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So, you think you know medieval times? Think again…

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Yesterday I discovered my wife was pregnant with another man’s baby. I was away in Scotland at the time, fighting a bloody and seemingly endless war to claim the county of Fife. I sent an assassin to kill my wife’s lover; when the baby arrived, I named it ‘Homewrecker.’ Then I quit Crusader Kings II and went to sleep. At 1am. After playing for 5 hours. In Crusader Kings II, this kind of drama is all in a day’s work. Or an hour’s playtime, depending on what speed you prefer to play at. Simply described, Crusader Kings II is a grand strategy game in which the goal is simply to survive. You play as a single dynasty throughout the ages; when your main character dies, you simply move on to playing their closest descendent. Sounds easy enough you may think? You thought wrong.

This is an unpredictable game to say the least. You may find yourself assassinated, or invaded. Your wife might divorce you. Your child might become possessed. On my first playthrough, I was assassinated by a pile of exploding manure. The assassin was my 18-year-old wife. While this kind of tricksy AI shenanigans may make the game frustrating at times, it also lends it endless replay value. No two games are ever the same. Every playthrough has its own unique challenges, from balancing diplomatic relations with neighbouring dynasties, to Viking raiders. The game is rooted in medieval history, which, for a complete and utter medieval nutter like myself, makes it the best thing since ye olde sliced bread. You can play as William the Conqueror, invading and subjugating England, bit-by-bit, or you can play as Edward I and ruthlessly conquer the pesky Welsh (though the unpredictable nature of the game means that you’re just as likely to see Wales conquering England.)

There are challenges which come with this game however. It is a fully-realized medieval dynasty simulator which means that the learning curve for the game is as steep as it gets. This isn’t a game you can just jump into by any means. There are also several bugs which, while hilarious, can also be extremely frustrating. I stumbled upon one of these when my wife accused me of taking a lover behind her back. The lover in question was her. While this bug added a comic element to my game, it was hard to deal with her constantly trying to assassinate me. I’d definitely recommend this game, but with a few caveats. If you’re not a strategy fan, then you probably won’t enjoy this game. If you prefer your video games full of bloody violence and cool graphics, then this probably isn’t the game for you either. But if you enjoy unpredictable games with plenty of replay value and a whole lot of roleplaying potential, then this is the game for you.

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Emily Houlston-Jones

News Editor 2014/15, 2013/14

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