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Victoria II with A House Divided and Heart of Darkness gets a Tacticular Cancer Review

Victoria II with A House Divided and Heart of Darkness gets a Tacticular Cancer Review

Review - posted by Trash on Tue 28 May 2013, 13:56:07

Tags: A House Divided; Heart of Darkness; Paradox Interactive; Victoria II

We put new staff member Absalom in the shoes of a budding capitalist and let him loose to see what he would do. Turns out he went on a railroad building spree and forgot all about importing coal. Yes, indeed, it was about time we paid some attention to Paradox Interactive's industrialisation sim Victoria II. Especially now that it's all patched up and has recieved two mayor DLC expansions with A House Divided and Heart of Darkness. Check out his comprehensive review.

For in Victoria II the primary force is Industrialization. Railroads are needed to transport goods. Factories are needed to produce on a scale heretofore unknown to man. The people need to be educated in order to best use these new goods and to participate productively in government. Not only are the methods different, so are the means. While you can construct individual rail roads and factories, it is much better to foster Capitalists to develop the land themselves. You don't simply hire more clergy, you make it a focus of the nation to recruit more clergy from X province. Tabs portraying your Nation in diplomacy, trade, military, production, population and the various ways you manipulate the Nation are the primary means of interacting with the game. Thus, you control your nation, less a Absolute Monarch as in previous Paradox titles and more a national zeitgeist.​

Read the full article: Victoria II with A House Divided and Heart of Darkness gets a Tacticular Cancer Review



A comprehensive review of the state of Victoria II now that it's been out for awhile and recieved patching and the “A House Divided” and “Heart of Darkness” DLC's.

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If you squint really hard you can see a crying Martin Sheen.

Pretty good if you're into that sort of thing.
Victoria 2 is a grand strategy video game by Paradox which is appropriately set in the Victorian age. The game manages to convey the atmosphere of the age quite well, with fittingly pompous regal music, a decidedly Victorian art style and lots of period flavor text. As a game, I found it to be incredible intuitive while simultaneously quite challenging. By contrast, the two DLC's are a bit underwhelming in their content and the way wars are fought is terribly clunky. Although a few features did mar it somewhat, I quite enjoyed the overall experience.

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Newspapers, a new feature introduced in the Heart of Darkness DLC, are a fun little diversion. However, they do tend to get samey after a while.

Imperialism in the Victorian Age
Paradox's own series of Grand Strategy games span from the Battle of Hastings, fighting the Sengoku Jidai to The Second World War. In each game, the only goal given is to become top dog. What differs is the means in which you achieve it. Victoria II is all about juggling competing ideologies, managing the burgeoning industrialization, and occasionally going to war with modern weapons.

For in Victoria II the primary force is Industrialization. Railroads are needed to transport goods. Factories are needed to produce on a scale heretofore unknown to man. The people need to be educated in order to best use these new goods and to participate productively in government. Not only are the methods different, so are the means. While you can construct individual rail roads and factories, it is much better to foster Capitalists to develop the land themselves. You don't simply hire more clergy, you make it a focus of the nation to recruit more clergy from X province. Tabs portraying your Nation in diplomacy, trade, military, production, population and the various ways you manipulate the Nation are the primary means of interacting with the game. Thus, you control your nation, less a Absolute Monarch as in previous Paradox titles and more a national zeitgeist.

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War Plans are another good idea, though their use is limited. It would improve LP's, and could possibly benefit multiplayer.

Easy to learn, hard to master
From the start up screen where you select the nation you wish to play as, it is very clear what you are getting into. The nations are all ranked according their tostanding in three categories: Industrial might, military might, and prestige. The Chinese Empire for instance is changed from the original to a main state ruling a bunch of sub states in "A House Divided" When I started a new game as them, I was able to take ten minutes and find out most of the info I needed to know to plan my strategy by carefully mousing over various GUI fields. The GUI is extremely intuitive, displaying all modifiers and relevant information quickly and cleanly. While the game looks complicated, with the tasks of managing population and trade policy, it allows you to carefully select nearly anything and learn about the associated benefits and consequences of any action. As such, I found it very easy to get into the game.

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Ah, so that's how you recruit more clergy!

War is hell (to manage)
One field where everything was NOT user friendly were the military operations. I grew to fear declarations of war for the thought that I would have to manage my 100+ brigades. There were options to set “rallying points” up to a maximum support limit but for the most part I really didn't want to bother. On the other hand, without war you would be spending most of the game waiting for something to happen while fiddling with sliders.

Another thing I found strange were the DLC'S. The big selling point of the "A House Divided" one is adding a new start date for new games for the American Civil War as well as new events pertaining to said war. But in a game with abstracted battles, what is really the point? The “The Heart of Darkness” has a few features like the newspapers and crises mechanics that look great on paper but don't really come together that well in the game. The newspapers tend to get samey fast and the crises usually peter out as the AI is more than willing to find a peacefull solution. The DLC's feel more like glorified patches than genuine expansions, as most of their content consists of updated features. I would recommend any new player to wait until they can get all of these in a bundle pack, instead of paying for them separately.

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Crises, another new feature introduced in the Heart of Darkness DLC, are intended to simulate "Great War" scenarios. However the AI is usually quite willing to broker peaceful solutions, at least early on. Later on, as militancy grows ever more predominate, this could change but it is generally up to the player to engineer such wars.

So is it a good game?
Victoria II has its flaws, but overall it is still very much an enjoyable game. I was drawn into managing an 19th century nation easily by it's atmosphere and intuitive interface. Occasionally there were hiccups in how you would wage war and some of the features didn't gel together that well. The game is however much greater than the sum of its parts. The rise of industrialisation and colonisation. The rising tensions between the new ideologies and the Great Powers all playing their own Great Game made this game for me. I would however definitely recommend looking into mods over the available DLC. Most likely if you are interested in the specific kind of strategy Paradox Interactive offers, you already have played their games and know what to expect as they are the only ones making these. Another Great Strategy game of excellent quality.​

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