Europa Universalis: Divine Wind Author: T_H_Schafer -- Posted: 2010-12-26
No other RTS really holds a candle to the kind of authenticity offered in Europa Universalis. You can pick literally any nation from 1399 to 1820 to play as. The map of the world is all historically accurate to a degree, something that isn't offered in any other game of this scale. It has a 'pick Russia in 1520 and prepare to be at war with Lithuania, Poland, and Kazan' level of detail.
With all this history and complexity, Europa still manages to be approachable. There is certainly an adjustment period as the game plays out differently than most RTS's. You won't find defined goals exactly. The game plays out much more organically. After picking a nation, the direction you want to take it in is really up to you, just like in real life. Whether or not you want to be a cruel militaristic tyrant and stomp out your neighboring nation states like so many cigarette butts, you can. If you want to build up your trade and become a kind of trade guru with all the other peoples of the world cowering before your mighty trading machismo, you can. If you want to try and convert the globe to your religion, you can try. I'm not certain how successful you'll be in these conquests, but Europa Universalis certainly allows for all of it.
The level of complexity ups the reward for completing goals when you're the one in control. In order to truly begin exploring the world, or going to war, you'll need your population backing you. You do this by increasing technologies over time with sliders. You can choose to focus on government or land and thereby unlock certain national ideas which allow for new abilities, like the ability to explore the globe and colonize foreign lands. There is a process in Europa that is subtle, you'll need to take your time to get your nation on the tracks, and before that you'll need to put some tracks down, and before that you'll have to think about which direction you want those tracks to lead and who'll build them.
Divine Wind offers some new features to the Europa formula including revamped graphics and a focus on the eastern nations of China and Japan. There is also a greater level of detail in the trade and diplomacy mechanisms in the game with more options for alliances and more control over resource management. On top of that they've introduced achievements that go a long way in giving players some concrete goals that they can strive to fulfill.
To sum up Europa Universalis III: Divine Wind, I'd say that it is a game you have to experience slowly to really enjoy. It isn't like other games of its genre and the rewards come in learning with it, spending time looking at your nation's resources, military spending, and which government method to employ. There is a wealth of knowledge here in the historical accuracy; one that doesn't overbear the player but instead draws the player in. Once you get a grasp of how to progress and complete your goals it's hard to put the game down. It almost even feels healthy playing it, like reading a good book or playing a flash game while you sit in the back of history class. It's like you don't feel terrible for playing a game, because you are in class. You may not be actually learning, but something must be seeping in simply because you are present there. And you're having fun with a game. So yeah, it's pretty much like that.