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Europa Universalis III Complete (PC) Review

November 1, 2008 | Posted by 411Mania Staff

Europa Universalis III Complete
System – PC
Developer – Paradox Interactive
Publisher – Paradox Interactive

Europa Universalis is touted as a definitive grand strategy game and it is one such series synonymous with the genre. Europa Universalis III has been out since last year, but the newly-released Complete pack, featuring the original game as well as the two downloadable expansions, “Napoleon’s Ambition” and “In Nomine,” just recently hit shelves. This was my first foray into this type of strategy game so let’s see how well I did, and how fast I got slaughtered which, as I anticipated, was exceptionally quick.


Europa Universalis is a very large and in-depth grand strategy game. You have the pick of over 250 nations spanning across the centuries, and you can begin in any time period starting with October 1399. Being that this was my first attempt at a game of this magnitude, I opted to give the tutorials a go first. One problem though, none of them would load! Instead of having some semblance of an idea of what I will be doing, I have to figure it all out on my own. Not a big deal, as I do enjoy a good challenge.

When first loading up single player, you choose who you want to play as and in what year. I opted to play as Castille since they were stronger in most aspects than the other surrounding nations. According to the game, they were one of the easiest to play. After a short load time, you’re ready to go and you now view your territories and armies. Prepare to be greeted by a whole host of buttons, menus and information right from the get-go. I’d recommend thumbing through everything before you click the unpause button. It’s intimidating at first, but you get a clear idea of what everything does after a few minutes.

Some of these menus and buttons allow you to perform various changes to your nations including altering your nation’s form of government, passing new laws and acts, research preferences, advisor hiring, armies, taxes, and so on. You name it, Europa lets you do it. Each change also brings their own advantages and disadvantages to the table, and some are irreversible or take a long time to change back. For instance, cracking down on blasphemers affects social order, but boosts the quality of your nation’s religion, or favoring military progress over diplomacy and culture negatively affects the other two and vice versa as well. Like being a king of your own nation in real life, there is no such thing as an easy decision. You don’t necessarily need to have a clear-cut plan of what you want your nation to be when first starting out, but it certainly helps. Once you have a slight idea of what everything does, it’s time to unpause the game and get rolling. Similar to Sim City, you set the game’s speed from really slow to ultra fast.

Since I don’t play war games to make nice with my fellow man, I set my military research and production to “warp speed Mr. Sulu,” increasing the rate I could train troops and tech up to field more advanced units. Of course, this harshly affected my wallet as well as funding for other tech trees, but I wanted to crush the world underneath my boot! Similar to a plague, I spread across Spain and attacked everything around me, except for my allies, but their time is coming. Whenever someone swung by and gave me the ol’ white flag of surrender which ironically I have yet to receive from the French, I accepted, only to attack them later. This mass then attack strategy worked until someone challenging invaded and ripped me a new butthole. I think it was because I was fielding peasants against cannons.

Researching and acquiring new technologies, something you have to do as quickly as possible, is as simple as changing sliders, but it does take some time to make new discoveries. As for military research, once a unit is available, you have the choice of making it your nation’s preferred unit. During this transition, your current preferred unit, which is simple infantry when you first start, becomes less efficient and takes a morale hit, since military tactics are receiving a makeover. Funding and researching in other areas will of course open doors for new laws, buildings and opportunities.

Attacking, defending and sieging, something you’ll most likely spend all your time doing, is nothing glamorous to watch as all the action takes place on the world map. The only interaction needed from you is moving armies to proper locations and initiating the fight. Once the fight begins, you get to watch two figures, each representing an army, poke each other until one of them dies. Sieging is the same deal except its just one person poking a town. This did get boring after a while, but I’m willing to chalk it up to the fact that I’ve little experience with the way these games are played.

On the topic of sieging, I was a little confused on how to actually succeed. Initiating a siege was simple, but the game didn’t tell you that you had to break off a regiment of troops to handle the siege equipment, so my men sat there with their thumbs up their butt for half a year. Morale plays a big part here as well, and oftentimes your men retreat long before breaching a wall. Like in real life, sieges in Europa take a long time. You’re better off camping the town for a while to break off their food supply until they surrender, or you can wait until a wall is eventually breached and then storm in.

And that’s what you’ll be doing for the remainder of the campaign. You are outlined with some basic objectives and decisions as time goes on and famous world events do occur, but you have the freedom to do whatever you want. You can conquer the world through peace, war and trade. It’s really up to you.

Europa Universalis is all about patience, plotting your moves, and knowing what to do. If you were born and raised on RTS games, the lack of bloody action and fast-paced combat will be a big turn off for you. If you’ve enjoyed games such as Axis and Allies, Risk, the Civilization series, or other strategically in-depth games, than Europa could be for you. It can’t be denied Europa certainly succeeds as a quality grand strategy game.


Let’s be honest here, it’s difficult to make a world map graphically appealing. Europa Universalis is not a graphically intensive game, but that isn’t exactly what this game is about. You do get a 3d view of each colony you select, but they aren’t the best graphics out there. The map itself is 3d and well detailed and that’s all there is too it really.


Not surprisingly, there really isn’t a great deal of sound in Europa. I mean, what can you have besides the obvious clicking noises, music, and battle sound effects? I think they could have done more here though, perhaps adding voiceovers for announcements, tooltips or events. Just something to spice it up a little, but no dice.

Lasting Appeal

One of Europa’s biggest strong points is how much it offers to players and how in-depth everything is. With other 250 different nations and the ability to play through hundreds of years, Europa has immense replayability. No campaign is played the same way twice. You can even play online and battle it out with a few of your friends. The downloadable expansions, while included, add even more to the game. Patches are also released in succession, adding new bits as well.

Fun Factor

While not my particular cup of tea, Europa was enjoyable simply because of the freedom you’re given right from the get-go. For fans of the genre or those who enjoy commanding gigantic armies and running a nation, I can safely say you’ll have a blast playing this. Those who enjoy faster-paced games, I’d suggest looking elsewhere, but you probably knew that already anyway.

The 411

Slow-paced, but in-depth, Europa Universalis III is as good as it gets for grand strategy games. With so much to offer, you’ll be playing for a long time. It’ll be tough to break into if you like games such as Company of Heroes or Command and Conquer, but if you’re looking for a change and something on a much grander scale, Europa should suit the bill well.

Graphics7.0Nothing great to gander at, but superb graphics are not what this game was going for. 
Gameplay9.0In-depth, challenging and engrossing. Europa offers you the freedom to do what you want. 
Sound6.0A lack of sound hurts the game. 
Lasting Appeal9.0With so much to do and so many ways to do it, Europa has immense replayability. 
Fun Factor 8.0While it got old for me after a little while, veterans of the genre will no doubt have a blast. 
Overall8.3   [ Very Good ]  legend

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411Mania Staff
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