Europa 1400: The Guild
The story behind Europe 1400: The Guild is my vision of my own future: When I’m 18, I’m going to run away from home and start a new life in Paris with my last money (‘borrowed’ from home). With this money, I’m going to set up a small business, which is of course just the beginning, because I won’t be happy if I don’t become a Baron and with less than the title of ‘Mayor’, I won’t be happy either. How the heck this will end is mentioned in this review …
From the moment that you start up the game, it’s obvious that 4HEAD Studios (the creators) have put much time and attention to lay the finishing touch on Europe 1400: The Guild. The menus are completely integrated in a medieval style and also the loading bars are nicely integrated. Sometimes it happens that you’ll see a small German word in a menu (the original game was in German), but this never becomes annoying.
Europe 1400: The Guild is a strategy game: mostly RTS, but there are also some TBS-influences (1 year is 1 turn). Because undersigned reviewer hasn’t got any experience with this kind of mixture, I just started with the tutorial. I expected a short, ordinary one, but I got a long, detailed tutorial in 5 parts! I said ‘yummy’ to myself and started part 1, where I learned the pure basics of the game, a starter. The other parts were 2 main dishes and some desserts: detailed info about the different aspects of the game. Also very nice is that you can choose between the different parts which one you want to play and which not. So if you think the first part is just for the sissies, you can just choose parts 2 till 5.
When you’re finally wise enough, you can start the real job: the missions. First of all, you need to choose your desired city (there are 5 of them) where you want to play. Every city has its own settings, for example the amount of building ground available and the general difficulty. After this, you can choose between very detailed and various missions with their own difficulty. On very easy for example, you can choose to become a lower politician (like a council informer), to gain a little fortune,… While on very hard, you need different generations to be crowned to sovereign or to become the biggest robber that’s ever lived. Indeed, you can make use of different generations in this game, but later more about this subject. Once your mission is set, you can choose your parents, because your basic skills are set by your parents’! When you got a mercenary as father and a thief as mother, you will have combat talents and stealth skills. Of course, later on, you can build up your skills further. Once you’ve chosen your starting skills, it’s time to pick one of the most important things in the game: your profession.
Now, you’re all set to begin. You get a small business, where you can practise your chosen profession, and a house where you can improve your skills and much more. When you chose a goldsmith as profession, you will start with a small building. When you’ve chosen a thief, you will start with a small hiding place. Now just the personnel and we’re off to make profits! A goldsmith needs goods to produce his products, a thief only steals and doesn’t need any starting goods.
Once you gained enough money and got the right rank, you can upgrade your business and house. This way, you will be able to build more types of chambers and hire more personnel. An upgraded building can also produce more types of goods and so on. There are also less radical upgrades, like a guard dog or a new entrance to your house. The funny thing is that you can actually see the dog guarding your house, the new entrance increases your standing and gives you more action points. These points are needed to learn new skills and some other things.
Becoming a civilian is also a possibility (when you got enough money that is) and you’ll enter the dirtiest part of the game: politics! In the beginning, you can only apply for the lower tasks, but from there on you can grow to the city council, the church leaders or even the leaders of the country! From the second you get in to this, it becomes all clear that the politics from the 15th century were nothing more than friendly arrangements: “I’ll give you this office when you vote for me when I apply for that one…”. So when you’ve got a good band with your superior, you will be promoted without a doubt. All of this is still peanuts with the detailed side of politics. Is the person who’ll fill in the office above you your enemy? No problem: just bribe him! Does an opponent apply for the same office as you do? No problem: just kidnap him! Of course, there are other ways for the ‘peace dude’ guys under the gamers, like giving a party so the attendees will have a better reputation with you. That is, if your party was a success. Once you’ve obtained a high position, you can changes laws yourself! If you’re a building master, you can edit the tax on buildings. Similar, you can make kidnapping legal and much, much more!
There’s also the possibility to find yourself a man/wife who can give you a son/daughter. This is needed to survive on a larger period. If you die then, your son/daughter will take over the game and you can play with him/her. You will be kicked out of politics and your skills ill suck big time, but at least the game isn’t over! Your company, money and title (like baron) will be kept.
There’s also a multiplayer aspect in the game, but only through a LAN. Maybe this has been done because one game last more than 10 hours? However, this aspect has been nicely balanced, but is actually just the same as a single player game with one or more human player(s). The loading time to set up such game is very long (more than 5 minutes on my average system) but this is only needed once in the beginning of the game. When you save a multiplayer game and reload it later, the loading time will be normally very short.
I’m sure a lot of gamers will enjoy this title, and not only due to its gameplay. The graphics are also very realistic, your environment is really medieval. Shadows change together with the sun, it’s getting darker later on the evening and so on. The sound is also very good, as well as the voice-acting. After some 30-houres of playing it becomes boring, but the biggest part of the other games on the market doesn’t have this much playing time, so it can’t be seen as a ‘contra’.
I played some 50 hours on this title thanks to its addictive concept and detailed gameplay. The very fine finishing touch of the game, menus, graphics and sound will also keep you busy for quite some time. Except for one ‘crash to desktop’ I didn’t find any bugs. I recommend this game to everyone who has enough time to learn anything about it!