|System: PC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Katauri Interactive||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: 1C Company||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Sept. 17, 2010||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Derek Hidey
The Kings Bounty series has been around since before Sega made, and stopped making, consoles. In fact, the originals were playable on DOS. Since then, the series has undergone a variety of upgrades to make todays demanding gaming audience happy. The latest installment in the series is Kings Bounty: Crossworlds, which isnt so much a sequel as it is a large and comprehensive expansion. It features the original Kings Bounty: Armored Princess and then adds three additional campaigns on top, one of which is the original with some extra updates.
It is important to note that there are three versions of Crossworlds. The full version is a standalone game that contains the original Armored Princess plus all the new content. The second version contains just the new content but is still a standalone game. Finally, the third is more along the lines of a traditional expansion pack, therefore requiring you already have Armored Princess installed on your computer. Providing the varying options is great because for someone like me, a newcomer to the series, the full version feels right, whereas veterans who already own Armored Princess wont be forced to purchase it all over again.
Crossworlds is a mix between RPG and turn-based strategy. In each campaign, you control a main character and guide him or her through a real-time world talking to NPCs, accepting quests, using gold to acquire troops to fight in your army, and upgrading your weapons, skills, and spells. But, once the battles begin, the RPG, point-and-click movement is replaced with a turn-based, hexagon-style strategy game. At this point, you must move your forces around the board, picking the right mix of spells, attacks, and unit combinations to achieve victory. Sure, its a tad slow compared to a hack-and-slash title, but that isnt the point. There is a lot of depth to the combat in Crossworlds, which makes it a lot of fun to play as well as a great deal of experience to master.
In fact, I decided to skip the tutorial during my first attempt at the game. Naturally, I got my butt handed to me rather embarrassingly. After that point, I started to get a the hang of how the combat played out, and, before I knew it, I was winning my battles rather decisively.
One flaw in the games design is the lore and story, which obviously affects the RPG elements a lot. All the voice acting is limited to the cutscenes, which dont really provide much in the way of role play. After that, all lore and quest information is given in the form of long text trees. Moreover, you can tell there is an attempt to make the player feel like he or she is actually making decisions because different dialogue options are available when speaking to NPCs. Unfortunately, they are merely cosmetic, as choosing to say something mean or bratty rather than accommodating doesnt seem to affect the outcome of the conversation in the slightest.
Another issue with Crossworlds, which is more of an issue with Armored Princess, is the lack of a big world. Throughout the main campaign, youre forced to traverse small islands laid out in a linear fashion. Once you defeat the main bad guys on one island, the next one becomes available. From there, you simply fast travel between them and continue. The combat system is obviously the core gem being offered by the Kings Bounty series, so it seems unfortunate that the RPG elements dont complement it as well as they could.
Crossworlds includes an updated Armored Princess campaign as well called Orcs on the March, which simply adds content to the original games plot, so it is difficult to hail it as being much more than a glorified DLC pack. On the other hand, Crossworlds does offer campaigns such as Arena Champion, in which the player assumes the role of Arthur, a knight who has been tricked into competing in arena combat to achieve fame and fortune, and Defender of the Crown, which has players in the shoes of Princess Amelie again, showing the events after Armored Princess. Both of these campaigns break the standard quest-based RPG elements and replace them with boss fight after boss fight.