox Interactive.

7 years after the release of the original, Victoria II comes out this month for your PC. The original slipped me by in a year I spent playing Freelancer and SimCity 4, and I was way too interested in blowing up aliens or dropping monsters into cities to care. These days, my tastes have matured somewhat and I can happily while away the hours on Civ4 or the selection of simulation games that I have lurking on my shelf. Now I have never played any Paradox games before and this review is based on the assumption that the reader hasn’t as well.

Victoria II allows you to take control of one of 200 countries available and play through the period of 1836 to 1935 as you attempt to industrialise your nation and gain dominance throughout the globe. Country choices range from Britain as the dominant Great Power of the world, to Atjey with just a couple of provinces to their names.

Sitting there waiting for the game to install I began flicking through the e-manual and laughed when the manual stated that it would take a long time to load up and you ‘will know the launch is progressing because every minute or so a new graphic will appear, and the hourglass cursor will be turning.’ Thankfully I have a fairly beefy machine and the process was over in less than a minute and was finally greeted by the splash screen but not before noticing the page in the manual that stated that I should look through the free Strategy Guide before playing. Now I try avoiding any such guide upon a purchase of a new game however Victoria II was actually recommending it.. I sat confused and opened up the PDF version of it to see a 91 page monster. I prayed for big text and lots of pictures however was greeted by a tiny font and a ton of information.

So I tried.. I really tried to flick through the guide but there was no way I was going to spend an hour or more reading through that so I booted up the tutorials and began to learn some of the basics. That was before the game just randomly crashed on me as I was trying to just click on a unit. I tried again and to be fair they showed me how to use the menus but there was no context to them. Sure I knew what each screen did but it was up to me to make the link on how to use that information. A game this size could have used a tutorial where you followed it step by step through how to get a province up and running or how any decisions you make can change opinions, but you got nothing but screen after screen of information. With a game this complex, there was no way you could take in everything.

After sitting through all the tutorials, I delved into the game as the smallest country (as I thought it would be easier to manage), and promptly ran straight out of money without doing anything. I thought to myself that I better raise my taxes a little to get some more money in my coffers, but my population got annoyed and I wound up losing more cash, and they game automatically started taking loans out from other countries. I suddenly knew how Greece felt as I put the country into major debt.

I tried again and again with numerous different countries and just got bombarded with pop up messages or haemorrhaging cash. Nothing would help and I could have used some decent guidance. Guidance that the game doesn’t give you unless you plow through their guide.

Where the game does shine is in the political and diplomacy engines that it has in place. On my playthroughs I noticed that my population were beginning to want certain things (like a minimum wage the scoundrels!!) and adopting certain reforms can help please these parties. Likewise they can grow annoyed if part of your country is annexed away and this festers until either you take it back or enough time has past that they forget it even belonged to them. If you enter into a war with another country, you can declare certain aims to justify the effort to the public. Sadly there was no ‘seizing their oil under the guise of liberating the country’ option though. However constantly going to war earns you infamy and the warmongers amongst you will soon find other countries will get involved to calm things down (ie flatten you)

I feel that Victoria II has the potential inside it to be a really good game, however the learning curve required is pretty steep for those not already aware of Paradox’s games. Which is a shame as I feel that with some hand holding and easing you into things, this game could have been quite engrossing. However as it stands currently, only hardcore gamers interested in the genre or era would be interested.

Update - Upon seeing some of the comments that came up after this initially posted earlier than planned, I would like to say that this game was reviewed having not played any of Paradox Interactive’s previous games and should be considered the viewpoint of someone as such (ie someone picking it up at GAME thinking its going to be like Civ4). Since the previous post I have spent time on the games forum and gone through the manual top to toe (again), and it still feels like the game expects you to know what you are doing before playing (or to sit there and scour the manual whilst playing) and have also found a few people on Victoria 2′s own forum that feel the same way. As previously stated, those that are awaiting the game are going to love it but mainstream gamers are going to be turned away.. hence the score given.

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Rating: 8.4/10 (52 votes cast)
Victoria II Review, 8.4 out of 10 based on 52 ratings
  • Alaric

    So basically, you were too stupid to get into the game. I guess that’s why you review games.

  • Firenz

    Think it’s pretty safe to say that the problems highlighted here (learning curve for the most part) are irrelevant to the majority of people who will by this game as they’ll be the Paradox fans who’ve been waiting for years to get their hands on it.

  • Spricar

    I don’t think you can give an honest review of any complex game if you haven’t really read the manual. This is not a FPS so you can’t expect that you’ll just jump into game and know how to play it. It is even more unfair that you gave this game a bad score just because it was too complex for you. You are reviewing the game, not your handling of it.

  • Snall

    Reviewer is a maroon. Lol.

  • https://?u=craigbaker Craig Baker

    Reviewer isn’t a moron. If you need to read a 91 page manual before playing that isn’t a game, its a fucking chore. This game sounds like the biggest pile of shit and I bet it is. Not the reviewers fault that the devs made a shitty game that only they could fucking understand.

  • KingAlbert

    all paradox games are awfully complex. But once u get the hang of it theyre phenomenal. As long as theyres no crashin. LOL

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