All Features


  PlayStation 3
  PlayStation 4
  Wii U
  Xbox 360
  Xbox One


Europa Universalis II

Score: 90%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: Strategy First
Developer: Paradox Interactive
Media: CD/1
Players: 1 - 8
Genre: Real-Time Strategy/ Miscellaneous

Graphics & Sound:

Europa Universalis II looks just about identical to the original game, which is unsurprising given the short development cycle of the title. For those of you who didn't play the first Europa Universalis, the game looks like nothing so much as an old-time war map. The territories that you are aware of have a hand-drawn look, and beyond that the world fades into 'Terra Incognita'. Armies are represented by little animated figures, as are fleets. The game isn't particularly pretty, although it certainly gets the job done; you can tell that the developers were more concerned with playability than graphics.

Europa Universalis II has a number of nice period musical pieces. Some of them may seem a little harsh upon first listen, especially the vocals, but once you get into the groove of the game, it fits quite pleasantly. Considering the amount of time you'll probably end up spending with this game, a solid musical soundtrack is just about a must. The game's sound effects are nice enough, although they're few and far between; you'll hear most of the effects during battle. They're nothing spectacular, but neither are they poorly produced.


All right. For all intents and purposes, Europa Universalis II is basically an enhanced version of the original game, rather than a full sequel. With new territories, a number of new commands, and improved game logic, one can understand how at first blush Europa Universalis II looks like a shovelware sequel put out to sate the fans as quickly as possible. Fortunately, in reality the tweaks to the original game make for a more satisfying experience; fans of the first one will want the new experiences provided by this title, and those who have never played either will enjoy Europa Universalis II even more than they would the first one.

The core game is presented as a number of different campaigns. These range from ones based in reality to ones that are purely fantastic. The different sides that you can play are shown at the top, but you can always change to any other country in the game. There are well over a hundred different countries to play as. Unlike most strategy games, where there are only slight differences between the different countries, Europa Universalis II goes the historical route. Play the American Revolution as some small country in Eastern Europe and expect to get nowhere. The difficulty of each campaign is highly dependent on the nation you play as, which makes for a highly adjustable game experience. The Grand Campaign has been expanded in Europa Universalis II to stretch both further back and further forwards in time, making for a longer and more involved play experience.

The world is broken up into many different territories. There are large tracts of land that are unexplorable for historical reasons--central Africa, for example, and parts of the United States. Unlike most RTS games, though, rampant expansion can be just as dangerous as sitting still. Europa Universalis II requires a complex balancing act of expansion and self-defense, along with some savvy diplomatic actions.

For example, if you go to war with a nation without a proper Casus Belli, your nation is going to destabilize. Stability is quite possibly one of the most important statistics in the game; the less stable your nation is, the more likely splinter factions and general turmoil are. Because combat is fairly abstract in Europa Universalis II--there are only three troop types and three ship types, and one ship type is strictly for transport--these sort of minor manipulations with the state of your country can mark the difference between success and failure.

Combine this with a series of sliders that allow you to adjust the general attitude of your country--offensive versus defensive, free trade versus mercantilism, and the like. And combat is by no means the only thing to do in this game. There's a complex trade system that involves merchants at key locations, and an even more complex diplomatic engine. You can have nation-states give you territory as reparations for wartime losses, which is the true way to gain territory from your enemies. There's a bunch of other stuff in this game, such as complex religious interplay and various 'missions' that pop up as you play, giving you a chance to change the course of your country, but this is one of those games that is worth exploring on your own.


The difficulty of Europa Universalis II depends on the side and campaign that you pick. Even then, though, the game itself can be overwhelming. Luckily, Europa Universalis II sports a rather informative in-game tutorial, although it seems to have problems with clipping the last line or two of the current message. Once you get past that minor hurdle, though, the tutorial does a good job of introducing you to most of the game's play mechanics. It's not deep enough to give you a solid handle on them, but at least you're aware of them, and you can proceed to learn as you go about the complexities. Europa Universalis II is definitely one of those titles that you can pick up quickly, but that will resist mastery for a very long time.

Game Mechanics:

Europa Universalis II makes use of a primarily mouse-driven interface, much like most strategy games. To be honest, EU2 plays more like a wargame than a traditional RTS, although there are enough elements of each to make fans of either genre happy. The interface is simple enough to use, although you'll want to get familiar with the speed-up and slow-down controls (especially during the tutorials), unless you like waiting for ten minutes while you build your first fleet. The instruction manual is considerably improved over the one from the original game, and the new mechanics in Europa Universalis II feel more like solid tweaks than radical imbalancing changes. Load times are brisk, and while I experienced a couple of weird crash issues, there have been patches released that most probably fix them; either way, they never occurred when I was in the middle of an important part of the game.

Europa Universalis II is a lot like Europa Universalis; some may say that it is too similar, much like X-COM: Terror From the Deep was an only slightly-altered version of X-COM: UFO Defense. Unlike the X-COM series, though, the changes made in Europa Universalis II are significant enough to cause some serious changes in strategy and the overall gameplay experience. It's basically a matter of losing points for not enough, and then gaining those points back for the tweaks being so interesting. Fans of the original game would be wise to pick this one up to see what some intelligent changes to a game can do to improve the experience, and those who are looking to jump into the series would be wise to start with Europa Universalis II. It's delightfully different from most other strategy games, and it comes highly recommended.

-Sunfall to-Ennien, GameVortex Communications
AKA Phil Bordelon

Minimum System Requirements:

P2 266, 64MB RAM, video card w/ 2MB VRAM, Win9x/Me/2K

Test System:

Athlon 1.1GHz running Win98 SE, 512MB RAM, GeForce 2 GTS w/ 32MB RAM, SoundBlaster Live!, 8x DVD-ROM

Windows Empire of the Ants Windows Europa Universalis

Game Vortex :: PSIllustrated