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King's Bounty: The Legend Review
developer: Katauri Interactive
PIV 3000, 1GB RAM, 256MB video card
|ESRB rating: T
release date: Sep 23, 08 (released)
|» All About King's Bounty: The Legend on ActionTrip|
The year 2008 didn't bring much on the RPG front, aside from releases like Fable II and Fallout 3. As a matter of fact, I'm still trying to shake off feelings of disgust caused by lackluster titles such as Space Siege and Too Human. In short, during 2008, we've seen one disappointment after another or mediocrity at best. King's Bounty: The Legend is, on the other hand, something we did not expect. It's actually based on the King's Bounty license developed 18 ago by New World Computing.
Where is everyone? My horse can't smell that bad.
The waterfall is a perfect place to hide. Hiding is a lot better than dying.
This game emerged from Russia-based studio Katauri Interactive and it hit stores several months back, but we only just got the chance to dip into its many intricacies, so please don't be angered by the late review. I've spent quite a lot of time playing the game. Also, the game had been overshadowed (to say the least) by a variety of major releases throughout October, November and December.
King's Bounty: The Legend is a fantasy themed strategy game, heavily relying on Heroes of Might and Magic turn-based style gameplay. Experienced strategy players will be at home here. There's a slight twist to the formula. Players guide their units and heroes switching between real-time exploration and turn-based battles. So, the major difference here (when compared to HoMM) is that hero units aren't moved about the map by draining turn-based points. The fact that you can explore the world in real-time gives you numerous advantages, especially when you need to avoid unnecessary conflict with considerably more powerful foes. It also means you don't have to sit and wait for the enemy to tactically position its armies across the map.
Right from the get-go, you're bound to be drawn in by the slick design, appealing artwork and lovely background music. The visuals are very much behind today's standards, although we weren't bothered by this and I assume most of you won't be. Like I said, design wise, everything seems in place. Each unit or hero is animated with precision and care, both during turn-based battles and on the world map. The colorful landscape and the realms are astoundingly huge. It'll take you quite a bit of time to discover all the lands and solve all the quests.
You can choose to experience the main campaign as Warrior, Paladin or Mage. Each of these hero classes feature benefits and disadvantages. As a Warrior, you can increase your ability to govern troops effectively in close combat and you'll be able to master skills that allow units to increase critical damage. Playing as a Paladin, of course, grants you certain advantages against Evil-based races, particularly when facing the undead and demons. The Mage is an expert in a variety of magical skills and wields an impressive selection of deadly spells.
Of course, tactical decisions made in battle depend greatly on the hero class. The point is that no matter which class you've chosen, the game should provide many hours of decent entertainment, both for strategy fans and RPG buffs. I do have one major gripe concerning orientation. The maps are well-drawn, so players can have a better idea of where they're supposed to be going. The problem is the map doesn't show locations of quests and key characters, which means you'll either roam through the realms without a clue of where your goal is or you take the time to mark the start of each quest on the map, so you can return to specific characters once you've completed the task. It's a bit frustrating.
Summoning this guy is always a pleasure.
Poison skull... never fails.
Quests may not be too original in terms of structure and yet somehow they feel less generic than in games like Sacred (a franchise which I consider to be the mother of random quests).
King's Bounty: The Legend has one flaw that sticks out. The game doesn't feature any voice acting, which puts the emphasis on written dialogue. While we cannot see anything wrong with getting back to classic RPG-style storytelling, there's really not a lot to enjoy in that respect. The characters seem uninteresting and the story feels rather corny. Also, you won't find a multiplayer mode here, which is a shame, seeing as there's plenty of potential on that front.
Weak writing, the retro look and other flaws of King's Bounty shouldn't stop you from trying the game out. There's a beautifully presented fantasy world just waiting to be discovered, along with a long single-player game crammed with enough content to guarantee a lot of hours of good clean fun. We certainly haven't missed out on such an experience and neither should you.
8.6 Very Good
A well-polished and addictive strategy game, effectively utilizes traditional turn-based gameplay mechanics, lengthy single-player campaign, huge world map, beautiful artwork, great soundtrack;
Retro visuals, story lacks depth, weak characterization, world map needs some additional work, absence multiplayer.
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