The Guild 2 - Pirates of The European Seas Review (PC)

Those land lubber dynasties have decided to way anchor and set their sights on a new enterprise, plenty of new swag and nobility up for greedy grabs.

Campaign ahoy
Cheap fishing vessel

For any who has played The Guild 2 you’ll be right at home with some great new features lying ahead. For those fresh faced new comers you needn’t worry, for the tutorials enough to get you boot strapped for family life. One thing already trumps for this expansion is that it’s a stand alone installation so you don’t need to have the original game. The main feature added is of course piracy! No not bootlegging ye-old DVDs out the back of your dodgy looking cart, but with flags, swashbucklers and parrots.

Of course for the more respectable gentry you needn’t participate in such brutish profiteering and can happily stay on land with some of the new businesses and public offices. Running a fishery or even a hospital is open to you now, expanding the economy with new goods. To accompany this new sea faring atmosphere a harbour marketplace has been included to so trade can flourish or fall prey to hijacking just the same. Counting Houses can only be used by ships for trade; the ships themselves can also dock with the harbour for repairs or even upgrades.

Previously if you wanted to protect your businesses or general property it could only by done by either hiring minions or drawing out the town guard to help put down the ‘unrest’. Now you can build watchtowers that will help defend any of your dynasties buildings and family or underlings. They go from a lowly look-out tower to a cannon tower of immense ‘deterrent’, they can keep their vigil over land and sea troubles. Of course these are also used by a town, which will be more than happy to let a volley off at any declared outlaw.

For those up for a more specific challenge you can choose the campaign which comes with set goals, you can develop businesses along the way like you would in free-play but the dynasty isn’t your only objective. The story behind the campaign is pretty weak in both dialogue and presentation but adds some depth to an otherwise pure simulator.

New goods to trade
Cannons fights maybe fun, but cost valuable coin

One thing is for certain, there have been clear efforts to stamp out as many bugs as possible. While a number do crop up once in a while, the majority of lessons have been learnt and a lot of the actual new features included in this expansion come from the strong Guild 2 community. The reason behind such a good following is the ability to mod the game, as Pirates of the European Seas is a standalone expansion many of the mods have already been altered a little to work with it.

Sadly the AI automation of businesses still lacks a great deal, I myself am an automation addict. I prefer to setup some businesses and let them build up and take off so they can serve my political appetites. Unfortunately all industries suffer from inefficiencies, except for one which can hold out and pay off handsomely though it can still require some hands on management at times. The potency of the service trade is very powerful still; gaining a monopoly over churches is a very lucrative cornerstone of wealth. While technically all other goods produced and traded at the market are never ‘consumed’ by the towns populace – churches enjoy the weight of the population directly during mass.

It can still sometimes be a danger to invest heavily in piracy early on, in fact it’s usually best to start off in other areas first, build some capital and then launch a sea faring ‘career’. Of course this is a reflection of real life, not every venture can just take off straight away - patience, time and money play big roles. Its best usually to have a land based business to help cover expenses, plus if your ship was to sink at a time your accounts were less than pleasant …, basically it is smart to diversify your dynasties corporate portfolio.

King of the world! Okay perhaps not quite an undisputed ruler of all the known land, but you can now reach the coveted sovereign throne. Of course it isn’t as simple as applying for the post like so many other public offices; you have to have the social status first. Progressing up the ladder of political power is slowed down by the class hierarchy; obviously it just won’t do for any serf off the street posing as the new King or Queen. These new posts bring new powers; even the process a player goes through for election has been touched up to improve the system. Again the communities’ opinions have proven invaluable to JoWood and 4head Studios.

The game can still pull off its charm graphically; plenty of options are available to make the game sparkle if you’ve got the rig to power them. The sad part to Guild 2 is that when town populations’ hike up the games can feel the pressure of all those demands on the processor.

Ship skirmishes are just like land confrontations, it’s all real-time. Of course this means disputes can be settled more quickly but it also presents a challenge for any player who expands on both land and sea. Keeping eyes everywhere is important, concentrate too much on the land and you could find your own fleet outnumbered and sinking to Davy Jones locker.

New cities and towns
Harbours and Count Houses for sea farers

The Guild 2: Pirates of the European Seas does justice to the franchise and certainly shows in the areas it has listened to the community. There are still issues with the AI and its wacky swings both economically and general path finding but I still can’t help but have a great fondness for it. Plus it’s a break from all those Caribbean pirates pillaging all the glory – let’s give our European brothers and sisters a chance for some swag!

Top Game Moment:
‘Convincing’ ones political opponents at the 11th hour is always satisfying – especially when they hand you the keys to the town’s coffers, those foolish knaves.

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