Europa Universalis: Crown of the North

By Scott Parrino 24 Sep 2003 0

Introduction

Selling new wine in old bottles isn't necessarily a bad business practice. Selling old wine in an old bottle with just a new label slapped on, however, is not a practice we condone. In fact, such a practice is down right misleading. By seemingly passing off Europa Universalis Crown of the North as a new chapter in the otherwise outstanding Europa Universalis series, Strategy First and Paradox Entertainment is doing just that. A consumer would have to do research the equivalent of a mid-term paper to discover that this game is a localized version of Paradox's Svea Rike III, a game published long before Europa Universalis. Such deception could be excused if the game was good. We'll see if forgiveness is still an option.

Crown of the North depicts the only Scandinavian civil war which took place between 1275 and 1340. Economic, military, social, diplomatic and technological aspects of the time are incorporated but in a less complicated manner than in Europa Universalis. The contents of the disc contain a surprise. Unless the buyer notices the little sticker on the shrink wrap, the inclusion of the latest version of Europa Universalis II and its manual in PDF format will be an unexpected bonus.

Provinces are very attractive in the game. Note the mini-map in the lower left. The icons at the top of the screens show the player's status with classes, his victory points and his overall status.

Zoomed in, the structures and units in provinces are shown in sharp relief.

Installation and Documentation

Crown of the North installs using the usual install wizard. However, the speed of installation and subsequent loading appears dependent on operating systems. The game installed and loaded extremely slowly compared to other games under Windows 98SE. However, it was fast using Windows XP with the same hardware configuration.

At first blush, the twenty-page pamphlet-style manual seems to cover the game exceedingly well. However, play reveals two large errors in the manual: unloading ships and settling uninhabitable provinces. To get the straight skinny on these actions as well as other things not mentioned in the manual, the player should read all fifty hints from the screen that appears at the start and re-load of every session. Taken together, the manual and the hints give players all necessary information albeit less concisely than might be desired.

Cities are impressive when all structures reach Level 10. The harbor is to the right.

The diplomacy screen reflects the simplicity of diplomancy.

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