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The Dark Ages might be drawing to a close, but Europe is still in turmoil. Petty lords vie against beleaguered kings who struggle to assert control over their fragmented realms. The Pope calls for a Crusade to protect the Christians in the Holy Land even as he refuses to relinquish control over the investiture of bishops - and their riches. Now is the time for greatness. Expand your demesne and secure the future of your dynasty. Fill your coffers, appoint vassals, root out traitors and heretics, introduce laws and interact with hundreds of nobles, each with their own agenda.
A good lord will always need friends to support him. But beware, as loyal vassals can quickly turn to bitter rivals, and some might not be as reliable as they seem... Stand ready, and increase your prestige until the world whispers your name in awe. Do you have what it takes to become a Crusader King?
Crusader Kings II explores one of the defining periods in world history in an experience crafted by the masters of Grand Strategy. Medieval Europe is brought to life in this epic game of knights, schemes, and thrones...
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Top Customer Reviews
"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.
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.
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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