Victoria: An Empire Under the Sun
Victoria is the follow-up to Paradox's rather splendid WWII turn-based strategy game Hearts Of Iron. But while that game had you running a nation through the dark period of 1936-45, Victoria has you in the, er, Victorian era, hence the cunning name. So that would make it a pre-dated sequel. Or something.
If you were guilty of sleeping through your history lessons (that means you at the back), Queen Victoria came to power in 1837 and was superglued to her throne until 1901. During that time, Britain went from being a reasonable European power to the largest empire the world has ever seen. Oh, happy days. Then she died, WWI started, the entire empire started to collapse and everything went down the pan.
Victoria does its level best to recreate the time, technology and events of that period, and you can play as any one of the 133 different nations that were knocking about. You control your country's military, political shape, technological development and forge the nation's destiny. It all sounds like fun. Only, it isn't.
The game has issues; huge, massive issues with bells on. The most obvious is the lack of tutorials. We played Hearts Of Iron to death and still found Victoria incomprehensible for the first few hours, despite the fact they share the same game engine. What chance does a new gamer have? Does Paradox think we're clairvoyant and know exactly how the trade/industry/combat and political modes work? But just in case you are, your efforts are going to be further thwarted by regular crashes to the desktop - a problem not resolved despite various patches.
Stop Right Now
Victoria also attempts to overdose you with information. Take resources: in Hearts Of Iron, it was simple. Oil, steel, coal and rubber were the raw materials you needed and they were enough to make it interesting without being OTT. However, Victoria has 12 options ranging from the obvious -wood, steel and coal - through to luxury goods to keep the people happy as well as explosives and small arms to load up the troops. The main problem here is that it's impossible to see at a glance which resources you're short of at any time, which can hamper your building plans no end.
If that wasn't enough to make your head explode, then the combat is the coup de grace. Attacking a small nation isn't too hard - swarm across the boarder, capture the land and annex for the good of the motherland. However, a large country will spawn partisans (a tad weird, because it wasn't until WWII that partisan and guerrilla warfare really came into its own).
Even stranger is how 3,000 troops can suddenly appear in the middle of a desert when you have the place surrounded. The fighting isn't fun - it feels like trying to shoot mildew with an air pistol. The end result is you spend ages trying to conquer a country that just won't go down - even when you have troops on every inch of their soil.
Having said all that, Victoria is compelling - in a masochistic way. Deep down, there's a great game trying to get out, but it's been hamstrung by our many complaints that can be summed up in one sentence. Piss-poor support for the new user. Victoria will infuriate strategy enthusiasts and baffle everyone else. Maybe a few patches might sort it out but until then, think hard before parting with your cash.
Download Victoria: An Empire Under the Sun
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP