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Review BetAndRace | Europa Universalis III Complete In three words

Bet. Race. Lose.

Europa Universalis III: Complete

BetAndRace

BetAndRace by name, vanilla multiplayer racing by nature Details

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Price Free | BEST Price Free | genre Urban rally racing | Developer In-house Publisher Vanilla Live Games | Web www.betandrace.com

With casinos becoming so prolific in the UK that we’d half-expect to see a blackjack table and weathered croupier on our next visit to Land’s End, it’s not surprising that someone has tried to fuse the two major widow-makers of the 21st Century in an attempt to create the gaming equivalent of free-basing. BetAndRace (you have to say in one breath) is free to play. Free, in the sense that you don’t have to pay any money for the modest 250MB download and play the full game for the rest of your life, but you might feel small slivers of your soul vacuumed away by the in-game advertising. You might also feel your wallets lighten considerably if you’re foolish, or impatient enough to chuck a fistful of Euros at a real money race: just like the sharks who infest online poker tables waiting to strip the shirts from the backs of drunks and noobs, there are drivers circulating the online multiplayer circuit who you don’t have a snowball on a nitrous-fired engine’s chance of competing with to win the pot. Some of them are probably Vanilla Live’s developers looking to make an extra buck. Unless you’re an amputee, you can’t argue that these people are hamstringing your chances of developing any skill with

BetAndRace, because there’s single-player training for every track, a single-player ‘play’ money mode and a multiplayer play money mode, too – although the same Fast And The Furious muppets who aren’t content with raping you of your dignity and Euros on the streets will happily step into the playground to bugger you there as well. Vanilla Live Games has built a racing game around a betting experience – not the most virtuous reason for creating a game we’ve ever heard, but that still beats the excuse for some of the retail rubbish spewed out by certain other game marketing machines. Plus the control system subscribes to the TrackMania school of accessibility, the download and registration process is quick and easy, and as a result of being free to play, there’s zero DRM. If you’ve no interest in gambling then it sucks half the fun out of BetAndRace, but fling a few quid about and suddenly filling that void between serious games becomes much more attractive. Ben Biggs

Verdict

A fleeting solo experience brought alive by the universal draw of avarice.

7

Tech specs »requirements CPU 1.9GHz RAM 512MB graphics 128MB Pixel Shader 2.0 support

Tech specs »requirements CPU 1.5GHz RAM 512MB graphics GeForce 6200/Radeon 9800

More game than a Scooby Doo triple-club sandwich Price £19.99 BEST Price £17.99 (Play.com) genre Grand strategy | Developer In-house Developer Paradox Interactive Web www.europauniversalis3.com

Details

If budding megalomaniacs have any doubts over Paradox’s use of the adjective ‘grand’ when describing the genre of its popular strategy series Europa Universalis, let us put them to rest. Europa Universalis was big in every way: the map covered half the known world, it had the same replayability as a Tera Patrick video and great big tadger of a difficulty scale that would leave you whimpering in a foetal position if you were brave enough to take it to the hilt. But Odin knows, this wasn’t mountainous enough for the developer and it went and crammed Europa Universalis III, plus the expansion packs In Nomine and Napoleon’s Ambition into one package, calling it Europa Universalis III: Complete. ‘Dauntless’, would be the description we’d give to the kind of person with no EU III experience who plunges straight into this. You can play from the reign of the virtually unassailable King Henry IV in 1399 right up to the dictatorship of Napoleon Bonaparte, lead one of 250 countries, choose out of around 2,000 provinces and apply an authentic historic mode that declares the fate of over 4,000 monarchs across this period. This overwhelming detail isn’t the barrier to entry, though – that’ll be the insipid, textheavy tutorial. But while we can criticise its accessibility, arguably because games have whittled our memory and attention span down to a nub the size of a pea, we can’t fault its depth or how easy you fall into it once you’ve conquered the tutorial mountain. It’s niche, but for an hour or two invested in toiling with the interface, you get a huge return.

Verdict Give it a chance and

there’s a whole lotta game for your money.

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7 23/12/08 16:35:06

RevieweuRopA univeRsAlis iii complete BetAndRAce |