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Publisher: Paradox Interactive
Developer: Paradox Interactive
Minimum requirements: 1.9 GHz Intel Pentium 4 or AMD Athlon processor or equivalent; 512 MB RAM; 128 MB video card with Hardware T&L and support for Pixelshader 2.0 or better; 1 GB of free hard drive space; DirectX 9.0c; Windows 2K/XP
Genre: Real Time Strategy
Release date: Available now
Review by: Jason Pitruzzello
When Europa Universalis 3 was released in January 2007, it was the kind of title that had fans of the franchise playing the game until they succumbed to Video Game Poisoning. It also sparked lengthy debates and flame wars of the more civil variety in the community forum as controversy surged around the lack of historical events and the new context-sensitive events. While the Europa Universalis franchise, and most Paradox Interactive titles in general, have never been the equal of franchises such as Age of Empires in terms of sales, they have always been well received critically and have their own loyal fans who decry parts of the game that they don’t like even as they continue to play the game year after year with addictive zeal. Thus, when it was announced in May that there would be an expansion to EU3, you could almost hear the salivating in various posts in the EU3 forum.
True to most speculation from even before the official announcement, Napoleon’s Ambition expands EU3 beyond the time frame of the American Revolution and drags all those monarchies and merchant republics you have come to know and love kicking and screaming into the era of the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars. Given the game’s initial time span from the Fall of Constantinople to the end of the American Revolution, the adding of just a few short decades of gameplay would seem to be barely worth the time of installing the game; however, to say that this expansion is merely about expanding the time frame of the game is to miss the most obvious asset of this expansion: options, options and still more options.
After installing the game and starting up a scenario, the first change you’ll encounter is the options tab for the game. Instead of merely selecting the difficulty, Paradox chose to include a multitude of options that can be changed with but a click of your mouse. Do you want historical monarchs, but random leaders and advisors? No problem. Tired of explorations spreading too quickly? Two clicks of the mouse and now discoveries take a century to spread. Want to play a quick and dirty game in terms of colonization? Just set colonists to 1,000 population and make them free. Do you wish the AI was less suicidal in its wars? Simply turn down the AI’s aggressiveness. Is out of control inflation making life difficult? Turn it off. There are literally hundreds of permutations to the scenario options just waiting to be explored, and I can’t imagine any player resisting the urge to tweak a few before cranking up their first game.
Even better, the options don’t stop once you enter the game and begin playing. The first of these choices is the autosend system for merchants. Despite the rather quirky AI that drove the autosend system for merchants in EU2, it was one of the features that was most missed by many players in EU3 because of the tediousness of manually sending hundreds of merchants over the course of a few centuries. Now, autosend is back, except this time it’s fully customizable. Rather than clicking the autosend button and turning over complete control of your merchants to the AI, instead you set parameters for how your merchants are to behave. You can prioritize the centers of trade to which they’re sent, and even prohibit your merchants from being sent to certain centers of trade. The result of this is a system of autosending your merchants that closely matches how you’d be sending them if you did it manually, making this the feature most likely to reduce wear and tear on your mouse.
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