25 May 2012

Feudal backstabbing in all its nepotistic glory

I've become rather unreasonably excited at the prospect of playing a new strategy game set in medieval Europe, Crusader Kings 2. Coming as it does from the games studio that unleashed the well-nigh unplayable Europa Universalis on the world, I should be wary. But by most accounts, CK2 seems to have been put together well, capturing the most enjoyable bits of grand strategy games like Civilisation and adding double helpings of Machiavellian plotting, rank nepotism and a heady mix of back-scratching and back-stabbing. 


It also benefits from a hugely detailed real-world setting, and the dynastic scope means that gameplay is more about securing noble succession and maintaining the bloodline than endless warfare. In fact, the combat element of CK2 seems almost quaint in this day and age, harking back to the rudimentary graphics of Civ2 perhaps. But that's hardly a problem given the depth of potential storytelling and the centuries-long scope of the campaign, which runs from the eve of the Norman conquest in 1066 to the fall of Constantinople in 1453. 

PC Gamer reckoned it was addictive stuff, saying 'I can see myself enjoying the company of CK2 and its incomparable cast of bed-hopping, sibling-slaughtering, rodent-mutiliating characters, for months – maybe years – to come'. And it can't hurt sales that Game of Thrones is the most popular TV programme in the world at the moment - it will surely inspire many gamers to take a spin as the Duke of Apulia or the Holy Roman Emperor Heinrich IV or the multitude of English lords we've read about since we were kids.

I'd attach one of the numerous helpful "let's play" guides posted on Youtube, but while the insights into the technical details of CK2 are useful, the wanton mangling of the pronunciation of nearly all the titles and names would cause me too much grief. Perhaps it's safer just to stick with this basic lesson in statecraft that all new rulers would do well to consider - sometimes it's easier just to ask nicely.



See also:
CK2 Seven Deadly Sins (Amusing game promo videos): Wroth (above), Greed, Lust, Envy, Pride, Sloth, and they left out Gluttony, so here's Mr Creosote.
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