Kingdom under Fire: the Crusaders
TomChick - :60 Reviews - Comments - 11/02/04

If Crusaders is an improvement over the original Kingdoms under Fire, it must have been pretty bad. The Crusaders has a lot of rough edges and you have to power through a thick clot of awful storytelling early on. I don't know how much it opens up, but there's no skirmish mode and the AI seems to be strictly canned, with units sitting around on a map waiting for you to walk into their activation radius.

I'm leaning towards disappointed so far. There's a lot to juggle here, and the whole RTS-on-a-console angle was handled much better in Goblin Commander and especially Pikmin 2. In Kingom Under Fire, Phantagram has built into their RTS an action/fighting game where you have to run around in a battle, find the enemy leader, and whack on him, all the while managing a mana bar that you use to periodically pop off special attacks. It's gratifying at first, and there's lots of cool equipment, character development, and tech upgrade options. But once you get to parts of the game where you need to position spearmen and manage sappers and...oh, fuck, they're attacking my main guys and I wasn't there to do my leader-whacking and spell-popping, so now they're at half strength and...oops, I left the sappers in the way of the enemy archers and...oh, right, I have some archers somewhere, don't I? starts to fall apart.

The graphics have a low-rent feel, like maybe they were trying to squeeze them onto a Playstation 2 at some point. And the narrative is so embarassingly leaden, with awful metal guitar music and swords & sorcery fantasy warriors with names like Brad and Tony.

If this is what it's like down in the thick of battle where Kingdom Under Fire takes you, I think I'd just as soon hover a little higher at, say, the level of Rome or Shogun.

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