Review Revue is a new series here at ZoKnowsGaming where we review multiple games at once. We review them in such a way that you know exactly what the game is, and we review them in such a way that you know exactly how good we think a game is — with none of the fluff. Although we’ll do this from time to time, this series was created for games that we think are specifically suited for a concise review. These can include games that are focused around one very specific idea, smaller games with interesting premises not often seen in gaming today, and games that folks may have missed that we want to recommend in an effective manner. In this installment, we’re reviewing Payday 2 and Europa Universalis IV.
Europa Universalis IV
Europa Universalis IV is part of the grand strategy genre, a genre that you probably have familiarity with even if you don’t recognize the name. Almost in the same vein as the Civilization series but far more complex, the game simulates the politics, military situation, and economy of dozens of countries between 1444 and 1820. Because of the great attention to detail that the developer, Paradox, takes pride in, the games can easily seem obtuse to some.
There are so many figures and so many variables to deal with, like trade constraints and troop navigation. Moreover, the game carries so many events, buffs, and debuffs that can occur in your game based on what country and historical period you choose at the beginning that the presence of an easy-to-digest tutorial and in-game hint system is extremely appreciated.
This makes the game approachable to those who are used to an easier game like Civilization V, but the total breadth of numbers and variables makes such a brief tutorial hardly helpful when you occasionally forget how to make a basic move just as quickly as you learned it. As such, the first ten hours are generally the ones you need to get through before you can fully enjoy the game.
Contrary to some strategy games, Europa Universalis IV is about controlling the growth of a nation rather than conquering other nations via brute force. If you choose England, you may try to strong-arm your way into taking over the world, while if you’re a smaller nation, you might be pleased with simply surviving as an independent nation through diplomatic moves and peace offerings.
Because of the huge variety in play style to be found in the title and the level of detail to be found in the statistics, the gameplay in Europa Universalis IV is at its best when it can naturally create tales of conquest, survival, and growth just as the result of how excellently designed the game is. You just need to fight for a while to get to that point.
PC review code provided by Paradox Interactive. Europa Universalis IV is available now on PC, Mac, and Linux.
As a heist-based first-person shooter, Payday 2 does little to impress on the surface. The game looks like it came out in 2008, the AI in single-player is unhelpful at best and detrimental at worst, and the NPC models are repeated with impressive consistency. That said, Payday 2 comes from a school where the little details are irrelevant if the main focus of the game is pulled off successfully. As an online heist game, Payday 2 finds that success.
The feel of the game is remarkably nice, featuring tight gun controls and environments that beg to be explored creatively. While casing the joint at a jewelry store, I notice that there are some windows to the side that might offer a better shortcut to the van than going out the door. A mall level actually has two full floors of a mall with unique stores to interact with. With this complexity comes the importance of working with other people, as coordination and task distribution becomes key in later missions. Will you plan the escape route, or will you be the one going in guns-blazing to steal the jewelry?
As previously stated, the AI in single-player is pretty bad. They’ll kill the police and revive you when you go down, but they lack the basic ability to do anything more than follow you. On later missions, this makes the game unplayable to all but the most adept players. If you don’t have the online connection to even play with random players, Payday 2 is not for you.
After accomplishing heists and going back to your safehouse, you can take the pocket money you earn and use it on cosmetic stuff like masks and useful things like weaponry to increase your potential during missions. That said, the lack of really impressive things to buy really makes the only point of missions to play for the sake of playing. This is fine because the missions are really good, but it would have been nice if the game had some super premium items that could only be reasonably purchased through high stakes missions.
Payday 2 is an interesting game that tries to do one thing really well and pulls it off. The things it tries to do that aren’t related to online multiplayer carries a varying degree of mediocrity, but the simple fun found in Payday 2 is a type that isn’t easily available right now.
PS3 review copy provided by 505 Games. Payday 2 is available now on PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and PC.