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101 of 108 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars prides itself on its complexity and detail
A highly detailed medieval strategy game, "Crusader Kings 2" allows players to take the role of a noble in the medieval world and climb the ladder of success by any means necessary.

"Crusader Kings 2" is a game by Paradox Interactive that puts players in the shoes of a European noble during the medieval era. The player can start as anyone from a lowly baron to...
Published on February 28, 2012 by Lisa Shea

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52 of 60 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars More of a Sim game than a statagy game
At first I hated this game. I spent an hour going through the basic tutorial, and tried to play, and was totally lost. I found that one really needs to spend about 3 hours going through the tutorials in order to play.

I was thinking it was more like total war and a strategy game. It's not. It's closer to a sim game.
There are no "win" conditions, and...
Published on May 31, 2012 by Christopher R. Musgrove


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101 of 108 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars prides itself on its complexity and detail, February 28, 2012
This review is from: Crusader Kings II [Download] (Software Download)
A highly detailed medieval strategy game, "Crusader Kings 2" allows players to take the role of a noble in the medieval world and climb the ladder of success by any means necessary.

"Crusader Kings 2" is a game by Paradox Interactive that puts players in the shoes of a European noble during the medieval era. The player can start as anyone from a lowly baron to a king or emperor, but the goal is the same: get as much prestige and money as you can, no matter how you do it. As a ruler, you'll have vassals, courtiers, and advisors who can help you accomplish this, though staying in the good graces of your superiors, your inferiors, AND your neighbors is still no easy task.

Crusader Kings 2 prides itself on its complexity and detail, most notably the in-depth system of feudalism present in the game. This is the core essence of the game's concept: arranged marriages, childbirth, and succession are incredibly important, giving you social links, alliances, potential inheritance, and cause-for-war in the name of claiming one's "rightful land". However, the player must also be mindful of the ambitions of others, not only from other lands but from your own court and family. Characters will scheme, plot, form alliances, and make assassination attempts if it suits them.

Paradox Games is known for making incredibly complex, but also incredibly hard to learn, games. However, CK2 is probably the most accessible game they've made thus far. While it's still certainly complex, CK2 has simplified your means of interacting with the world to make it all a bit more understandable. As a noble, you have a council of five characters, who control your diplomacy, your military, your economy, your religous standing, and your espionage. These five characters can be assigned to different tasks, both domestic and foreign, and serve as your primary means of interacting with the world. Your other main form of interaction comes from diplomacy - arranging marriages, giving gifts, bestowing titles, and other things necessary to keep people happy. Other parts of the game, such as the military and the economy, have basically been made automatic; you can make decisions about them, but for the most part they take care of themselves.

What gives Crusader Kings 2 a lot of its detail and vigor is its character system. Characters possess traits, gained through game events or random events, that define who they are and how they act. Whether they're proud or humble, shy or outgoing, warlike or peaceful, lustful or chaste, all affects how they act as characters and gives the player more of an understanding of what's going on in the game's narrative. While the game tends to throw a lot of characters at you (courtiers, mayors, bishops, etc.), it's still neat to see the development of one of your children, or tutor a courtier's son so that he can grow up to be your marshal, or something along those lines. Of course, you'll have to make hard decisions, too - if a rival family is in a position to usurp your dynasty, you may just have to take them out. These events, and the realism latent in them, help to define CK2 as something more than just a game system.

The only bad parts of CK2 is that, despite the great advancements in gameplay design, the game is still kind of complex to look at. There's so many baronies, duchies, kingdoms, and empires on the game map that it becomes hard to tell who's who, despite the ability to switch between different filters on the map. Similarly, there's so many characters in your court that it can become hard to pick out who's who and manage them all. This is sort of an inevitable problem with the level of detail that CK2 has, though, so it's not necessarily their fault.

Overall, CK2 is a great experience if you're willing to put in the time and the effort. It's not totally hard-to-learn like many other Paradox games, and it offers a lot of detail and gameplay. Definitely worth picking up if you're interested in the period or interested in strategy.

We purchased this game with our own funds to do this review.

Rating: 9/10.
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60 of 63 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic game, February 24, 2012
This review is from: Crusader Kings II [Download] (Software Download)
Crusader Kings II is a must-buy for fans of deep, unscripted gameplay. It puts your in control of a character of your own choosing - from William the Conqueror in the year 1066, to the Holy Roman Emperor at the beginning of the Third Crusade, to a lowly Count in control of a single county. But this is not a real time strategy game, or even a "grand" strategy wargame. Rather, it is a game of dynasties. It is equal parts role-playing, management, and strategy. It is about taking control of a noble house and trying to see it through the ages to greater glory.

For example, I began a game last night where I took on the role of the Duke of Bohemia, a vassal duchy to the Holy Roman Empire, in the year 1066. I have decided that I want to turn Bohemia into an independent kingdom, throw off the yoke of the Holy Roman Emperor, and also take over Poland. In another game, I would probably do this by invading Poland. Here, it turns out that I am married to the Polish King's sister. As such, my wife has a claim to the crown of Poland. Looking at the Polish ruling house's dynasty, it turns out there are few living potential heirs to the crown. Slipping my spymaster into the country, I have been quietly assassinating any potential successors to the crown, so that once the Polish king ... passes ... his kingdom will pass to my wife, and thus to me. The fun is when it all goes hilariously wrong - when you have stunted, ill children, or when your brothers plot to kill you and seize your power, or when your assassins fail ... and more.

Great fun, and highly recommended.
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51 of 55 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Paradox Game Ever, April 11, 2012
By 
Griswel (Rochester, NY) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Crusader Kings II [Download] (Software Download)
First, the downside, which is simple: if what you're looking for is a normal 4x game (eXplore-eXpand-eXploit-eXterminate), where every side might as well be named Alliance or Horde and where you can attack anyone anytime for any reason, move along. CK2 is a Historical game with appropriate limits to everyone's actions, even yours! You must have a just cause for war, and so much of the game revolves around inheriting claims, or fighting infidels (people of another religion) and heretics (people whose faith is almost, but not quite, exactly the same as your religion) who you can attack to your heart's content. Obviously.

If you want to be plopped down at the dawn of modern western culture in Europe, or the late evening of culture in the middle east and Mediterranean, this is your game. Play any Christian lord from Russia to Iceland from any date 1066-1337 (the leet year!) and keep playing until 1453. Start as a count and work your way up to King, or start as King or Emperor and see whether your scheming children kill each other off before someone decent can inherit. Don't put yourself in the same position as the new York Times reviewer (who had to assassinate his son and grandsons to avoid Game Over), though I do recommend playing an Irish Duke (to learn the game) as he did.

This is a wonderfully personal game. You're not a country, you're a specific person. From the day you take over to the day you die there is "you". Then you become another specific person, your heir (be sure to check your prison when you take over, it's very embarrassing to rule for three years as I did when "my" grandson inherited, and only then discover that it is no longer your scheming daughter-in-law who has been in prison that whole time - "Mom! Sorry, my bad"). Groom your heir well and the next "you" will be a well-loved, charitable, honest leader with great stats. Do poorly, or worse yet let your computer-controlled son raise your grandson, and you'll find yourself an inbred kin-slayer who everyone in Chistendom wants to see dead and buried. Which is great, because you'll probably feel the same way.

"My lord, your wife is plotting to kill you!"

"<under breath> Finally! <to wife> Honey, have I mentioned how fat you've become lately?"

This is one of the few games where you're likely look at your own character now and then and say "why won't you just die already?!" CK2 is almost infinitely replayable. You can have a great time in a dozen or more games without leaving Ireland and Iberia. The music is fantastic, the graphics quite good. This is my first Paradox game where I play on the "main" (pretty) map and not some other information-rich but fairly dull map.

Paradox has reached a new level of quality. I have to think that anyone who enjoyed the Europa Universalis or Hearts of Iron series is going to be thrilled with the next iteration. Victoria 2 was miles ahead of the original, and so is CK2 over CK1. But until EU4 or HoI4 comes out, this is the best Paradox game ever. Highly recommended.

A note on versions - all boxed versions and Amazon's download, in fact all downloads other than through Gamersgate are authenticated through Steam. Steam is not required to run the game, just activate it. GG is a separate system which does the same thing, just not through Steam.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This game will ruin your life!!, July 16, 2012
This review is from: Crusader Kings II [Download] (Software Download)
When I close my eyes at night to go to sleep I'm thinking about my current save file in Crusader Kings 2. I toss and turn in bed fretting about the ongoing war with several branches of my dynasty. That thoughtless marriage I made 200 years earlier really came back to bite me in the ass. Not to mention I have a tubercular lesbian heir to my three kingdom empire. Should I imprison and execute my celibate wife? If i remarry I might get that son i've been aiming for. If I wasn't excommunicated for assassinating the previous Pope maybe i'd have been able to get that divorce...
This game stimulates me to the point that I try to limit my exposure to it. It's crazy because the graphics are straight from 1997, and really all you at doing is staring at a map for 7 hours. But that 7 hours is gone in what feels like 15 minutes. Oh yeah this is a good review. Well I'm going to go play, this is taking too long.
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52 of 60 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars More of a Sim game than a statagy game, May 31, 2012
By 
Christopher R. Musgrove (Willow Park, Texas USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Crusader Kings II [Download] (Software Download)
At first I hated this game. I spent an hour going through the basic tutorial, and tried to play, and was totally lost. I found that one really needs to spend about 3 hours going through the tutorials in order to play.

I was thinking it was more like total war and a strategy game. It's not. It's closer to a sim game.
There are no "win" conditions, and there is no real strategy. Once I accepted this I started to like it more.

It's basically about keeping your family line alive and doing well (the definition of well is more subjective than objective) for about 450 years.

It's very complex and you have to be willing to put in at least 3 hours to even have a clue on how to play. After that you can play and do very badly. After about 2 hours of tutorials I played for about 2 hours, and made it about 80 years before I resigned.
I played in Finland. I started as king, got married, kill off a sister who didn't like me, and gave a lot of lands and titles to my cousin Olaf. Started having babies, and found out Olaf really wasn't my cousin. I tried to have him imprisoned, but he didn't want to go for some reason, and instead raised a large army that I gave him, and declared war. I raised an army and eventually lost. While I was losing my children started to hate me and love Olaf (stupid brats). Olaf beat me and threw me in prison. I thought this was the end, but instead I started playing as Olaf, since he was in my family line, gave the cousins (my old children) good tutors grew old and died leaving the kingdom to Olaf's son. At this point I retired.

I guess I learned some history, and many of the characters have in game links that take you to their Wikipedia page.

It's an interesting game. I don't love it, and I definitely need a lot of time to play it. Once you put the 3-5 hours to learn how to play it, it gets more fun.

I recommend this to people who love to read, love history, and have lots of free time. If these don't describe you then think really hard before buying
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Addicting, May 15, 2012
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This review is from: Crusader Kings II [Download] (Software Download)
I watched a few youtube videos for the game and decided to take a chance on it. I have played and enjoyed other Paradox titles including the Hearts of Iron series, the Victoria series, and a few others, including the original Cursader Kings. I liked the original CK, but it was difficult to manage, hard to search, and came with little to no instruction as to how to play. Crusader Kings II fixes those problems.

CKII lets you place yourself in the role of a minor or major noble in Europe between 1066 and about 1350. There are no real objectives in the game, other then to keep your family line alive and gather as much prestige and piety as you can. That's it. Everything else is up to you. There are so many variations to the game, that no game is ever the same. I began as the ruler of Scotland in 1066. In my first game, my ruler died within five years. I played again, and my character reigned for almost 30 years.

If you are on the fence about this game, take my advice and download it. 100+ hours of gameplay later, I still enjoy CKII.
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25 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dark age story generator, March 27, 2012
By 
L. Gamble (Houston, Tx United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Crusader Kings II [Download] (Software Download)
The game play walks you through the life of a dark age noble family. There are so many options and random events, that its a bit like a story generator. You control the choices, but fate can intervene. Spend 15 years training your heir with the best of the best, set your laws so he alone inherits your kingdom (which caused a civil war you put down) and he turns out to be Alexanderian, (gay never sires an heir, dies young in battle). Then the mousey little walflower sister back stabs her older brother, rises to the throne, adds a dutchey and rules for 40 years.

Decide to get a little strange on the side, bam pregnant with a bastard. Now you must deal with the consequences. Should I legitmize the kid for a backup heir? Ship him off to the clergy? Will the mother try to kill the real heir? Do I really have to execute the strange to keep her from plotting murder for the fourth time?

My spiritual advisor has aparently created his own religion. I can back him and reap more of the spirtual tithes the pope gets, but I won't get any papl monetary support and neighbors will have an excuse to claim my land.

Whose this lady in my bedroom with a knife, where the hell is my spymaster he's got some 'plainin to do.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great Concept, But Significant Flaws, August 5, 2012
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This review is from: Crusader Kings II [Download] (Software Download)
I've got to give the creators of this game some props. CK2 is a bold, innovative twist on the 4X genre. The title clearly advances beyond the territory charted by the "Europa Universalis" (EU)series (even if some of these advances are evolutionary rather that revolutionary). This is a solid entry in the strategic simulation genre. However, CK2 is not without its flaws. And, unfortunately, these shortcomings hold CK2 back to the point I have to call it a good game, probably not a very good game, and definitely not a *great* game.

First, the good.
* The attention to historical detail is painstaking. From characters names to geography to personalities, you can tell the game designers did their homework.
* Characters themselves are detailed. The character traits system is more advanced than in the Total War (TW) series. And women are actually people here! This is a major improvement over the TW series, where women had no traits and were basically cookie-cutter mates for the males.
* There are a lot more buildings to construct than in the EU series.
* Alliances and politics are far more developed than in either EU or TW. The intricate webs of dynasties, titles and alliances far surpass any other entry in this genre, and are arguably the best feature this game has. In most 4X games, alliances are a side feature. Here, political balances and relationships with other factions are a core feature.
* The strategic map view has an Old World wood-cut look to it that is breathtaking even though the graphics (in terms of colors, res and detail) are average. The Map also provides a lot more information than the map view in TW did.

The bad.
* There are limitations that chafe at players and are, IMHO, counterproductive. For example, you cannot construct or improve buildings in counties held by your vassals. This is a major frustration to those trying to achieve economic domination. The only way you can build in a province held by a vassal is to imprison and banish the vassal so you have direct control. This incurs rather sizable diplomatic penalties. Seems to me there should be a less destructive way to build your own empire.
* There's not much for your sovereign to do. You can get married. You can invite various types of people to your court. You can hold a feast, a summer fair, and go on a hunt. And that's it. The options never change. And after you've been on a couple hunts, fairs and feasts, you've pretty much seen them all: the same events and choices some up each time. Even as you develop your counties and build more buildings, the options don't change. The first few years are fun, but after that, you definitely get a "been there, done that" feeling. For example, the option may arise for your ruler to have an affair, which is interesting. But you cannot simply click on a pretty lady at court and try to initiate an affair. You are a reactive agent in this game, rarely do you have the chance to be an instigator--a significant letdown.
* While there are more buildings to construct, the graphics for this are all but nonexistent. You don't get to see your city's or castle's architecture improve, like you do when you add or improve structures in TW. Granted that graphics have never been this franchise's selling point, but still...
* The counties themselves are rather cookie-cutter. There are no special resources like in TW that made certain counties more desirable than others. The only variables are coastal/inland and terrain. And terrain doesn't even affect what buildings you can construct. Coastal counties can build Harbors. Inland counties can't. And that's pretty much it.

"It is what it is."
* You can't just declare war on anyone. You have to have cassus belli. This can be hard to obtain. So even if you have three times the military power of your neighbor, you can't just declare war. You can argue (perhaps with some justification) that this makes the game more challenging and difficult to win by force alone. However, it also is an artificial and unrealistic constraint. My philosophy is that the best games don't impose such constraints, but instead impose negative, realistic consequences (i.e., other counties and kingdoms grow wary of rulers that expand by the sword, and tend to form alliances against aggressive expansionists to check these ambitions).
* The system of inheritance most prevalent in the game is gavelkind succession, which ends up scattering your empire to the four winds (all your character's offspring get a piece of the pie). This wouldn't be so bad if you could build in the provinces held by your family, or play each of your family's characters. But you can't...and this undermines the basic premise of the game, which is multigenerational empire building. You can change the succession...if your character lives long enough.
* This is a SLOW game. You will take dozens of game years (or longer) to be able to perceptibly grow your economy and start to expand your empire. If you're used to games where you start building armies and raising Cain in relatively short order, you'll be disappointed.

In short, I recommend this game, but not highly. If you're not heavily into family intrigue and prolonged campaigns, you may wish to wait until this hits the discount bin.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent grand stategy game, April 11, 2012
By 
Keith Penewit (Spokane, WA USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Crusader Kings II [Download] (Software Download)
This game is as good as other Pandora games. If you've played any other Pandora games or the first Crusader Kings, this is very similar. The historical research done on these games is extremely accurate and well researched.

It is amazing to me how well Pandora captures political interests from different time periods. Crusader Kings takes place strictly in Europe, so you cannot play any country in the world like some of their other games. However, there is a multitude of characters you can play, anywhere from a count to a king (or their cultural equivalent).

If you've played the first Crusader Kings, there are some good improvements with this version. First, arranging marriages, which was dreadful in the first game, is still here but they've given you more tools to make decisions. You can arrange potential mates by skill levels, realms, dynasties, rank, potential alliances, etc. This means you will probably spend even more time arranging marriages (at least I do) but at least you can understand what your goals are. I think that, overall, they've increased the difficulty of this game. Going from being a count to having multiple crowns and half of Europe captured is going to be extremely difficult to achieve.

There are several bugs that the old game had that are gone now. One historical inaccuracy that was in the old game I'm not sure about. In the old game, the Golden Horde was given a huge unfair advantage that frankly made it difficult to play the game. I'm not sure if that still exists in this game because I've played all my games so far on the far west side of the map.

A hint to those people who have never played a Pandora game. BEWARE! This game is going to be extremely complicated, detail oriented, and take a long time to play. My first Crusader Kings 2 game took me about 28 hours to complete, and I only made it though six generations before my house line died out. If you've never played a Pandora game before, it will probably take you about 30 hours of playing just to figure out most of the options, and you'll still be missing a few things. If you like your games to take a lot of brain power and patience, this might be the game for you. Think of it more as a chess game with thousands of pieces than an arcade game. It is rewarding, but only if you have the patience and time to do it.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The most in depth Medieval strategy game to date, October 31, 2012
This review is from: Crusader Kings II [Download] (Software Download)
My traitorous cousin sits shackled, rotting in the dungeon. He asks for mercy, but I instead send him to the oubliette. My victorious armies are out on campaign, lead by my militarily savvy brother, and are poised to conquer neighboring territory for the Kingdom. Wedding bells are ringing in the churches of my capital ; my niece has just been married to my son. Yes, its just another regal day in the game of Crusader Kings 2. One of Paradox's latest entries in the grand strategy series, CK2 boasts an enormous amount of options and freedom in player choice, giving you numerous ways to make your mark on medieval Europe.
The core of the game surrounds your control of a Medieval dynasty, and their ascent through the ranks of nobility over multiple generations. With a great deal of historical accuracy put into CK2 (you can even access the Wikipedia pages of historical characters in-game), you can choose from any number of dynasties that reigned during the course of the game's covered history (1066-1453). Not only does this give you the ability to tailor the game experience, but it adds a great deal of replayability .For example, newer players can choose to start as one of many lowly counts, while more experienced armchair monarchs can jump right into the dynastic action as a King.
On it's surface, CK2 is an intimidating game. You may want to brush up on your understanding of the feudal system, and you will definitely be learning a lot of geography from the massive map that spans from western Europe to the fringes of Asia. A distinct lack of tutorials will leave you flustered at first, wondering how you can achieve your goals within the mechanics of the game. It doesn't help that several of the games more useful features are accessed by clicking on obscure buttons.
Thankfully, once you do get a grasp on the fundamentals of the game, it is a truly rewarding experience. It is extremely satisfying when you can use the sandbox nature of the game to its full potential. Marrying into families to gain territory, installing your kinsmen on the thrones of other kingdoms, and forging empires based on your conquests are just a few of the things you can accomplish with a little guile, and the right timing.
Even as a purely single player experience, CK2 is a very strong title. But what makes the game truly entertaining, and downright dripping with potential for those who like to game with friends, is the multiplayer. The multiplayer essentially gives all the freedom of the single player experience, but with a friend, allowing you to go to war together, intermarry families, and generally have a great time taking over Europe. Few multiplayer games offer you the fun that can be had in teaming up with friends in CK2, and it adds to an already staggering amount of options when it comes to starting up a new game.
Crusader Kings 2 is not for everyone. If you hate history, this is going to be a boring game, and for the hardcore FPS fans ; you are probably wandering a little too far out of your genre. However, for the rest of the gamers out there, this is a must have title that is constantly being updated and tweaked by developers, and modded by fans. Whether you're a history buff, or just enjoy highly strategic games with a lot of depth, this one is definitely for you.
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Crusader Kings II [Download]
Crusader Kings II [Download] by Paradox Interactive
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