Players: 1 to 2 Player Game | Release Date: 10/12/04 | Genre: Real Time Strategy
Kingdom Under Fire: The Crusaders is actually not a brand new franchise. Although it was not a popular game, the original Kingdom Under Fire: A War of Heroes was available only on the PC and was yet another standard RTS clone. Because of the lack of originality, the title never sold well. Something, however, caused Microsoft to sign on to Publish Kingdom Under Fire: The Crusaders though. They made a pretty good choice in choosing it too!
Visually, Kingdom Under Fire is pretty nice looking. Developer Phantagram has done a really good job in transforming the game into an Xbox title and throwing in great graphics. Characters are very detailed and you will see clothes and fur blow in the wind and blood explode on your screen. Can life get any better than that? Even with all of the details, Phantagram still manages to capture all of the action with a ton of characters on the screen. This is similar to what Koei has done with the Dynasty Warriors series. All battles in this game are fast and furious and no screenshot or description can do them justice. You really need to see it in action to appreciate it.
It seems that the video game industry is waking up to the fact that good sound and music can really do a lot for a game. All of the games I have reviewed lately have been very good at implementing good sound and music. I have also noticed this trend from other titles that the staff here at CVG reviews. This is a good thing for the gaming industry.
The music gets you geared up for big battles by playing heavy metal tracks that get you in the mood to cut the enemy up in half. This upbeat tempo to the music also appears in almost all other areas of the game. I guess this is also a way for the game to appeal to a younger audience.
Players have the option of watching normal dialogue with English voices. However, the best part is the option to change the dialogue to Korean voices with English subtitles. This is due mainly because the voice actors used for the English dialogue are not very good. I find this surprising because this is the only element in sound department that is lacking for Kingdom Under Fire.
Since the majority of players never played the original Kingdom Under Fire, the sequel begins at the end of the original story. We will learn a bit what happened in the original game and then promptly begin the Crusaders' story--which begins 50 years after the first game.
While all of these elements make this review look like I really enjoyed this game, there are a few issues we need to sort through. The gameplay is very deep and can take players quite some time to get used to. Players with little patience will probably find that the gameplay is just a bit much for their playing style and will give up on the game.
Gameplay is a mixture of RTS and Dynasty Warriors style action. During the RTS part, you command groups of troops to move around and fight. The Action part is very cool but seems very much like Dynasty Warriors. Having the two different modes really does add something to the genre and makes it a unique gaming experience. The biggest headache is the micro-management in the RTS part. The interface is clunky, the AI for your troops is horrible, and by the end of the day, you would have wished for a complete Dynasty Warriors clone. If you can stick with it and work through the controls, the game can be very rewarding. However, most gamers I know would rather just go play something else if it takes a lot of time to learn how to play.
Overall, I definitely would recommend players taking a look at Kingdom Under Fire: The Crusaders. However, because of the learning curve, you may want to try a rental first to ensure you can handle it.