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Publisher: Paradox Interactive    Genre: Strategy & War
Min OS X: Any Version    CPU: G3 @ 333 MHz    RAM: 128 MB

Europa Universalis II
October 27, 2003 | Chris Ritchie

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Strategy games are an ambitious endeavor, both for the company producing the game, and equally as much for the end-user buying and playing the game. The emphasis is not on mind splitting graphics, but on a set of unique rules that govern the digital populace under the control of the benevolent (or malevolent) ruler. In the follow up to the 2001 Europa Universalis (which is based on a board game), the sequel expands on the already detailed rules system that were presented in the original. EU II attempts to give the player control over the various factors that a real-life dictator would have to control. The game aims high, allowing for minute control over your countries infrastructure, but for a less experienced strategy gamer the levels of detail can be overwhelming.

If you are new to the Europa games, the first step you should take is the tutorial. The gameís mechanics are vast enough that even a careful read of the manual might leave your head spinning when you attempt your first game. The tutorials are very informative and helpful, allowing you to grasp the underlying nature of the game in fairly short order. Even veteran strategy gamers would find some benefit in learning some of the more peculiar in-game features that you would be hard pressed to find in other strategy games.

The single player allows you to choose between a number of scenarios, the majority of which force you into the role of a leader of an already established nation with a list of goals required to win. The bulk of the game is set around these scenarios, and only one scenario allows for you to build your civilization from the ground up. Once you choose a scenario, you the pick the country you wish to lead and your journey in to the annals of digitized history can begin.

The gameplay is centered around a variety of factors, all of which have a direct relationship with one another. As an example, going to war with a foreign country without first having the diplomatic reasons for attacking will cause your people to become angry, and for the other leaders to view you as a threat. The major categories which you control are economics (trade, income, investments), diplomacy, religion, and of course, the military.

One of the more important of these categories is your economy, a well funded monarchy is a happy monarchy. One of the larger sources of income for your country is colonies. Every territory has a specific product like gold, sheep, or grain that they can produce. Therefore, sending colonists out to set up camp in a territory with a high gold yield can be a fortuitous endeavor, while sending colonists out to take over a land with the only major product being sheep might very well end up costing your country. Colonization, like most things in EU II, is not instantaneous. The first colonist you send out has the possibility of establishing a colony if the natives donít kill them off first. To counteract the possibility of your colonists being sacked by a band of armed nomads, it is always best to send in one of your army units first. After you establish your first colony, itís abilities are rudimentary. It will produce only small amounts of revenue for the capital, and will be unable to produce units until itís population has started to grow. The easiest way to produce growth in your new town is by sending yet more colonists to the same territory. As soon as the population reaches 700 people, the colony will be allowed to produce military units, and begin to function as a city.


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