The Guild 2 review

  • Nicer looking than predecessor
  • Certain challenges
  • Good music and ambient sound
  • Far too limited choice of classes
  • Badly thought out interface
  • No story

Some four years ago, Europa 1400: The Guild arrived, a combination of RPG and strategy game that enabled you to live a virtual life back in the middle ages, climbing the ladder of medieval wealth and politics. While the game was kind of rough around the edges - most of your time was spent staring at static screens of statistics and figures - it was still surprisingly unique and really deserved a lot more attention than it got.

Sorry to say, The Guild 2 isn't even that good. Admittedly, it's a lot more graphically interesting than the original, with fully 3D towns packed with virtual inhabitants scurrying to and fro as they busily go about their lives. The music is excellent, and there's a lot of digitized speech and ambient sound to set the mood.

There are also a lot of problems. For one, there really just aren't a whole lot of choices or options. You start by creating a character (oddly for a game set in the Middle Ages, whether you choose to play as a man or woman has zero effect, except in choice of marriage partners - no Massachusetts weddings here), limited to one of four basic classes: patron, craftsman, scholar, and rogue. Each class has its subdivisions - a scholar can choose being a priest or an alchemist, for example - and these are chosen mostly by which kind of buildings you buy and in which areas you concentrate your skills as you earn them.

However, from there the basic game plan is pretty much the same for everyone: work at your chosen profession to earn money while also buttering up the local populace so they support you and not rival guilds, then leverage that money and popular support into political influence so you can earn even more money and influence to wipe out those rivals.

So, while it's true enough that running a Robber's Nest involves different challenges than running a blacksmith's shop, the overall game plan doesn't vary much, so the only real difference is whether you're earning money by forging swords, or by slicing people up with them. In fact, every profession has an up side, accompanied by a thunker of a down side: it's fun beating the crap out of folks as a rogue, but then you spend half your time at trial... boring.

The task can (and will) take generations, as you marry and educate your children to continue your "dynasty." In fact, that's probably the biggest difference between Guild 2 and Europa, in that Guild 2 concentrates much more on Sims -style personal interaction. The trouble is they've done this at the expense of the management/industry portion of the game, and even with the greater emphasis on the personal, there's still no storyline or scenario to follow, just a grab for money and power for its own sake.

Worse though, the overall pace is positively glacial - it simply takes forever to accumulate any capital or influence. And it doesn't help that the interface is rather twitchy, using odd sequences of right clicks, left clicks, and button holds that never quite seem to do what they logically should. You get used to the controls eventually, kinda, but the initial learning curve is mostly spent fighting with the game to accomplish even simple tasks like getting a cart to go from here to there.

In the end, although it may keep you interested for a while, and some of the classes offer some interesting challenges, The Guild 2 is even more rough around the edges than the original Europa, and not nearly as deep or even as interesting. It's nicer to look at, but that's about it.

More Info

Release date: Oct 12 2006 - PC (US)
Oct 12 2006 - PC (UK)
Available Platforms: PC
Genre: Strategy
Published by: Aspyr
Developed by: 4Head Studios
ESRB Rating:
Teen: Blood, Sexual Themes, Use of Alcohol, Use of Tobacco, Violence


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