Developer: Paradox Plaza
Publisher: Strategy First
EU official page: http://www.europa-universalis.com
Open mouth, insert foot
As a critic and reviewer, it is my job to venture an opinion on something - anything. I have to comment on this, critique that, and praise something else. As such, the phrase 'open mouth, insert foot' comes into use quite a few times. Errors, omissions and even differences of opinion get hotly contested in email and message boards. By far the most controversial debates rage over editorials --like, say, oh... what happened to turn based games?
In that article one of my major lamentations is that strategy gaming has suffered a severe loss of depth in the move to real time.
Choose yer poison
Austria sounds ok
No sooner do I say that, and already I start becoming a connoiseur of socks, stinky feet and shoe materials. Case in point? Europa Universalis. Europa Universalis is easily the only true real-time strategy game. Unlike WarCraft, C&C or Total Annihilation, Europa Universalis doesn't bother itself with niggling details like battlefield tactics or resource harvesting. No, EU is about true strategy - looking at the grand scope of things.
How grand a scope? How about three hundred years - those three remarkable centuries between the discovery of America (1492) and the rise of Napoleon (1792.) Historically, Europe in 1492 was weak and divided. If an alien set down on the world and looked for which country was most likely to develop into a world leader, he would probably go to China, perhaps India or the Ottoman Empire. Certainly not the fragile collection of states just recovering from a dark age that lasted almost a millenium.
On your marks, get set... go!
The 'normal' view of Europe, albeit zoomed out
Between 1492 and 1792, Europe saw the rise and fall of the Ottoman Empire, the gradual collapse of the Catholic Church's authority, the rise of Protestantism, the Thirty Years' War, the establishment of western Europe, not eastern or central, as the base of power. France rose and finished off the Hundred Years' War with England when it finally captured Calais, then united itself under a strong monarchy - just as the Holy Roman Empire was falling and the German states (in general) were becoming more and more fragmented. Russia had not only thrown off its Mongolian shackles, it conquered the Mongol lands - spreading far East across Siberia, reaching the Pacific. Poland drove off its Teutonic oppressors in the decades preceding 1492, rose up to become Europe's most militarily powerful nation (defending Vienna from the Turks in the 17th century) before collapsing internally and being annexed by Prussia, Austria and Russia. The Austrian Habsburgs married into rulership of Spain and for a while were the most powerful dynasty in Europe, before Spain began its decline - which was somewhat offset by Austria's rise. England rose from a weak island nation to the world's largest colonial power, destroying the Spanish Armada in the process.
That is the situation that you, a new ruler, are thrust into. Three hundred years of rule in one nation during Europe's most tumultuos period.