The colossal Europa Universalis III is one of those strategy games which certainly does not lend itself easily to expansion, and for the designers at Paradox, coming up with a decent follow up must have been like trying to write the sequel to Stanley Kubrick’s 2001. On the one hand, there was a need for the game’s vast and unwieldy interface to be toned down, while on the other, Paradox needed to add something to the original format which would improve the game play in the right area, without EUIII becoming a complete monstrosity. The series could ill afford another Napoleons Ambition, where Paradox were unable to offer the player any real changes apart from a slightly expanded timeline, and the opportunity to indulge in some serious war mongering at the head of Napoleonic armies.
However, with regard to In Nomine, Paradox have pulled off this delicate balancing act in a sequel which nicely enhances the game play of EUIII by simultaneously streamlining old features and adding some new ones in as well. For a start, there is no longer the need for the player to get all Adolf Hitler-ish on the empire and continually interfere in affairs at the most minute level. New budgetary slider bars allow the player to allocate a proportion of the budget to the tasks of missionaries and colonists meaning that they do not have to be continually re -sent after failed missions. Religion is also simplified by being split into three groups – meaning religious tolerance no longer has to be constantly tweaked with slider bars – and a prior heads up on the AI reaction to treaties saves time and diplomats.
However, concerning the long list of new features, the most significant are well equipped and highly motivated rebels who continually pop up on the world map and always have an agenda. Whether this is political, religious, economic or revolutionary, rebels pose a huge threat to the empire’s stability and must be dealt with decisively. Indeed they can be so infuriating that some players have been put off the game entirely saying that the constant rebellions were a joke, and to sympathize with them, the relentless harassment will have even the most patient EUIII player wanting to sink their teeth into the game mouse in frustration.
Apart from the increased rebel threat however, EUIII In Nomine has a host of smaller additional features and alterations. Some of these include: a change in prestige so that it now directly affects stability, player objectives via a mission system, more options for the Pope controller including excommunication, more advisor options which allow the nation to be customized in more depth, 53 additional years and 2 extra countries…
All in all, no one can accuse Paradox of sitting on the fence. Most of the changes are minor, but that said they are well conceived - reeling in some of the more cumbersome aspects of the game while bringing innovation and greater depth to others – and do not upset the overall balance of game play. Deciding to include such problematic rebels was a bold move and has clearly upset a few fans, but it is nice to see that Paradox are not afraid to keep upping the ante. Although Napoleons Ambition was not a ‘must have’ for fans of EUIII, In Nomine certainly is – just do not let those rebels drive you to smash up your computer.