Crusader Kings 2 was one of my favourite games of this year. It was made by Paradox and is a Grand Strategy game, in the vein of Europa Universalise and Hearts of Iron, made by the same company. It is also one of the first Grand Strategy games I have ever actually played enough of to learn and enjoy. Compared to some of the other games like this, which have you thrown off the cliff by Popeye on steroids, this one has a gentle (and this is a relative term, like how having you head kicked in by a chav is probably more gentle than a Great White Shark) learning curve. Hell I didn't use the tutorial at all, but managed to pick up the game within a few hours, but I'm just an egotistical bastard.
The premise of the game is that you take control of a dynasty across medieval Europe (starting in 1066 before the Battle of Stamford Bridge and the possibility to exist until 1453, with the end of the medieval period as the Byzantine Empire falls) this is in comparison to Europa Universalise, in which you take control of a country instead of a character. You must then plot, backstab, marry, war and probably play monopoly in order to take territories in Europe and become the most powerful Dynasty, as others fall around you, like if the world was controlled by dominoes. The problem is, it is exceptionally hard work to keep your dynasty running when people plot to do the same to you, the bastards (bastards also included), and one weak heir could spell doom to you, which brings me to my first hint, don't have your heir as a Celibate Snowman, because then you're screwed.
Rofling Officer: Ah, Crusader Kings 2! You marvellous bastard... the biggest time leech I've played since we genetically crossed a vampire and a tick that feast on the space time continuum. Hands down the best strategy game of the year, and one of the best I've played for a while. It's tough to pin down why I like it so much, as when I first played it I was a little baffled as of what to do. But now, six months on my empire stretches across Europe and the Middle East, through marrying off ugly daughters and sending ugly sons off to die. And god forbid I have an ugly wife who refuses to put out, or makes more ugly children. Did I mention I hate ugly people in this game?
Joose: Characters have different traits which determine how they cope in the world, for example a character who is a kinslayer may be hated by almost everyone the entire world over, or a dwarf may lack stats in pretty much everything, or a fat person may have the possibility to crush anyone in his way (this is not in game.) This makes the game interesting as it mixes up how you play, for example your first leader may have extremely good intrigue, essentially making him a less bad ass James Bond and in the process be able to stop plots against him by learning about them beforehand, however his son may lack in almost everything, and you have to throw money at almost everyone in order to make them like him, like he's at a strip club. This keeps you always at attention, thinking of new schemes in order to succeed.
RO: Moving on from people with severe aesthetic deficiencies, why else do I like the game? Well it's probably the deepest feudalism game ever made, and that's what first attracted me to it: it's a Game of Thrones game essentially (which is convenient as a GoT mod has been made for it, watch out for that later). There are a few niggling annoyances here and there, like how you can only declare war with a valid cassus beli, instead of just attacking by right of conquest. Though I suppose for realism, no wars have ever been fought purely for megalomania with some cock and bull story about WMDs in a middle eastern country as a cover story have they? So anyway, it's a gorgeous deep and detailed feudalism simulator, which sucks away hours and hours of your life.
Joose: This is one of my main bits of disappointment with the game. (You can ignore this bit if you want to because it's not essential at all.) The character creator could have been one of the best additions to the game, making it so you can mould a character how you want, even if you wanted to lead the Smurf Kingdom of Jerusalem, and then take that characters dynasty to world domination, or fail at it. Instead you get about as much customisation as if you visited a shit Plastic Surgeon, or if you stole a Mr Potato Head from a bin, you're given about 5 faces to choose from, and they all look like hamsters who have had their faces stuffed with a guys balls . It is absolutely pointless, as you can't create much character traits either, like all your characters have the education of lobotomised Stick Insect. What it essentially is, is The Sims if the game had been created on paper by a dog... which had lost its legs.
RO: This one isn't the worst of the bunch thought, but it's still a rip off. Whereas most games have a 3D editor with detailed options (particularly as you pay extra) CK2 just has a 2D system with about 3 different faces and 12 personalities. But that isn't the worst of it, not by a long shot...
Sword of Islam
Joose: I don't understand why The Rofling Officer hates this piece of DLC. This is probably one of the best uses of DLC I have seen in a game. It doesn't just add features which had been ripped out of the game at launch, like I assume the event which allowed aliens to anally probe you was, this adds a completely new play style, overhauling the UI, creating new gameplay events (with the introduction of decadence.) The whole point of the DLC is that it introduces the ability to play Islamic characters, which when you hear this you might say "Hey, this should be in at launch because you could change the game files already and be able to play them. Now I'm going to try have sex with a dishwasher." Well you know how I respond to you, I call you an idiot and believe that you should go sunbathe in a nuclear reactor, you tit. This does much more than just make Islamic factions playable, it also expands the map more south, to include the empire of Mali, because what you've always wanted to do in games was control an empire from Mali, being right up there with a game about being able to be a Forklift Truck Driver or being able to wash the arsehole of Mario. It a new interface to the game, as well as new gameplay techniques such as decadence, which if it gets to high, it can lead to your empire splitting up, and the fact you can declare war on any territories next you. Which kind of makes the game slightly, much easier as you can just constantly wage wars. Nevertheless, this added a lot of content into the game, as well as quite a bit of content in the free patch with it, this is how all DLC for this game should be, and I hope they add even more content in for the Republics DLC... Wait did someone say Republics? 'MERICA!!!
RO: While he has a point with it adding the new gameplay elements, it's still not enough to warrant the insane amount of money that you have to pay for this garbage. All it essentially does is green up the UI like you're monitor has been submerged in slime and let you play factions that should have been in the bloody game in the first bloody place. I feel the same about the Legacy of Rome, if Jooseman hadn't bought it me I would have boycotted it on sight. The only DLC that has interested me so far is the one where the Aztecs invade from the East. I've no idea why they took in this direction, seeing as how the game is supposed to be very realistic, but it sounds hilarious nonetheless. Then I heard about the republics DLC and now I hate the developers again. Make the DLC better please, don't just remove features from the main game and add them later on for extortionate prices...
Joose: I don't get the argument that they should be in the game when it started. They added completely new gameplay features and added to the map. By those standards, Shivering Isles shouldn't have been a DLC, or that Warcraft 3: The Frozen Throne shouldn't be an expansion, it should be in the actual game. It's bullshit reasoning, and can be used against every piece of DLC or Expansion in history.
Legacy of Rome
Joose: This is the DLC I didn't like. It's not necessarily bad, as it does add some new content, but this does feel like it should have been in the game to begin with. It added editions to Orthodox nations, such as the Byzantine Empire, nations which have been playable in the game for the start, except with as much depth as a hole created by a one legged Tapir. This annoys me, if you were going to put these nations in from the start, why didn't they improve them, and give them the features then when the game was released, instead of making them a lacklustre edition of the game, and then making you pay to fix it later on. They're like Con Artist Builders... They're like Builders.
Don't let this DLC put you off an amazing game though, as you don't need it to play anyway, and even if you so wanted it, then you can pick it up in a sale. The DLC doesn't make the game any worse.
Game of Thrones Mod
RO: Now then: the game of thrones mod. A great idea, and very well pulled off mostly. I'll first run through what I hate: the updated combat system. I hate it so much, you send Ned Stark's army into battle and you get a window up that tells you that Ned has charged into the middle of a load of Lannister troops. You click an option, and 9 times out of ten Ned dies. It's horribly inorganic and rapes the immersion factor with a cactus full of ebola. Also, the Nights Watch are there for you to essentially have a nice relaxing snooze while you watch the months and years tick by while Winter Approaches Like An Angry Beast (the Wildlings haven't been added yet). The rest of the game is everything I could hope for, it's really, really good, and killing off your least favourite game of thrones characters is always a joy. Take that Cersei, you slutty bitch, hope you like eating knives!
Joose: In conclusion, this is one of my favourite games of the year, and has sucked the life out of me like a Prostituting Dalek. It really is amazing, and while there has been some bad DLC, and some arguable DLC, it doesn't stop the game from being any worse, and even the bad DLC does improve the game, even if slightly to make it not worthwhile to buy. You should buy this game, because even if you don't enjoy the original setting of the game (but that shouldn't matter for the game to be time confusing) there is a wide range of mods, such as the Game of Thrones one, floating around the internet like a thing that floats around the DLC and is almost nothing like what I just described. How do I finish this. Oh yeah, blah blah, buy this game now as it is amazing.