Crusader Kings II Collection (PC) Review

By Ian Soltes 12.01.2015

Review for Crusader Kings II Collection on PC

Crusader Kings II is, easily, one of the more interesting strategy games on the market. Developed and published by Paradox, Crusader Kings II simulates life as a feudal lord and tasks the player with carefully weaving their way through the many political hierarchies to try and become the top king over all of the world. Surprisingly interesting, gritty, and capable of some truly bizarre and entertaining outcomes, it captures the historical feel of the struggles of a political lord while, at the same time, permitting many wild deviations from history for sheer entertainment and freedom.

Oh, how to describe a game such as this? Crusader Kings II is a game that attempts to recreate medieval history, from the Battle of Hastings in the early 1,000 A.D. all the way up to the Renaissance era, by tying it up in the politics and careful treaties. At first this might sound like a dull and boring history lesson… until an estranged cousin whom someone's father absentmindedly married off to an invading Mongol army pulls her claim for the crown of England and the only recourse is to beg for assistance from a half-brother sired during a drunken night at a feast who rules over Saudi-Arabia and has been reforming it to the Buddhist belief system but is convinced he's possessed by demons! Crusader Kings II Collection can be a gentle, relatively uninteresting, recourse of history, or it can end up being a wild and whacked-out crazy ride through the medieval era where the most bizarre outcomes possible happen. Want the Aztecs ruling Rome? It can happen! Want to forge an empire without ever declaring a single war? It's not impossible, just really difficult.

Screenshot for Crusader Kings II Collection on PC

Honestly, what more can be said? Reform the Norse faith to become a modern religion? Carefully killing off or regulating children to obscurity to ensure that the son who isn't a crazed tyrant takes the throne? Hoping desperately for a son to ensure the dynasty legacy, or a daughter to marry off to gain claims on new lands? Politics in the Middle Ages can be a very difficult and strategic battle in itself without ever once drawing the sword.

Taking place over many years, the gameplay for Crusader Kings II is deceptively straightforward. Starting off as one of the many lords of various ranks, ranging from kings and emperors to lowly counts ruling over single territories, the player is presented with a variety of simple diplomatic options and plots. Things like gifting gold, constructing buildings in the city, marriages, levying armies, and a few other things (such as holding feasts) seemingly mark the extent of options. At first it might not seem all that amazing, but then things start to pan out. The count might marry a lowborn, but his high diplomacy and decent diplomat may get him to marry up, or he might be able to forge claims on a neighbouring land, call in allies to help take it, and carefully navigate his way to kingship until his grandchildren rule entire kingdom.

Screenshot for Crusader Kings II Collection on PC

Being careful is key because a wrong alliance can end up ruining any newly forged lands, a child coming out as poor at dealing with plots might ensure his downfall when the spymaster decides he would make a better king, taking over that one place ruled by a different faith might resign the slowly-gathering kingdom to a swarm of revolts as the priests attempt to convert the populace, and other such things.

The game's key flaws, however, are very huge and come from the very concept of the game itself, hence why the gameplay can be hard to talk about without mentioning them. For example, instead of detailed and engaging combat, armies are little more than giant pawn pieces with combat taking place automatically. Sure, there is some strategy in there, and when the battles take place, attacking over a river can be stupidly suicidal without a large enough army, for example, but on the whole waiting for various diplomatic schemes to come to fruition will rule the majority of the game. Even deviating out into other faiths and cultures, things will rely more upon ensuring everything is working fine from a diplomatic standpoint than high-combat.

Screenshot for Crusader Kings II Collection on PC

For example, when playing as a Sunni, it is important to marry multiple wives and keep various religious obligations in line, but that won't change how things need to tie together on the diplomatic end first. The player is acting as a lord and king first, and a warrior second. While many wild and crazy things can happen, a large amount of time will also be spent idly waiting around for a new forged claim to come in, a child to come of age, a new territory to convert, driving off those annoying raiders and hoping to get a large enough military to wipe out that one stinking territory that they keep attacking because they keep plundering the royal coffers yet have just enough troops at home to win a battle there; things like that.

However, despite that, so long as somewhat lengthy wait-times for action can be tolerated, Crusader Kings II can be amazingly fun as so much can simply happen. A single mistake generations past can result in a continent-wide war, the world can end up bowing down before Thor as he staves off the invading Aztec gods with the Mongals nipping at his heels, a love-triangle can end up ruining an entire kingdom, and there is simply so much potential and enjoyable outcomes.

Screenshot for Crusader Kings II Collection on PC

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

Crusader Kings II Collection is a fun and amazing insight into the medieval world. It is a game where not having to off children to get things done is an exception instead of a rule, where the king of a country can end up cheating on his wife with his ex-wife (both of whom are also in love with each other), and where a toddler can become a Viking warlord before he is out of nappies and receive the title 'the kind.' All from such seemingly simple mechanics, so much depth can happen. Play it as history ordained, or make those fools in Rome kneel before the mighty Norse faith!


Paradox Development







C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   


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