Update: One of the fellows on the Paradox forums pointed out that you can simply copy the music from your EU II folder to the folder for For the Glory, so I can now unreservedly recommend the game.
Europa Universalis II is, in my estimation, one of the finest games ever produced, in any form. It is also, like, say, Dwarf Fortress, pretty impenetrable to newbies; reading the manual (and possibly my article on EUs II and III) is mandatory.
In case you aren't familiar with the series: the EU games begin in 1419, in the Late Middle Ages, and end in the Napoleonic era. There are a number of scenarios with varying starting dates, each with the world divvied up as it then was; the game allows you to play any nation on the planet, from, say, the Spanish empire to the Iroquois (albeit you will probably get farther with Spain). It is, in essence, a world conquest game, but it makes conquest difficult; excessive aggression annoys your neighbors, extended wars cause unrest at home, and so on. But for sheer scope and color, it is unparalleled. You could teach an entire college-level course in Early Modern history with this game, and somebody probably has.
When EU III was published, I had severely mixed feelings about it. In updating the game, the developers chose to eliminate one of the main things about the original game that I loved: its close tie to history. That is, the countries and starting positions remained, but they eliminated the "historical" events of EU II in exchange for genericized ones. That is, you no longer got an event like "Hapsburg inheritance of Burgundy," triggered by the historical fact, but instead events like "if country X has marriage alliance with country Y and the monarch of country X dies without heir, perform a random check with one possible outcome that country Y inherits".
This made a game that felt, well, generic; the kinds of things that happened in history could happen, but while EU II made you actually feel as if you were playing Austria or Portugal or Sweden, or whatever, EU III made the game feel much more like an abstract strategy game -- asymmetrical game starts, of course, but with so much up to individual decision and chance that it felt less like trying to influence the course of actual history and more like, well, a generic world conquest game. In some ways, EU III is the better strategy game as such -- but I wanted my history back.
Mind you, the version of EU II I played most was the AGCEEP -- a combination of two fan-created mods, the "Alternative General Campaign" (AGC) and "Extra Event Project" (EEP). Essentially, the collective hive mind of EU players decided that while the developers of the game provided plenty of history-tied events for the major European powers, the minor ones got short shrift--never mind something like Japan or the Mughals. Individual players took it upon themselves to research the history of different countries and write comprehensive events for them -- also elaborating the events for the major European powers, of course. They ultimately produced more than ten thousand events, a virtually encyclopedia of Early Modern history in the form of external text file triggers for the game's event generation system, practically a wikified version of history created by fans of the game.
Cool, or what?
The result was almost the inverse of EU III -- a game in which you often felt jerked about by the tides of history, desperately improvising to improve the chances of your nation a tiny bit over historical outcomes.
Of course, that's probably a lot like what it felt to be an Early Modern monarch.
For the Glory was evidently developed by people who felt somewhat the same way about the transition from EU II to III as I; forum contributors formed a separate company called Crystal Empire Games, got Paradox (EU's developer) to let them use the source code for EU II, and developed this update to EU II. Thus, it's still a 2-D game (though 3-D adds very little in this kind of grand strategy framework), and some of the appealing aspects of III (like advisors) are missing. But there are lots of little tweaks that provide a definite improvement over EU II, like different types of "core" provinces, rebalanced scenarios, privateers, and the adoption of some of III's rules for the Holy Roman Empire. Plus -- Oh joy! -- the AGCEEP is incorporated, accessible on the start menu, so you can experience all the frustrations and fascination of that version's close connection to historicity.
In other words, this is essentially a total conversion mod of EU II, created by devoted fans of the original game, and published (for 10 euros or 20 bucks) with the permission of Paradox, and available for purchase via download through Gamer's Gate (Paradox's digital distribution operation). That's kind of cool all by itself.
The immediate question, of course, is: Which is superior? EU II plus the AGCEEP mod (which can be found for free on the forums), or For the Glory?
The answer to that question is, unfortunately, not straightforward. EU II is $10 cheaper, but getting the mod to work with it requires you to jump through some technical hoops. And For the Glory does have some nice additional contents and tweaks that might well justify the additional price -- except for one thing I miss severely and bemoan the lack of.
You see, somehow when Paradox released EU II, they got a smaller classical label to let them include virtually their entire catalog as music for the game. In the early game, you'd be listening to Gregorian chants, and by the end game, to Beethoven. Dozens of tracks were included, changing gradually and appropriately over the historical period, and in addition to all its other virtues, EU II was an eye-opening education in classical music.
For whatever reason, Paradox doesn't seem to have been able to renew that license, so neither EU III nor For the Glory contains the music. Oh, it contains some original orchestral music that's reasonably nice, but it's just "game music," it isn't the music of the period you are playing.
For that reason alone, I'd almost recommend EU II instead. Except that -- EU II 's event engine is limited in the number of events it can handle, so while the current AGCEEP still works in it, For the Glory can handle additional updates to the mod for the foreseeable future. And there are the tweaks I mentioned before.
Of course, what I really want now is a user-created patch that will allow me to point my For the Glory client at the EU II folder on my hard drive, and play the music I have legally installed there. If someone produces that, I'd say buy both, by God.