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Posted on Oct 9, 2006 in Electronic Games, Front Page Features

Europa Universalis III – Recon (PC)

By Jim Cobb

Subtle Changes

Other changes from the earlier game don’t appear just by looking at the screens and doing some mouse clicks. These changes only come from play and represent much more significant diversions in Europa Universalis play than the obvious changes. Indeed, these changes are so drastic as to suggest the two games have different goals.

Like its predecessor, Europa Universalis III has one campaign game that covers the entire period with several shorter scenarios of different periods and wars. However, players can start the campaign game on any day they choose. The game starts with an accurate global situation on that day; after that, all bets are off. Previously, events, changes in rulers, and advances were scripted to be as historically accurate as possible. Gameplay then was predictable, especially when players opened up text files and “read ahead.” The new game does away with all that. When a ruler dies, succession may not be guaranteed to the heir apparent. A country’s domestic situation may trigger a struggle over the throne which the computer decides based on the situation context. Similarly, events are generated by the game’s context. The straight line approach has been abandoned in favor of a system that takes the game’s state into consideration. This context-sensitive concept also applies to computer-controlled countries. The AI will size the situation up carefully before making an offer.

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Use of a random generator pervades the new game. Generals do not automatically appear but must be recruited and assigned to units. Advisors appear with their historical attributes but will die at random times. Rulers may or may not be like their historical counterparts. Players must have a more flexible plan for winning.

Other changes may have more impact than apparent at first glance. A country must have “The Quest for the New World” in order to begin exploration and colonization. These activities can be carried on in an area another country opened up but sloppy seconds are never optimal. Colonial trade ports are also more difficult to create. Ports can only be established in cities and the more colonies a player has, the slower one will develop into a city.

Military upgrades also have a new twist. Players choose a primary unit type from a list. All upgrades in land or naval technology will be targeted at that unit type, forcing players to make more tactical choices. Victories will create a “military tradition” that will aid in combat but will dissipate over time as men retire or die.

eu3prearmy_s.jpg
The primary unit is selected for Prussia ‘s army.

If these changes are not enough for some players, they can modify everything to their liking. All gameplay elements can be altered by modifying text files. Even the map can be redone with the appropriate software. The world is completely at players’ fingertips.

Europa Universalis III appears to be a gamer’s game instead of a historian’s test tube (a la Europa Universalis II). I recommend gamers to have both versions, one for the historical approach and the other for a more wild and wooly experience. Paradox has once again listened to its customer base and responded favorably.

Minimum Requirements

Windows 2000/XP
Intel Pentium 1.9 GHz or similar
512 Mb RAM
3D video card, with 128 Mb memory
DirectX 9.0 (c) or better

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