This is my absolute favorite game of all time and my longest played game ever with 712 hours on steam + 100+ hours on other computers. And I'm here today to tell you why you should invest your money into buying this beautiful pile of ♥♥♥♥, even at full price.
Note: This review is played with all the expansions "Heart Of Darkness" and "A House Divided", these expansions are absolutely NECESSARY to get the fully enjoyable Victoria II experience (But don't get the rest of the DLC, waste of money)
For starters, this game is not for the casual player, far off. This game is a part of the very small and obscure genre of Grand Strategy video games which is made by the Swedish Developers of Paradox, but the genre is slowly growing. Grand Strategy games are very much focused on portraying a grander scale of the already existing genre of strategy (for example 4x Civilization), But with this grander scale also comes hard to learn controls, mechanics and A LOT of trial & error if you don't like watching spoonfeeding guides. And adding insult to injury, this is also the most complicated Grand Startegy game of them all, compared to games like Crusader Kings & Europa Universalis. But if you are willing to play a game for several hours just how to learn to play it, watch tutorial videos and get repeatedly ravaged by the AI, proceed reading this review.
A simple rundown of the game: Victoria II is a game about country/empire managing where you play any country during the time period from 1836 to 1936. You control the economics, build industry, watch your population grow and wage war with the goal of being a dominant power in the world.
Let's start with the content. Put simply: It's endless. You want a game which takes up to 30+ hours just to finish one campaign, and then restart a new one with another of the 200+ playable countries within the game? (Even more if you add mods like HPM, GSG & NNM) There's no goal in the game except surviving from 1836 to 1936, other then that, you set up your own goals . Want to conquer the entirety of Africa as Egypt? Do that. Want slavery to survive and prosper in North America? Do that. Want to turn uncivilized ♥♥♥♥holes into empires and great powers? Do that. Want to be the dominant world police as Canada? Dude, do that. It's all up to you.
What I also like with the game is that every country in it's own right is unique and feels different, some less and some more. Great powers contain a lot of flavor and will offer a lot of historical facts, trivia, decisions and events that will both hinder and help you. Some nations lack in these areas, but is easily fixable by mods out there.
The most important mechanic in this game, which is ultimately the extremely unique population system. Every nation (and uncolonized land) have it's dedicated population at the start of the game, and it will day for day to the end of the game grow. This is the most addicting mechanic of the game, trying to make your nation prosper in the best way possible. POP's has they are called, pretty much defines everything in the game. They pay the taxes you need, produce the goods your selling and buying, work in the industry you build and the most important one, they are the soldiers in your army. If every soldier die in one of your divisions, that division dies off with them. There are no imaginary soldiers that appears from nowhere and refills your army here like in CKII & EUIV, Every pop in the game counts, and every death is a casualty for your nation.
The graphics in the game is very simple and really is just a giant map of the world. But considering what kind of game it is, it does the work and even in my opinion, very charming. While the game always start you out in terrain mode, I suggest you always play in Political Mode, which colors every nation in it's unique color. The game offers many ways to see the game with different kind of modes in the map veiwer. From looking where population density is highest in your country to where you can currently colonize in the world. Mods exist to further improve the graphics with better huds, bloom and textures.
The soundtrack is absolutely phenomenal, with amazing orchestral victorian music which sets up the mood and atmosphere to wage war against your enemies. Even if you are not going to buy the game, you should do yourself a favor and listen to the soundtrack of this game: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XMtVu-ZtwEk
And for those who enjoy modding and playing with mods, this is the game for you! I can safely say that this is one of the most easily moddable games out there. Even I during my free time have created custom countries and events for the game. So if you want to spice up the experience, make your own country and scenario! But if you are to lazy to do that, do not worry. Victoria II's mod community is huge and surprisingly keeps this old obscure game alive even to this day.
Want more nations for your game? (150+, more events and more decisions): http://forum.paradoxplaza.com/forum/showthread.php?683896-HoD-New-Nations-Mod
Want to play in modern times? http://forum.paradoxplaza.com/forum/showthread.php?689900-Modern-Age-Mod-for-Heart-of-Darkness
Want the Zombie Apocalypse to hit the world 1836 and then try to rebuild the world? http://forum.paradoxplaza.com/forum/showthread.php?537039-AlterVicky-Apocalypse-1836
The modding possibilities are endless, which in my opinion is the games strongest point after the revolutionary POP mechanic. Make your own or play the amazing mods that people make even to this day
And that wraps up my review. Put simply, I ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥ love this game and if you like what you are reading, you should consider buying the Victoria Collection right now, or wait until the game hits a sale.
10/10 would play again