Europa Universalis IV

One more brief game review before the semester starts.

EU IV is out and it’s good. It’s also hard. The AI has been revamped, some scripted behavior has kicked in, or the computer is just outright cheating, but it’s no longer straightforward to do the kind of world domination that I did in EU III. I’m used to a dangerous France, but now Spain and Portugal are as thick as thieves and teaming up more often than to my liking.

The starting and ending dates have changed to 1444 and 1820, respectively. I’m around 1580 with a Great Britain in control of most of the New World gold and North America, but the rest of South America went to Spain and Portugal, and I can’t finance a big enough army and navy to take on both of them simultaneously. Yet.

I made a tough but good decision to leave England Catholic. It was kind of hazy for awhile whether or not to take the plunge into Protestantism, but ultimately it was a business decision; as the game’s Spain and Portugal prove, it’s easier to run a Catholic empire.

Shadowrun Returns

I played the SNES Shadowrun a long time ago. Since then there have been various attempts to reboot the franchise, which was tabletop to begin with, into another successful game. Shadowrun Returns, released late last month, is that game, born of Kickstarter.

If it was any other franchise, I would deem it a small failure. The engine’s world is not particularly populated with things to interact with, other than talk and shoot. The pace is perfectly linear where there could have been a more open world. The branched conversations all lead to essentially the same places, no matter how clever you are.

But it has a major saving grace in that the story is written pretty well and keeps the pace up. It’s a noir murder mystery, much like the amnesiac mystery of the original, and both genres tend to maintain attention. We can apparently expect more content, also, given that the game is as much a story as it is a development package being released to the wild, where more labors of love await.

Silversword

I continue to have free time on my hands, this being vacation, and have added Silversword to my list of temporary game obsessions that will have to end in a matter of weeks as a busy semester ramps up. SS plays like what it is: an iOS combination of Bard’s Tale, Dragon Wars, and a Gold Box game. In other words, it is difficult, slow-paced, and excellent, rewarding both patience and persistence. My only quibbles are with the inventory system; it should expand to the whole screen and freeze time. It’s difficult enough to avoid accidentally using or dropping a rare item when you can be waylaid at nearly any time by monsters.