Seven years after the first Victoria: An Empire Under the Sun (Viky for friends), the guys from Paradox Interactive bring on our monitors the second iteration of a series not as lucky as the most famous exponent of the family: the most appreciated (by the press and paying public) Europa Universalis. Unlike the latter, Victoria was characterized by placing relatively in the background both the war aspect - an aspect decidedly deepened and dissected in the Hearts of Iron series - as well as that relating to exploration and colonization, in order to concentrate on the management of economy and internal politics of your country. Victoria II he could only follow in the footsteps of the first chapter, setting himself the difficult goal of making the game mechanics more immediate and accessible and, at the same time, deep and refined. A kind of philosopher's stone for all strategy games.
Protagonists of History
Victoria II it will allow to lead any nation of the terraqueo globe from 1836 until the beginning of the Second World War. In what at first glance - and wrongly - might seem an all too short period of time, the player will be able to relive the years of the industrial revolution and lead his people through a period of intense and decisive changes.
Whether in command of a super power like Spain or England, or of a seemingly less ambitious state like that of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany, we should relive the passing of the days to better manage the subtle and unstable balance between economy, diplomacy and growth. technological and cultural heritage of your country. Having the necessary experience to be able to master a XNUMXth century colonial empire is certainly not a trivial matter, even for the most accustomed players to the genre. Yet, the impressive number of nations made available at the beginning of each new game will allow, at least the most willing players, to immerse themselves in the intricate system of balances in a gradual and, above all, targeted way. By taking command of a satellite kingdom of any of the eight world powers, for example, we can be relatively less interested in defending our own borders, allowing us instead to better dissect the internal production chain, perhaps experimenting with the socialist approach and comparing it to the capitalist one.
The complexity of the play system prepared by the Swedish development group is so great that each of the different macro play areas needs careful and accurate planning, leaving very little room for pure improvisation. Following in the footsteps of their predecessors, Victoria II even before being a video game it is a real historical-political simulator and as such it must be approached to be enjoyed to the fullest.
Climbing with dangerous pindaric comparisons and trespassing on other genres, we could say that the Victoria series is to that of Total War as the Football Manager series is to PES (that of the golden times, of course). Even just a "simple" act, at least in a video game, such as declaring war on a remote kingdom in the middle of Central Asia could lead to the annihilation of our country. In fact, it will not be enough to pay extreme attention to the diplomatic relations established by the aforementioned state but, for example, after only a few months we could find ourselves having to face the revolts of our citizens or, even worse, the declarations of war launched by our neighboring countries, alerted from our dangerous predisposition to armed conquest, and aimed at the containment of our expansionist aims. This is just one of the countless examples that can be called into question to show the greatness of this title and which, at the same time, highlight the intrinsic limitations of a game system that hardly lends itself to short and carefree gaming sessions. In order to mitigate this problem, however, the developers have made an effort to try to offer an experience that is at least more accessible. From this point of view, one of the most evident improvements concerns the management of events and the way in which they are notified to the user. Finally we should no longer have to extricate ourselves from dozens and dozens of event notifications (most of the time useless) able to saturate our already limited cognitive abilities in a few minutes. All this brings up the messages in the tray bars that have already been present for some time in the Windows operating system: each type of event corresponds to a row of small flags that represent an event for the corresponding nation. We have the possibility to view the details or to ignore them nicely. The thing is easier to do than to say and, above all, it manages to make the gaming experience more fluid and less fragmented.
Esthetically Victoria II gives very little to its players and, indeed, does everything to look like a game of the last century. From this point of view, the developers' habit is surprising in offering us, once the farthest zoom level has been selected, a visualization of the game map that recalls the paper ones of the early 900s and which, from time to time, will be 're-proposed in the loading screen of the last saved game to show the game situation.
Even on the sound side things do not change, quite the contrary. While not expecting a Jeremy Soul production, we would have appreciated the possibility of creating custom playlists from our digital libraries. As of this writing, the latest version of the game is 1.1. Occasionally, we happened to run into some bugs. Nothing to stop you from finishing a game but, of course, enough to potentially ruin hours of sweaty (and well-earned!) Fun. Fortunately, the developers already have a new patch in the pipeline and, above all, they once again prove to be attentive to the needs of their users. One of the secrets of this great little software house.
It is said that Fredrik Wester - CEO of Paradox, after losing a bet with the lead designer of Victoria II, had to shave off his thick Viking hair. In fact, he himself did not think that today's public was ready for such an extreme and vertical strategy: the first sales figures proved him wrong. Indeed, the quality and care placed in the title cannot be argued, the only discriminating factor that separates you from its purchase lies in the commitment that you are willing to pour to be able to better master the game mechanics. Close to those of well-established series such as Civilization or Total War but extremely less showy.
Still, it is a commitment that will be richly repaid.
- Deep and well-kept
- Complex but not complicated interface
- Able to give unique satisfactions ...
- ... but requiring immense patience and discipline from the player
- Audio / Graphically well below sufficiency
PC System Requirements
- Processor: AMD Athlon64 X2 4200+
- RAM: 4 GB
- Video Card: ATI HD4850 512MB
- Processor: Intel Pentium 4 2.4 GHz or AMD 3500+
- Video card: NVIDIA GeForce 8800 or ATI Radeon X1900
- RAM: 2 GB
- Disk space: 2 GB
- DirectX 9.0c compatible sound card