Hearts of Universalis
Victoria: An Empire Under the Sun is another historical game from Europa Universalis creators Paradox Entertainment. Using an engine derived from the one used in the rather disappointing Hearts of Iron, Victoria has the player managing nations during the age of imperialism. The game always ends at December 30, 1920, but the player can choose to start in 1836, 1861, 1881 and 1914.
Although Iím a big fan of Paradox games, having loved both Europas and even given Hearts of Iron more than its fair chance, up until recently I couldnít have agreed more with Brettís review on GameSpot. Patch 1.02 came out recently however, and introduced sweeping changes to the gameplay.
Gone, for example, is the magic economy where raw materials are always abundant and thereís always a market for luxury furniture (actually, the latter still holds true.
) A fleet of wooden Men Of War from the age of fighting sail used to be able to stand toe-to-toe with a fleet of the most modern Dreadnaughts, in spite of all logic to the contrary. That too, is fixed, as are the ridiculously static army costs which made the early game very expensive and the late game remarkably cheap.
And yet, Paradox set about fixing Victoriaís problems by attempting to squash a fly with a sledgehammer. The economy is still quite broken, though for completely opposite reasons. Now itís almost impossible to purchase the goods and resources you need on the market. While many are available, some are completely absent from the game. There is, at no point in the game, ever enough machine parts. Britain is the only nation in 1836 with the capability of building them, and one quick look at the pathetic output the factories generate is enough to understand why even the British continually run short throughout the years. At various points in the game itís impossible to get your hands on fabric, sulfur, coal and of course oil.
While scarcity might be understood, the sheer inability to ever purchase these resources and basic goods is what is frustrating. Apparently the game decides who gets what based on their prestige score. Almost inevitably, the country with the highest prestige is also one of the top industrialists, so naturally it should consume the resources everyone else wants.
Production and production bonuses across the board were slashed; itís as if Paradox has a different designer for each aspect of the economy and none of them communicate. They all saw the same problem, all set about to fix it, and now the cumulative effects of their changes result in a worldwide shortage of many materials. Railroads, what had historically made massive industrialization possible, now only give a small bonus. Factory output is reduced, and adding labor has almost no effect. With 1.02 there is a bug, or perhaps design feature, which automatically merges populations from the same province doing the same job. So if you promote 8000 laborers to craftsmen, but there was already a population of 20,000 craftsmen from the same province working in the factory, then theyíll merge together. Whatís the problem? Well, it doesnít really matter all that much if you have 8000 or 28,000 people working as a single slot in the factory. A far more important task is having all five slots (or more, depending on the level of upgrade) filled.