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Europa Universalis: Rome

Score: 79%
ESRB: Everyone 10+
Publisher: Paradox Interactive
Developer: Paradox Development
Media: Download/1
Players: 1
Genre: Real-Time Strategy/ Themed/ Simulation

Graphics & Sound:

They say that Rome was not built in a day. I don't know where I am going with this; it is just something they say. It may not have been built in a day, but it will take you several hours. Many, many, hours, that is, in Europa Universalis: Rome. It seems a match made in heaven when you think of a civilization-building game and the rise of the Roman Empire. Sure this could be said about many of Earth's civilizations, but Rome holds a special place in our heart. For me, it is not just about the rise of the empire, but its magnificent crash that brings a certain mystique to the period. It is arguably the basis for western civilization. This is a storied series with many entries, all of which have received better than average reviews.

Though it may not win any awards in visual excellence, it is not the intention, of course; everything you need is cleanly laid out before you. The heads-up display has a common layout that is widely known in the RTS world. Each of the necessary information pages are readily at your fingertips. There is no lack of visual representation for the various resources at your disposal, so everything you need is right there. It is just sans the flashy details.

The music is epic and melodic, with all of the harp string and pan flute you have come to know and love in association with the Roman and Greek periods. But hey, I digress. I would say that everything I need from the sound effects is there. The heart of this game is not to be found in its graphics or sound. The best is yet to come.


Gameplay:

In the beginning, Europa Universalis: Rome was all Greek to me. Luckily, there are several well-done tutorials to get you started. When I say well-done, I mean to say they give you everything you need to navigate and manipulate your interface. They don't bother to explain the whole of the Roman Empire in its entirety. Of course, it wouldn't be much fun if you had no affect on the outcome. Once you have made your way through the tutorial, it is time to step back into history and choose your starting point. You only have a tiny span of hundreds of years to choose for a starting point, as well as several key points in the Roman Empire history. Once you know when you wish to start, you must choose which country you wish to control and grow. The country you choose, coupled with the time period you choose, will affect the difficulty of your choice. I may be tipping my hand here, but I do not know everything about the entire history of the Roman Empire. To help those like me, they have a handy gauge that lets you know how difficult your choice is. The personal touch I like is that the icon for easy is a pacifier.

You know where and you know when, now it is time for you to go forth and grow a nation. This isn't only about the basics of food to eat and troops to raise, there are a ton of political and social aspects to deal with. The aspects of religion and culture play a huge part of the social aspects of this game. Don't get me wrong, there is still the classic motive of a standard 4X real time strategy game, there is just the added complexity these social interactions provide. While in the midst of eXplore, eXpand, eXploit, and eXterminate, you will also need to raise armies, set trade routes, appoint leaders, declare war, make peace, forge alliances, blockade enemy ports, invoke omens, put down insurrections and many other social aspects of a growing society.

Battle is not as interesting as it would be with a standard RTS, but military strategy is less of the point. It is a necessary portion as you will have to grow your interests as a nation, but you don't have to micromanage the actual battles. Remember, there is plenty for you to manage. You are not missing out on that aspect due to the battles. There is a Multiplayer Mode that will allow you to take on others. I was never actually able to finish a game with anyone, which leads me to mention that this is a specialized game that not everyone will feel the same about.


Difficulty:

In a few words, I can sum up the "Difficulty bar" that displays the supposed ease of Europa Universalis: Rome - it lies! This is not an easy game at all. At first, the difficulty came from the learning curve of just being able to keep a nation alive. Then the interfaces for operating your armies made it a little difficult to understand how to wage battle. Overall, the difficulty is that it just isn't easy. It was never meant to be. I do not think, in fact I know, this isn't going to keep anyone from enjoying the game if they are into this level of socio-political simulation. With the pace of the game, the words "Carpe Diem" have never rang more true than now. You will remain fairly busy the entire time. Sit back and you may be playing your fiddle as Rome burns to the ground.

Game Mechanics:

I have never had the opportunity to experience the original games associated with Europa Universalis: Rome. I have, however, taken the opportunity to read up on them. I did so because I had a few areas of the game that caused me to question how a series this long could have so many issues with simple interface issues. Like I said previously, you have everything you need to command your nation. That doesn't mean that it is perfectly clear from there. The biggest thing I had an issue with was commanding armies. I understand that the game isn't about controlling the aspect of battle, but it makes it hard to operate a battle. There are other interfaces that don't feel very polished as well, but I really am not wanting to spend any more time beating up on what was actually a very fun game.

If you are a history buff, this game gives you a veritable plethora of the "What If's" to explore. Whereas, I feel they lacked polish in the battle aspects of the game, I am extremely confident that they have paid very close attention to the political ramifications of choices you make. I felt a large amount of honest "cause and effect" with the choices I made along the way. I never felt that sense of the computer trying to impose some ridiculous predetermined outcome. Nations I crossed, I did battle with, and those that I trusted remained my allies as long as I felt their interests dictated.

This is a very intriguing game to play and educational as well. I found myself quickly reading about the actual history of an event over looking for strategies online. I highly recommend playing this game if you claim to be a fan of RTS, especially if you are a history enthusiast.


-WUMPUSJAGGER, GameVortex Communications
AKA Bryon Lloyd

Minimum System Requirements:



Microsoft Windows XP/2000/Vista, 1.9 Ghz Intel Pen­tium or similar, AMD, 512mb RAM, Direct X 9.0c, 128mb compatible video card & support for Pixelshader 2.0
 

Test System:



Dell XPS DXP061, XP Pro, Intel Core Quad, 2GB Ram, Gforce 8800GTX

Nintendo Wii Speed Racer: The Videogame Nintendo DS Myst DS

 
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