Victoria II Review
Victoria II box art
System: PC Review Rating Legend
Dev: Paradox Interactive 1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid 4.0 - 4.4 = Great
Pub: Paradox Interactive 2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
Release: Aug. 13, 2010 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 5.0 = The Best
Players: 1-8 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
ESRB Rating: Teen 3.5 - 3.9 = Good
Victory for You and Victoria Too
by Cole Smith

We all know people who don’t like, or understand, video games. It’s typically older people, and I can say that because I’m not exactly young. These outsiders tend to lump all games into one category: ridiculously stupid time wasters. What a lot of them don’t realize is just how sophisticated and complex these games can be. Case in point, Victoria II, a nation-building sim and straegy game. The difference between this game and Kirby is so vast it would require a wormhole to traverse it. I am absolutely convinced some members of the highest levels of government would fail miserably at Victoria II, and perhaps Kirby.

Victoria II screenshot

Victoria II is not just for nerds. It does take some time to learn, but I can almost guarantee the rewards are worth the effort. Yes, there were times I would have rather been whacking a mole with a mallet than negotiating religious rights to an irate mob, but with patience and perseverance, what you can do to that mole you can do the entire world, over time.

If you’re a little apprehensive about this version because of the first one, Victoria: An Empire Under the Sun, don’t be. Although I dodged a bullet by not having to review it some seven years ago, I heard all about it from the unlucky sap that did. Apparently, plenty has been changed since, but it’s not important to compare, this game stands solid on it own merit. I am not the most fervent of sim fans, but I do enjoy a good game when I play one, and I can certainly recommend Victoria II to all gamers who enjoy a challenge.

Plenty of tutorials, hints, and automations help keep beginners’ heads above water. Even seasoned vets can relegate some of the tedious micromanagement to the automation and still enjoy an exciting and complex game.

We begin in the 1800s during the Victorian era. It’s the dawn of the industrial revolution. If you’re beginning to think this is boring, think again. This is the beginning of our present day society. It’s a time when the masses stand up to be counted. Freedom, democracy, dictatorship, disposable income, luxuries, oppression, and new technologies are emerging. The Dark Ages are vanishing in the light of enlightenment, and you’re at the center of it all. Communism and fascism are not necessarily bad concepts if you’re playing from these perspectives. This is an age of ideas and ideals.

Victoria II screenshot

A word of advice, start small. Choose a small country and learn the ropes. You’ll gain lots of knowledge and experience by getting your butt kicked by larger and more powerful countries. But not to worry, time is on your side, you have 100 years to raise your nation. Like all economic and civilization sims, the key is balance, and Victoria II is no exception. The main categories you must attend to include commerce, military, and the population. Each of these categories has many subgroups, which are easily accessible from the menu. Picking a category and clicking on it will reveal many options. For instance, the population needs to be kept happy, so you’ll have to give them some freedom in various areas such as laws, religion, and time off from work. At the same time, you have to make sure they’re productive, and you’ll have to tax them to generate revenue for you to spend in other areas. Don’t get greedy because if they don’t have some spending money for recreation, things can get revolting, . and that’s when things get ugly.

Fortunately, aside from a few freeze-ups, the game is almost bug-free. That is until the population revolts and starts making outrageous demands, many of which you can’t meet. These incidents occur randomly and, at times, frequently. You can’t plan for them, and you can’t always deal with them. Paradox may have a patch for this annoyance by the time you get your copy of the game.

Victoria II screenshot

Put away that mallet and stop looking for weasels, there isn’t a lot of combat in this game. World domination comes through more diplomatic means, but there are some battles, and you’re going to have to have some kind of military presence to defend yourself. Warfare is automated, although you do have a hand in many decisions such as where to position your infantry and naval units on the world map. Your military grows exponentially with the population so your army will always be balanced.

Screenshots / Images
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