For the Glory – PC Game Review
For the Glory. PC Game. Publisher/Developer: Paradox Interactive/AGCEEP $19.95
Passed Inspection: Great graphics, improved interface, challenging AI, great scope. Fine mod.
Failed Basic: Very complex for beginners, interface could still be made simpler, owners of the original may not see enough improvements to be tempted to buy.
For the Glory represents an attempt to capture some of the user-friendliness of Europa Universalis II while improving other aspects of play.
Ambitious games beg for mods and sequels. Paradox’s Europa Universalis series is in its third incarnation with another expansion, Heir to the Throne, released in December 2009. What, then, is For the Glory? Is this a stand-alone add-on or a newer version of the older Europa Universalis II? The answer is that it’s a product that is more than a mega-patch but less than a new game.
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Europa Universalis II, released in 2001, allowed players to control the destiny of one of over 180 countries divided into over 1,000 provinces. Diplomacy, internal affairs, religion, military operations, economics and technology are factors which must be juggled through several maps and screens. The Grand Campaign started in 1419 and ended in 1789; expansions have broadened the timeframe to 1820. Many shorter campaigns are provided. Players can handle their own dynasty within the restrictions of resources, monarch capabilities and historical events. The chance to change history exists but within reasonable parameters.
The sequel, Europa Universalis III, introduced a new interface and several changes in game play. Although the sequel was adored by some, a significant number of players thought the Paradox developers had lost their way, succumbing to the siren call of innovation at the cost of simplicity of interface and clarity of purpose. A large and skilled group of modders stuck with improving the old title and leaving the new product alone.
For the Glory represents an attempt to capture some of the user-friendliness of Europa Universalis II while improving other aspects of play. Maps for culture and revolt-risk give players a fast look at those situations. Small on-map tabs inform players of war status, possible promotions and ways to cut expenditures, among other things. Military uniforms and provincial buildings reflect unique cultures. Other features like improved AI and better events are not so readily apparent but are present.
The game’s Grand Campaign, five shorter historical campaigns and fantasy campaign are still challenges to play. Provinces must be managed to recruit military, improve the economy and maintain order. Armies can be split and reorganized and cities either besieged or assaulted; battles are fought without input from players, with armies retreating suddenly if they wish. Merchants are sent to centers of trade while missionaries go to convert the heathen. Ships and explorers seek out new lands for settlement. Diplomacy? Just click on an icon and a country to bring up the full panoply of actions such as marriage, trade and different alliances. Technological advances are a function of spreading the budget between five areas or pumping up the royal coffers. The game can be paused for orders, but days fly by even on below-normal speed, pushing players to stay on top of many developments. Rulers die and are, hopefully, replaced by skilled leaders. The era expands the focus of conflict from Europe to the rest of the world. France and Britain will fight over Mysore as well as Picardy. Events such as revolts or the Reformation can scrap even the best plans. Victory belongs to the patient and flexible player.
Serious students of history are constitutionally unable to agree among themselves. The longest standing knock against Europa Universalis II was the number, effects and content of historical events. Two groups of modders went to work to reflect history after their own lights. After some disagreements, the two groups combined into Alternative Grand Campaign Event Exchange Project (AGCEEP) to create more events and better graphics, and to allow options to use them. The group has written over 10,000 events. For the Glory not only has more events in the vanilla game but bundles ACGEEP seamlessly through the improved mod selector. ACGEEP adds spice and opportunity to the game. Playing the same country in the default game and a modded game delivers significant differences. Never satisfied, the guys of ACGEEP continue to add events on the Paradox forums.
ACGEEP isn’t the only mod bundled with this product. The nightmare of Europe during the period, the Mongols under Tammerlane, is included as "The Age of Timur." Play focus shifts to the steppes as the dreaded horsemen sweep west. Events and diplomacy make this version very different from the Euro-centric standard games. There’s nothing like simple plunder to make players happy.
Paradox has tried to make this game accessible with a 157-page manual, nine-part tutorial, many on-line hints and helpful tooltips. Yet, the system remains very challenging. Some aspects of the game could have optional AI advisors to help beginners.
Who should buy For the Glory? Gamers comfortable with the original Europa Universalis II and who can install the mods may give it a pass. However, newcomers to the series should enjoy the improved interface and graphics, clever AI and the mods. Gamers who want to see how an older game can be made to sparkle at a reasonable price must see this product as one of the gems among the holiday avalanche.
Armchair General score: 85%
About the Author:
Jim Cobb has been playing board wargames since 1961 and computer wargames since 1982. He has been writing incessantly since 1993 to keep his mind off the drivel he deals with as a bureaucrat. He has published in Wargamers Monthly, Computer Gaming World, Computer Games Magazine, Computer Games Online, CombatSim, Armchair General, Subsim, Strategyzone Online, Wargamer, Gamesquad and Gaming Chronicle.