"For the Glory" is the result of Paradox making available their "Europa Universalis" engine to a development team made up of players and modders of that game from all around the world. The question I found frequently voiced on the forums was: "Why should I buy this game if I already have EU?" Well, the difference is mostly in the scripted events. EU is the sandbox where, as leader of God's Chosen Folk, you can pretty much go wherever your sword....and coinpurse will take you. FtG uses the input from an International community of history buffs to more closely script the 400 years of history from 1419 to 1815 for each of the 180 playable countries in the game. I played as England, with whose history I have a more than passing acqaintance. I was favourably impressed with the events that confronted me and the effects of the choices I had to make. How would I handle peasant grievances against the aristocracy? The offer of various Royal marriages? Allies that want to drag me into their local squabbles? The rise of Protestantism, and of course, the prosecution of the Hundred Years War with France.......To say nothing of the Scottish and Irish questions?
Sounds like a great big History lesson? Well, in a way it is. But a very addictive one....I found myself on the edge of my seat cheering on my ragged band of brothers as they fought the overwhelming chivalry of France....and got their asses whupped! And this sounds pretty sick.....willing my way through 6 months of hard times praying that the 231 ducats in the treasury would survive the blandishments of Italian siege engineers and court painters intent on syphoning off their pork, so that I could repay our last war loan, taken out at usurious rates, and get my economy back on track.
After working through the tutorials which give a great introduction to handling the interface and your various assets, troops, diplomats, traders, settlers and missionaries, I got seriously Medieval on Monsewer Grenouille.....Every ducat my kingdom generated was used to raise troops to ferry across the channel and throw into the fray. And, of course our valiant neighbour was in full retreat giving up province after province to my rampaging legions. The Hundred years War was about to end 50 years early when serious bankrupcy happened! I had noooooo money! I Couldn't pay my troops and all revenues generated by my hard-working kingdom were going to pay the moneylenders' astronomical interest on their war-loans. Oooops! Lesson one of running a kingdom learned...Money is indeed the sinews of war, keep a close eye on your balance sheet. And avoid taking out those loans like the plague. If you really have to when your "Reserves" get gobbled up by an unexpected Heretic Supression or two, then number one objective is repaying the loan on time. Roll over the loan for another 5 years and surprise, surprise, the interest rate goes up! Ahh, the plague! Something else to look forward to.
Take two, the game that has taken me up to colonizing North America and bearding The Don in the Carribean. This has gone much more slowly, and carefully! Frequent breaks for coffee and to make peace offers which include me taking over yet another wine-producing area of "La Belle France". Breaks in the war help your country recover from "War-Weariness" ....which leads to revolts, not a good thing! And, of course, they let you build up a cash cushion to repay any of those nasty loans and fund more troops, which is a good thing. War grinds up troops at an alarming rate, even when you are winning! And while this was going on a fella called John Cabot came calling....Sound familiar? He was the guy who gave us Canada, you know, Labatts, ice-hockey, Canadian bacon Eh?? So I gave him some ships and sent him off to do his thing. Explorers and Conquistadores are your tools to opening up the great "Terra Incognita" (Whited out areas on the map where regular troops and navies fear to tread). This then leads to sending traders and settlers to establish outposts, colonies and eventually cities. These produce money and soldiers, the grease of Empire! Of course, I could have sent Cabot East to discover India early, but I'm such a traditionalist, and who wants a United States of Francophiles? So let's keep it close to the script, at least while I'm still learning the ropes of Empire-building.
Okay, by now you probably get the picture, although this game has no flash-bang graphics, only the sprites are 3D, the maps are a colourful 2D, and the soundtrack is period competent if not particularly memorable. (Forum users have found ways to import the more classical SOUNDTRACK from EUII.) The gameplay is amazingly addictive. Running 2 hours past my bedtime to see how my latest war with France or Spain will pan out is becoming commonplace. The learning curve is appreciable if not steep, not in technically mastering the interface, but in getting yoiur mind around the intricacies of running the "Empire". I'm sure my first false start will not be my only one, especially when I move on to doing things more ahistorically, or running a country whose history is less familiar. SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS are within the scope of my mid-range gaming RIG although my graphics card is marginal which may account for my occasional crashes to desktop, usually after playing for at least a couple of hours. Autosaves and spot saves around major events make this just a minor irritation. When I first started the game I was crashing to desktop every 15 mins or so on my Vista 64 machine. A helpful chap on the FtG FORUM soon solved that for me by telling me to run FtG as Administrator, so it seems like a Vista 64 issue. (Like so many others...I'll be glad when my upgrade to System 7 arrives to take me out of VistaHell.)
Like Hearts of Iron III, the other Paradox game I REVIEWED recently, FtG has earned it's place on my hard-drive. I already have plans for North America, and they can forget Independence Day, Mickey Mouse and MacDonalds! And there are 180 other countries to play through to world dominance. Switzerland or Corsica as a world superpower anyone?....Maybe not.
If global strategy sound attractive then this is for you. FtG comes bundled with AGCEEP (Alternative Grand Campaign / Event Exchange Project Mod) which includes EVEN MORE historical events, and "The Age of Timur (Tamarlane), for when you want to see how far little guys on shaggy ponies with bows and breath that smells strongly of horsemilk can take it. Enjoy!