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Eric Campbell

Review: King's Bounty: Crossworlds shall rocketh thee.

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I came to Kings Bounty: Crossworlds as a noob, oblivious to its predecessors’ success in the world of Tactical-RPG. And within minutes of the game’s start up, I began to understand why the majority of folks that I have spoken to about this title smiled when I brought it up: This is a good game.

There’s a growing trend among lesser-known titles and indie games these days that can be described with this basic equation: simple + setting x mood = addictive fun ( or S + ST x M = AF if we wanna get obnoxious). It’s present in games like World of Warcraft where the style of character design and environments are simple yet elegant. Just look at Torchlight, the sleeper hit by Runic Games, for another great example of this style. Kings Bounty: Crossworlds (KB:C) is yet another game that capitalizes on this simple yet immersive style of design that makes the experience worth risking a late grade on your term papers.

In this game you play Princess Amelie, the knightly daughter of some imperiled King of some imperiled land that is on the brink of peril. I’ve heard a few gamers, notably guys, gripe about having to play a female hero in this game and to them I say “SHADDAP”. You didn’t mind so much when it was Laura Croft jiggling her way through a dungeon, did you? In previous iterations of the Kings Bounty games, you play a male knight by the name of Bill, which has apparently become the standard name of badass heroes these days. Only this particular Bill is more concerned with saving his aforementioned imperiled kingdom and less interested in drinking blood and entertaining his beyotch drama queen girlfriend (yes, I am insulting Sookie Stackhouse). In this game, Sir Bill rode off somewhere, leaving the Kingdom in a brief moment of happiness after his successful crusade, when suddenly demons come charging out of a portal intent on cataclysmic blah-blah-blah. I suppose that could be my first criticism of this game. I think the kingdom having to fend off legions of demons pouring in from another dimension has been a bit overdone. And by ‘a bit’ I of course mean that we, fans of fantasy genre, skim over this part of fantasy games because it’s become the standard of fantasy worlds. In fact, you could click through most of the intro to this game and know exactly what is going on.

There are some twists, however, and this is where the story of the game gets muddled for first-time players like myself. The game begins at the end, in that you start in the capital of Kingdom We’re-All-Gonna-Die while it is making its last stand against Demon Lord So-and-So. Actually, the demon’s name is Baal, which is a name I have never in my entire life ever, ever, ever heard used for a demon in any game, ever. You are given an hourglass and told to talk to a wizard who is going to stop time and open a dimensional gate to search for…and I’m lost already. It’s a lot to take in, but I will say that while the story leaves you drooling in confusion, it does set an epic tone for the game that lends itself nicely to the atmosphere of game play. Essentially, you are pulled into another world to search for Sir Bill and, when you return, the warp through space time will be like you never left. You will be bigger, stronger, faster and only seconds have passed after months of adventuring in this alternate realm. When you find yourself in this new world, you discover that while peaceful it seems, it in fact has its own troubles – and thus your quest to save every damn thing that ever was begins.

I’ve mentioned this in previous game reviews, but as I feel the soundtracks for video games are often given the short end of the stick when discussing the enjoyment of a title, I want to take just a moment to say this before I move on to game play: the soundtrack is epic and ass kicking.

The game consists of over-world real-time exploration, RP text-styled conversations with NPCs and of course, turn-based strategic combat. You begin by selecting which class you want your heroine to be: Warrior, Paladin, Mage. I chose Paladin because getting holy on baddies is always fun and it was a good middle ground between the other classes. You’re also given a small pet dragon at the beginning of the game (no doubt to make gamers of the female persuasion go “aaaaaawwww!”) that you will use throughout the story to pull your ass out of the fryer time and time again. I chose the blue dragon “pup,” as it seemed to fit my character well enough, only to find that the blue version of the pet dragon looked so much like Stich from the Disney movie, Lilo and Stitch, that I kept looking over my shoulder for a Disney lawyer each time I called upon my pet to save me from being bitten by an army of bears.

Gameplay is easy and quick and keeps the flow of the game moving nicely. For the combat portion, you raise armies that are represented by a single character for each army while on the field.
I did have some minor issues with controls in the over-world portion of the game. Clearly the designers need to play some Diablo or Torchlight in order to get the “click to go here” perfected. That being said, the over-world portion is the only part of the game where mouse-clicking dominates, and while I found it irritating to be trying to constantly angle the camera so I could see where the hell I was going while ramming into trees on the back of my noble steed, it never seemed to clog up the gameplay too much.
"Decreases tje Damage"? Seems like the last place you would ever want a typo would be your spell book.

There were other little things I enjoyed about the game, such as when my priest would gently kiss the holy symbol that hung around his neck during combat to heal a unit or use an ability. Each unit has its own animation for celebrating a victory and even when standing idle, seems to live in the world. These lovely little animations can be found throughout the game and add depth and richness to the experience, helping the world come to life.

My final take is that if you haven’t played this game yet, you’re missing out. I would say this is one of the better titles I have played in months and I recommend it to anyone looking for their next fix in the fantasy genre.

I give it 4 Scantily Armored Princesses (Excellent!)

Eric Campbell
Contributing Writer

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Updated 28-09-10 at 05:33 by SteveSawyer

PC , Editorial


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