All Pass Priority reviews, such as one about at Crusader Kings II: An Unbiased Review, explore the emotive aspects of the work rather than offering a critical analysis. We hope you can use our reviews to gauge how it feels rather than how it works technically or objectively.
By Steve McCullough on
Supported by: PC, Mac, Linux
The first thing you may have noticed about this is that it has a 5 star rating. "What??" You exclaim in disbelief. "This is your first review! How will we judge your generosity if the first thing you rate is 5 stars?" Well, dear internet citizen, this is the game that I will hereby judge all other games that I review on… that fall under the strategy banner.
Crusader Kings II must have made some poor soul sweat buckets while preparing their elevator speech. Or it would have if said soul didn't work for Paradox Interactive. Most, if not all, AAA game publishers would have heard its synopsis, and then laughed before pouring themselves another shot of brandy or whatever it is rich publishers do. Not Paradox though. Oh, no. They poured themselves mulled wine (the unpoisoned variety, more on that later) and began making a game that cannot be won. No, seriously. There's a point system but there really is no clear cut way to win. You can, however, lose.
But the inability to truly win is one of the reasons CK2 is just so good. Each and every player, on each and every play through, will have different goals to achieve and a different way to achieve them.
The crux of the game is that you play as a single character from a historical dynasty in Europe or the Middle East. You must survive, passing on your legacy to your descendants until the mid-15th century, at which point the game ends. Most games take places over some 600 years. There is no "point" to this game, other than to have fun in whatever way you want to. Want to conquer the known world? It's yours for the taking! Want to work your way up through a merchant republic, murdering those who get in your way? Serve some poisoned wine! Want to have 4 wives and 30 kids? Hey no judgement, go for it! The flexibility and incredibly non-linear way in which this game works make its re-playability worth 5 stars just by itself. There simply is no way to make any two play-throughs the same. It's not possible.
A potential downside is that yes, it can be slow at times. There isn't always something to do. But if you're anything like me, that's okay! Sit down with a pizza, and watch those years tick by. It makes the warfare-which can be very frequent-all the more tense and entertaining.
Remember though that this game can't be won, but it can be lost. Should every last member of your ancient dynasty die, or become unlanded, then gg sire, no more game for you. Other than that, losing wars is okay, and can even be fun at times. Rebuilding what your in-game grandfather conquered is almost therapeutic.
I haven't even begun mentioning the plethora of DLCs available for this game, many of which are purely different skins for different units and characters, or additional music tracks. But there are many high quality and incredible game-enhancing DLCs that add an incredible amount of new features and allow for a higher replay value. I won't go too in depth into these, as I believe that the base game is amazing on its own, but should you purchase this game I highly recommend you at least look at the DLC page.
So in conclusion; I'm not telling you to buy this game, hell it's not for everyone. But what I am saying is that if you like strategy games, and this isn't in your library, you're doing something wrong.