Europa Universalis: Vae Victis Review (PC)

Imagine yourself in Ancient Rome and you’ve paid for Gladiatorial combat seats. One of the fighters puts in a mediocre display and the vote comes down to you. Thumbs up, they live. Down, they’re condemned to death. It’s a tad drastic to compare such a situation to whether Vae Victis is worth your cash, but its contextualisation offers an interesting dilemma. In the modern era with the credit crunch hitting hard and the large amount of games that are currently on the market / due to hit it, an informed choice has never been more important.

Paradox Interactive’s expansion pack for the Real Time Strategy title, Europa Universalis: Rome [Vae Victis] costs a meagre $9.99. Expansion packs are often a problematic choice. You can expand your favourite game for a reasonable sum, or save up for a new, shinier game. Luckily this time around the choice is dead easy, no. Shove that thumb downwards and condemn it to a painful death.

Tyrannical Oppression
Lawful Justice

For the uninitiated, Vae Victis offers gamers improvements to the game’s governments, a buffing out of the game’s characters, an improved UI, rewarded missions and improved AI. Well, according to the press release it does. If you’re unaware of what Europa Universalis: Rome did before, then all this will be irrelevant.

Rome is your typical historical RTS. You’re granted control of an ancient empire / colony and tasked with guiding it to greatness. There’s no objective or aim, simply an end date and a score system to rank you against your fellow players. Taking place on a digital map of Europe, wannabe leaders can control every part of their chosen civilization. Finances, the Military, Religion, Culture, Trade, Colonization, and War all come into consideration.

The game relinquishes control through a variety of menus and statistic heavy lists. Everything is a bit ‘percentagey.’ This increases morale by 1%, this trait allows for a 10% improvement to heavy infantry. Overall, the game manages to recreate a historically accurate case study of ancient politics, warfare (even if it’s just maths based calculations) and social interaction. It’s a deeper version of Rome: Total War’s campaign map, but lacks the visceral combat that pushes it above Europa Universalis.

The Senate
Military Parties

Obviously, this is already known to you. It’s unlikely that you’d be reading a review for an expansion pack if you’ve never played the original. In reality, this expansion should not have come to sale. It’s a content update, nothing more. This is patch work, not an expansion. It’s difficult to look past other companies (i.e. Valve) who lavish free content via digital distribution. Vae Victis is available from Direct2Drive or GamersGate so gamers should receive the same treatment. There’s not enough new content to even charge $4.99. It’s taking penny pinching to the extreme.

What you do get is slightly improved interaction. Everything’s been tweaked and tidied up to simplify the experience. The missions add some structure to your management and the character interaction lets you immerse yourself in your government. Apart from that, the improvements are unlikely to be noticed. We’re finding it hard to recommend to even the most hardened of players. You’re better off keeping your cash and picking up a similarly priced indie game. Patch it, don’t pay for it.

Top Game Moment:
Imprisoning those un-loyal to you.

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By Nicolas19 (SI Core Veteran) on Dec 08, 2008
It does include some interesting changes. Man, I was so bitterly disappointed with the original Europa Universalis: Rome... This pack refines Roman politics a bit, to add a bit of depth, but I think some major re-thinking should be on the way.
I'll give it a try for 10 bucks.
By nobuargaoda (SI Core Veteran) on Dec 08, 2008
I prefer Medieval Total Wars to Vae Victis. Actually i don't know if those games can be compared with, because i'm a newbie in this game. Only certain people can enjoy this game.
By Nicolas19 (SI Core Veteran) on Dec 08, 2008
They're not really comparable. The emphasis here is not on combat. In Medieval: TW, you do a little bit of economics, politics, etc to be able to fight properly, here, the other way around: more management, less fighting.
By devel (SI Elite) on Dec 08, 2008
Perhaps those games can't even be compared, since one is more concentrated in developing a civilazation, whiele the other focuses on War siege, and anihilate you opponent to the end. But I guess that since they are going through new releases people enjoy them so they work harder and do a better game, don't you agree?
Overall, I think we all agree this game is a good RTS and if you have the time and the patience, you'll have a nice time playing it.
By AceofSpades (SI Member) on Dec 08, 2008
This game is good & I like it but if I wanted to get a game like this I would settle for Rome Total War or one of its expansions.
By Nicolas19 (SI Core Veteran) on Dec 09, 2008
Devel: while it seems to be true, I was really disappointed with the game failing to model the Roman civilization. There are so few games that are actually about society, ad less about warfare. Where we could develop an army to our nation, and not the other way around (like the famous quote about Prussia:)
By Marco_Fiori (SI Veteran Newbie) on Dec 09, 2008
The original was good (ish), but the 'expansion' was thin. I just can see that many people buying it and thinking: good, let me pile in the hours of gaming.
By nobuargaoda (SI Core Veteran) on Dec 09, 2008
So it's true we can't compared Medieval TW with Vea Victis. What about Galactic Civilization? Does this game better than Vae Victis? Because i'm confused enough to try the games, Gal.Civ or Vae Victis?
By Nicolas19 (SI Core Veteran) on Dec 09, 2008
I haven't played Galactic Civ, so can't really tell. I hope that after the competition, that situation's gonna change:):P
By devel (SI Elite) on Dec 09, 2008
Perhaps Vae Victis is a sort of Galactic Civilizations, but with the twist that one is on earth, while the other focuses on space civilization.
By nocutius (SI Elite) on Dec 10, 2008
Galactic civilizations is completely different to both EU and Total war series. It's much more like Civilization in space.
By nobuargaoda (SI Core Veteran) on Dec 10, 2008
Yes, i know that, but i asked about the gameplay, not the theme. Are they just same or what? :)
By nocutius (SI Elite) on Dec 10, 2008
Yes i'm talking about gameplay, all 3 are completely different, pretty much incomparable. Galciv has a similar gameplay like civilization in space would have. You build your own colonies and develop them. In EU and TW all the cities and provinces are already on the map, even though you still have to develop them.
By Nicolas19 (SI Core Veteran) on Dec 11, 2008
Thats it: you can't rebuild Rome, especially not in a day:))
By Knave (SI Core) on Dec 11, 2008
I too, was rather disappointed by Rome, and I've never really liked Paradox's strategy of selling slight upgrades on the content side as full-blow expansions, they do it a little too much. I really enjoy their other games though, (EU 3, HoI, CK etc.)
By RurikGreenwulf (SI Veteran Newbie) on Dec 12, 2008
That the idea a good ol game
By Call_of_duty_4_life (SI Newbie) on Jan 05, 2009
This game is really good cause its mostly politics,trade,economy...In RTW there are battles that you have to fight wich sometimes is boring because I like Strategic war then battles and skirmish combat.