53 of 57 people found the following review helpful
Best Paradox Game Ever,
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.