By Carlin Au
A husky voice speaks out to me, “Your father is gravely ill, the Knights of Round Table have scattered, and Merlin is no where to be found. As King Arthur’s son, these are all your problems now.” That’s cool, I like being thrown into a world I know next to nothing about. Besides, this will be a completely different story that is based on the ancient legends of King Arthur and declares you the new King of Camelot.
This review includes the DLC: Dead Legions.
Kings! Demons! Knights! Companions! Women… With all these elements combined, a writer could definitely create some kind of dragon-slaying, generic princess-saving adventure. Fortunately, King Arthur II is much more complex than that. The overall story is nicely written and is read to you by that same husky voice that so graciously informed you of your father’s illness. Not that the voice acting is bad, its actually quite good. The narrative voice breathes an air of mystery and suspense, which makes the game more entertaining and immersive because the story consists of a text-based adventure, rather than the oh-so-common cutscenes.
Winter is Coming
I never thought turn-based strategy could coexist with real-time strategy until I had my first encounter with a 4X strategy game, but it actually spiced things up. Including the turn-based system meant having to deal with politics and taking over the surrounding lands. Having to decide whether or not to invade one of my neighbors and building up your territories made the game a lot more interesting than moving from battle to battle like in most strategy games. One would think that I would enjoy the turn-based strategy in King Arthur II, considering my past experience with them. However, this is not the case.
I never realized how much I hated winter until I played King Arthur II. The decision to render the player immobile during winter makes sense, but to make that turn the only time players can upgrade buildings and territories is silly. I found myself clicking “end turn” just so my troops would gain an extra 5% health so that they may survive the next battle. Sure, it is realistic to immobilize everything in the winter, but making winter the only time the player can upgrade his territories is absurd. This flaw feels like its only there for the player to do something while your soldiers idle away in their tents, so that the game may seem a little more realistic because of the weather.
A Whiff of Grapeshot
Thousands of men stand at my command and will march miles once I give the order. They are my soldiers, who have fought by my side from the beginning of my journey. Not even ten seconds into the battle, Lightning strikes and decimates one of my units. I retaliate by summoning a red cloud on my opponent’s archers which die within seconds. Aside from this sounding like a Yu-Gi-Oh battle, spells like these cause massive damage to units on the field and can change the tide of battle. Certain spells can act as area of denial zones like the Lightning Strike which forces you to continually kite your units, or they’ll walk into a killzone. Some other spells affect the weather like the Storm of Avalon which limits movement and the firing radius of all ranged units. Spells like these make the gameplay more varied because it keeps you guessing and makes you adapt to different situations which is lacking in some real-time strategy games.
RPG + Strategy = ?
You discover a band of robbers hiding in the woods. They have stolen a sacred artifact. The local villagers have reported said artifact missing. Do you: attack the robbers and return the artifact, take the artifact for yourself, or ask for a bribe? Situations like this appear all over Britain and they all have their advantages and disadvantages; some have better rewards and harsher consequences. These decisions sound important, however, they normally have temporary rewards or consequences. It’s not necessarily game-changing if you would kill the robbers and steal the artifact. I don’t think the ending would change if you became a terrible tyrant. No, its more like a slap on the wrist and a few peasants cursing your name.
Conclusion – Is it Worth Your Money?
At first, I thought I was going to get more out of strategy than role-playing, but King Arthur II’s role-playing aspect clearly outshines the strategy portion. It was nice to play a text-based adventure game with some really good voice acting that came with a real-time strategy component. I did enjoy how the decisions didn’t have a major impact on the ending, but could help you temporarily. However, there is still a part of me that would really enjoy alternate endings, rather than the set-in-stone one. Also, there is no replay value other than starting a new campaign, because there is no multiplayer side on it.
Aside from the fact that I could win battles with only three or four units, the strategy and action were pretty solid. If I am able to defeat whole armies with three of four units, something’s wrong with the AI. The game feels very easy to play, so people interested in real-time strategy games can with one like King Arthur II. The inclusion of magic also benefits newer players because it helps them learn how to adapt to different situations.
King Arthur II is a good game, but there are better games available for a lower price. Although a person trying to get into the genre would definitely enjoy this game, King Arthur II has got the role-playing aspect down, but as far as real-time strategy goes, it has a long way to go before entering the big leagues.
King Arthur II Technical Summary:
- Time Played: 11 Hours
- Widescreen Support: Yes
- 5.1 Audio: Yes
- DRM: None
- Bugs: Some performance issues, Nothing game-breaking
- Control Scheme: Keyboard/Mouse
- System Specs: Phenom II X4 955, Radeon 6870, 4GB of RAM
- Game Acquisition Method: Review Copy
- Availability: Steam, Amazon, Gamersgate, Gamefly, Green Man Gaming