Europa Universalis III: Complete PC
Published by: Paradox Interactive
Developed by: Paradox Interactive
Release Date: October 17th 2008
Take one of the finest grand strategy games of all time and throw in two expansions, one good and one great, and you have an overall package that's an absolutely cracking bargain. Europa Universalis III was a truly great sequel to Europa Universalis II, which allowed you to guide the nation of your choice from 1453-1789. Even without the addition of the sequels there was enough here to keep you busy for years with limitless replay value. As we've already reviewed Europa Universalis III and given it an excellent 9.1/10 (you can read our review here) this review will concentrate on the two expansions: Napoleon's Ambition and In Nomine.
Europa Universalis III: Napoleon's Ambition
Napoleon's Ambition adds just over thirty years to the timeline in Europa Universalis III as it gives you the ability to play until 1820. This means of course that you'll get to play through the period which featured the rise and fall of Napoleon. Naturally a 'Revolutionary France' scenario has been included, which begins on the 14th July 1789, allowing you to jump right into the thick of the action. Of course the expansion does make some other additions too. Want to play with historical rulers, advisors and leaders with them appearing on historically accurate dates? Well now you can. Trade has been improved. You can auto send merchants to trade centres (a feature Europa Universalis was sorely missing). A trade map mode has been added making it easier to see what goods were offered by each region and the value of each of these goods. Overseas trade has been improved too.
The general interface has been improved and there are additional options to customise your experience such as Free Colonisation, AI Aggressiveness and No Inflation to name but a few. If there was a knock to make against the Napoleon's Ambition expansion it was that aside from the French Revolution and the aforementioned improvements there wasn't anything here that dramatically improved the overall experience. That said it's a solid expansion and one that does add, if only slightly, to the original game.
Europa Universalis III: In Nomine
By far the better of the two expansions is In Nomine which not only adds an additional 54 years to the timeline but also adds a generous amount of content to make Europa Universalis III a better all-round experience. The expanded timeline means you'll experience the end of The Hundred Years' War and the Byzantine Empire. Being able to play a Grand Campaign from 1399 to 1820 is just a tiny portion of what In Nomine is about however. There's a new mission system which throws up challenges for both you and your AI opponents. You're given goals to achieve and achieving them can give you benefits such as prestige. Playing as the Byzantine Empire for instance you could be asked to 'Recover Asia Minor'. These missions really add to the replay value (which was already great) and they give a welcome sense of direction in what is a completely open-ended game.
A whole variety of rebels have been added. Religious zealots, serf uprisings and freedom fighters are just some of the rebels you'll meet. They all have their reasons for attacking too and it's good to see them behaving in a fairly intelligent manner rather than simply being lambs to the slaughter as they are in most strategy titles. You can also stir up trouble by conducting espionage to incite rebellions in enemy states if you wish. Some adjustments to the core game-play have been made. Religious tolerance in your states depends on the decisions you make and this adds an extra layer of complexity to the game which happens to make a lot of sense. The Papacy can now excommunicate rulers and organize crusades against undesirables. Colonies are now easier to manage thanks to some new control options. Having to deal with masses of pirates can be a real pain however. In Nomine really excels as an expansion because it offers intelligent additions to the core Europa Universalis experience and improves what was already there. There are more things than we've mentioned here but suffice to say Europa Universalis III is certainly a richer experience with this expansion.
Europa Universalis III: Complete is a superb overall package that offers one of the finest grand strategy gaming experiences you can currently have on your PC. Europa Universalis III by itself was a great game and the two expansions, particularly In Nomine, only serve to enhance the experience. You could argue the graphics are now looking a little dated but they are good enough for a game of this type. The experience for deaf gamers is good. You can set messages to auto-pause the game now, if you wish. If I had to take issue with anything it would be that the game is still rather complex and the included tutorials aren't as good as they could have been. On the whole though, there's little to fault here and for anyone with an interest in grand strategy games it's a deal that's too good to ignore.