Paradox Interactive Europa Universalis III review
Europa Universalis III (EU3) is undoubtedly a very serious game. It's hugely complex, aloof and largely unbothered about looking good. So it's baffling that it requires a fast 3D card to create its very plain appearance.
The game lets you play as any nation from 15th-century Europe, but it doesn't demand that you do anything so predictable as conquer the world. You could try it, but what's key here is setting your own goals. You could be a military leader or an economic one; possibly a progressive monarch racing to discover the New World first, or a tyrant who's more concerned with bickering over contested borders.
It's an amazingly flexible game, although you'll have to master the often confusing interface before embarking on self-devised goals. It's a game made first and foremost for an established audience, and that means newcomers may struggle to understand how it all works. There's a minimum of in-game help, and much of your time is spent in menus filled with cold numbers.
Struggle onwards, though, and there's a real satisfaction to be had from understanding it all, and from knowing the goals you achieve are very much your own. It's not quite historically accurate - the starting world is a meticulous re-creation of the kingdoms and empires of the era, which are divided into a whopping 1,700 provinces - but as soon as you start playing, all bets are off and anything is possible.
Be warned, though; this is an enormous game. Playing through to the final year, 1789, takes a long time. Managing the huge amount of stuff in your extended empire - presuming you've decided to expand it - can become exhausting. However, if you stick with it that long, you'll be well schooled in the intricacies of EU3, and more able to appreciate it for the thoughtful and challenging beast that it is.