Review by AlCurtis
"Better than Total War? HAH!"
Europa Universalis 3 is one of the most overrated strategy games of all time. Far and wide you'll hear idiots preaching that this game it far more strategic than Total War or is far more realistic.
Rubbish. This game is one of the worst gaming experiences I have ever had in my life and not only is it unrealistic and frustrating but it's also a crashing bore and you spend hours and hours accomplishing nothing.
EU3 is a grand strategy game in its purest form, it allows you to take control of one of hundreds of nations around the world, from well known super powers such as France and English to tiny little nations such as Savoy or even minor factions that couldn't even be considered nations such as the Knights of Saint John or even the Aztecs over in the new world
As one of these nations you control almost every aspect of your empire. You construct buildings, train troops, decide on you government's policy, such how offensively minded your nation is, what your tolerance to other religions is, whenever you focus on quality or quantity in your armies and many other options control by sliders. You can also choose a national idea now and then, which do everything from improve trading skill to improving the morale of your armies, decrease religious unrest, make it easier to colonize discovered lands and other benefits. You can also choose what you want your government to be, so you can go from a monarchy to a constitutional monarchy or even something like a merchant republic if you run your nation the right way to make that option open.
One thing EU3 gets right is diplomacy. If you are a player of the Total War series of games you'll know how lousy their diplomacy is. Eu3 does away with that and alliances work in a much more reasltic manner. Allies will stay with you unless you do something stupid that has no benefit to them; such as invading a huge catholic country when you are catholic. The other nation must see a way they can benefit from the war before the will stay with you, but they are much more likely to stay with you if you are attacked in a defensive war. There are many other options such as royal marriages, gift sending, trade agreements and even vassalization.
When at war you also are give a war score percentage depending on who is winning and by how much. This score affects what you can get out of the other nation in return for peace. So if you have a 10% war score, which you would get after a minor beating, such as taking a region and defeating the nation's armies a few times you could coax them into giving you a province or forcing them to release the nations that they occupy. Say you fight the Ottomans and get them to release Greece as part of a peace deal. Greece will then be released from the Ottoman occupation and become an independent faction on the map, able to be reasoned with in diplomacy and otherwise treated as a normal nation. You could also just force them to hand over money or to stop their vassalization of another country.
If on the other hand you attack a small nation like Naples and take over all their territory, occupying it you can get a 100% warscore and force them to have you annex their entire nation or become your vassal. A vassal is very useful as they are forced to fight with you in war no matter what, so you can collect a whole lot of vassals and then when you start a war you'll have a great deal of backup.
War in EU3 means alot more than it does in most other games. To declare war in EU3 you need a reason or a Casus Belli. You can't just play as France and start invading the HRE for no good reason without serious repercussions.
In EU3 your nation's stability or loyalty is expressed as a number either -3 to +3. The lower it is the higher revolt chances are in your provinces. Declaring war without a cause against somebody of your religion instantly gives you -3 stability, making it much more likely you will face revolts. It also increases Badboy which will be discussed later.
A CB can be obtained in a few ways, such as using spies to fabricate false claims against the nation you want war against, or by using a royal marriage between you and the country as an excuse to claim their throne as your own and thus start a war. CBs can also be received when another nation does something like refuses to stay allied with you when a war starts.
The fact you need a CB to start a war makes things much more deliberate and thoughtful than in most wargames, since starting a war will weaken your own land and will also draw the ire of whoever you enemy is allied with.
And you should be scared of alliances in EU3, as the AI is smart and won't hesitate to throw everything they can spare at you if you declare war on them or an ally. I remember when I first started playing EU3 I was Venice and being used to the AI in Total War and not expecting the AI to be smart enough to help; them I declared war on Cyprus who was helpless with a tiny army and who had France as an ally. Almost instantly France was all over me with thousands of troops and the campaign was over before it even started. The AI in EU3 takes things seriously and if you are used to Total War style diplomacy you will be up for a rude awakening.
Combat in EU3 is entirely different to the Total War series as its simply number crunching and takes place on the map. When you engage an enemy army the battle is decided though troop number, morale and the commanding general's skills. Morale is the overriding factor in EU3's battles and a huge army with no morale will lose to a small high morale force, unless the smaller force is hugely outnumbered.
And this is where the games first failing is. Combat in eu3 is skilless and random. You see ridiculous battles where you'll attack with a superior force and spend a few attack rounds taking repeated 400+ causalities, before dishing out some random number back, like 17, then taking, say 8, then suddenly hammering the enemy for 600 a pop. It's based on randomness and dice rolls: you can see the number you rolled in the battle screen and it affects everything in the battle. EU3's randomness removes all tactics and skill from battle and makes them little more than random chance games. It is not fun sat all to lose an entire army because you randomly got a bad roll. The battle system sticks out as one of the worst ways to decide battles I have ever seen in a game for a long time and makes wars an utterly frustrating bore. You are simply a passive observe rolling dice. Fun? Nope.
The other massive game ruining flaw with EU3 is it has far, far too many rebellions and the like. Every single year if you conquer anything or declare war, or get some bad event that lowers your stability you will get 10,000 troop rebel armies. This happens again and again and again, sometimes for no reason at all. Even if you have owned a province for a long time and convert the pupation to your religion, the population will hate you and if you do so much as blink you will get another rebel army you're forced to go and kill. It is the polar opposite of fun fighting the same armies every ten minutes and having to station massive armies in your home provinces in case an army pops up from nowhere.
Rebellions aren't even realistic. Say you are Castile and you declare war on Portugal or Cyprus or anywhere small and easy to fight. Your nation will instantly get 20,000 troop rebel armies if you didn't have a Casus Belli. If and when you sue for peace and annex your enemies land they will rebel over and over and over. Sure it might be realistic that you'll get partisan action but not biannual 10,000 cavalry 4,000 infantry armies popping up. Even if you play as a tiny faction, like say the Knights of Saint John. I declared war on Cyprus and BOOM my tiny population army spawns 3,000 rebels and I lose. The game tries its hardest to make you hate it and avoid war and just generally piss you off by making you fight the same darn rebels every year.
The stability system is also horrible. What nation in real life is going to go crazy and start fighting their rulers when they declare war on anyone, even the tiniest nations? I'd love to know how Napoleon fared when France spawned 50,000 rebels when he started conquering Europe. The rebellions take all the fun out of the game and walls you in completely, giving you no freedom to do what you like and just unrealistically punishes you when it feels like it
Another horrendous idea is Badboy. Badboy is a measure of your nation's reputation and how other nations feel about you. If you do aggressive things like star a war, annex territory, claim a throne or the like you increase your badboy. When badboy gets high nations start being mean and aggressive towards you for no good reason. They will break trade or embargo you, break alliances or simply start a war with you. This feels entirely artificial. It's not like the coalition against France in the Napoleonic wars, but more like totally artificial attempts to curb your growth. You will get ridiculous things, like huge nations attacking you that you might not even have had involvement with, other nations you aren't aggressive towards breaking off trade agreements no matter how lucrative they might be, smaller nations breaking alliances and generally every nation in Europe scrwwing you over their own way the second you start actually winning.
It's not like you need much badboy for these things to happen either. Annex a small island nation and bam your about halfway to every nation in the world senselessly hating you since you are obviously a insane, conquering freak that must be crushed for the good of the world, no matter how big or small your nation might be. There is no leeway for tiny nations trying to get on a more even footing: if your big or small badboy will ramp up the same.. This makes EU3 ridiculously frustrating and largely impossible to do anything in, since you are punished for winning and will suffer even more rebellions.
EU3 is a lousy game. It punishes you for doing anything, has extremely gamey features like badboy and is just plain crap. Even fans of the game say its rubbish without mods but guess what? Good mods don't excuse the base game from being ****.
Which is exactly what this game is.
Reviewer's Score: 4/10 | Originally Posted: 10/26/09
Game Release: Europa Universalis III (AU, 02/24/07)
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