Late to the Party – Crusader Kings II

31 Jul

Crusdaer Kings 2 Logo

First off, this is not a review of this game, I have not played it nearly enough for me to feel I could confidently review it, this is me reacting to the game. I purchased Crusader Kings II a good long while ago on a random steam sale. In my impressive backlog of games I need to still play, it was one of many that I had heard was worth a look. When I first attempted to play it the bizarre UI and the broken Tutorials turned me off fast, I had a lot of other games to work through and I just wasn’t quite dedicated enough to it to work through it at the time and uninstalled it.

But then out of no where people started talking about it again. First Brad Muir of double fine, mentioned it as an inspiration for his upcoming game Massive Chalice, then I read the excellent articles of Rich McCormick at PC gamer, detailing his exploits as Ned Stark in CKII’s Game of Thrones Mod, which looks amazing by the way.

Between these two I decided to give CKII another chance and fight through it now that I have a bit more time on my hands and I am so glad I did. Crusader Kings 2, is a grand strategy game with a level of depth that blows my mind. There are so many systems running together and so much happening at any one time that it is easy to be over taxed at times and the down time in the game is a bit painful as you can go in game months without events happening. But the gameplay that happens in between this, managing your vassals, organizing your family, setting up espionage to further for family line is so engaging and the way it sets up storyline as it occurs is so well done that this game sucks you in ways that the more combat focused total war series has thus far failed to do. The most important praise I can give the game is that it lays out the diplomacy for you in a way that is as detailed as you want it to be. As I griped about in my Civ 5: BNW review, grand strategy games on the whole struggle to make diplomacy make any sense. CKII’s system of values and the way that it is show to you in detailed tool tips, not only shows you the present state of affairs of nearly every character in the game world, but the level of detail that it uses allows you to make predictions about each character’s future actions.

For example, you are the king of a petty kingdom in Ireland. You are two brothers who technically could lay claim to your throne. One of your brothers is ambitious always striving to improve his lot and life and climb to the top of the world, the other brother just wants to be an adviser on your council. Which one of your brothers should you give a castle and the army that comes with it? This type of information and the way it interacts with the game is brilliant and makes CKII a dream to play in spite of the fact that it’s combat system is extremely lackluster. The game is managing the dynasty, much more than managing the armies and it is so far a refreshing take on the grand strategy.

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