Pride of NationsESRB:
Platform: PC Games
Pride of Nations, developed by AGEOD and published by Paradox, is a turn based historical simulation strategy game. Essentially, this means that, if you don’t like anything slower paced than Supreme Commander 2, this is definitely not for you. Lots of tables, rules, policies, and numbers are the stock in trade of Pride of Nations, and it takes a fairly hefty brain to take it all in. But once you wrap your head around it, it’s interesting and enjoyable.
Taking it as a turn based strategy, however, it does so some interesting things. Diplomacy, for example, is just as cautious and fraught with peril as it was in the 19th century, or indeed today in the 21st, and the character of the 19th century is aptly demonstrated by things like having to declare a Cassus Belli (Cause for War), unless you want to be seen as an uncultured lout (lose points), or you’re invading a “tribal” nation (because, in the 19th century, sad as it is to say, places like Biafra, or even Korea, “didn’t count” as countries) . Similarly, the game is quite helpful, in that you can leave the AI to run certain areas of the game, freeing you up to do things like form a mighty German empire, or turn the Colonial US into an economic superpower rivalling Great Britain.
Combat will come second nature to anyone who’s played a game like Total War, Europa Universalis, or the like, as it’s essentially rock-paper-cannon (replaced later with other interesting historical units), with the sensible complication of supply lines. Supply is decidedly important in this game, as anyone who tries to invade Russia in winter will already know, and those of you who are inclined toward dominance should play cautiously at first, or else lose everything early on.
This isn’t actually a bad thing, because the game is trying to give you a capsule version of the whole world, and there’s a lot of information contained in the UI. Military mode, for example, shows the units, and allows for conscription, but move to Trade mode, and all of a sudden, you have resources, supply lines, mines and farms and factories to construct. Then go to the social advisor, and check on the contentment of your people, what religion they are, and what sort of education they’re getting. Research is, thankfully, fairly simple, allowing you to quickly work out what benefit the research will give you, although the main way to find out how long it will take is to suck it and see.
This isn’t to say that the game doesn’t have its flaws. For example, the game’s tutorial is, frankly, flimsy, and so you are required to read the manual, screw about, and make mistakes, to learn the intricacies of the game.
An important note: This definitely isn’t Civ, and as such, it would be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to dislodge or conquer all, or even a few of the Great Powers. Your main goal is to earn Prestige, whether from getting your nation’s goals (for example, Unification of Germany for Prussia), successfully winning “Missions” (such as having the greatest army in Europe for 80% of 10 years), or winning diplomatic disputes (A note of caution: You can see the chance a nation will go to war with you over something, make sure you keep it fairly low unless you can get Just Cause. I learned that the hard way over Samoa). Research is also not a game breaker, as, while you get prestige for researching things first, your inventions rapidly spread, and so you can’t win PoN just through research.
The graphics are also obviously designed for screens of less than stellar resolution, because my 1920x1080 monitor shows the game’s text (boodles and boodles of it) and buttons in amazing Eye-Strain-O-Vision, so it’s recommended to go to the Paradox forums for the game and find a mod to fix this. There have also been a few complaints about the fact that the UI doesn’t have buttons for the various advisors, only hotkeys, and, to my mind, this is a valid complaint. There’s a lot of information to take in, and if you can’t see how to get to it without reading the manual, this is a definite negative point. For those expecting 3d, nope, this game shows a lot of information, and so it’s 2d. But the world looks good, the units each have their nations’ uniforms of the time, and, apart from the aforementioned tiny icons and text, the game mostly has a good look to it.
Most, if not all of the sound you hear in Pride of Nations is the music, and, while the music fits the period, there are some times when it becomes annoying, such as the first time you load the game. During this excruciating period, the game’s theme at first pleases, with it’s bombastic brass, then bores, and finally annoys. But don’t worry, that’s only the first time you load, every time after that is fairly quick and smooth. In-game, there are different styles of music for different nations, and each has at least one tune specifically for the nation.
Overall, this is a great strategy game, with a lot of flavour, and it’ll only take a bit of work from the developers to make it excellent. And both the devs and the community are working on it, so we look forward to lots of fun!