|System: PC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: NeocoreGames||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Paradox Interactive||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Oct. 8, 2010||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-2||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
While the campaign is a rather linear experience when compared to games found in the Total War series, it does allow for the player to alter history. There is no strict adherence to historical events as they happened so the player can determine his or her own outcome, whether it is good or bad.
The battles are fought on huge, detailed maps. The visual in Lionheart are on par, if not better than the latest Empire: Total War offering. Cities look massive and intricate, even if much of it cant be navigated due to map boundaries. Rolling hills and variations in terrain make for good eye candy while also providing an extra layer of strategy. For example, different types of units perform differently depending on terrain and weather conditions. Archers are less effective in fog and rain, while heavily armored knights are less effective in the desert due to the heat and sand. Knowing where to position your units and when to engage them is crucial.
One area that seems to be lacking in Lionheart, however, is the animations, which seem weak overall. Units running at a fast pace can look awkward and silly. Moreover, when units collide with one another, the battle animations dont actually kick in until after the first few lines of infantry run past each other, which can make for some odd-looking engagements. And, when units do begin swinging at each other, it doesnt look authentic. For example, infantry will swing their swords even when they arent next to an enemy infantry unit. If youre hoping to zoom in and see the battle carnage up close, you may be a bit disappointed.
There is a multiplayer feature that plays very much like the scenario battles, but it doesnt involve the same level of progression as the campaign. There are two modes available: Domination, where each player starts with the same amount of gold to spend on units; and Attacker vs. Defender, where the attacking player gets more gold to spend, but the defender gets to set-up interesting traps such as oil splashes before the battle begins. And, while relics can be purchased and added to an army to give bonuses in the multiplayer, individual unit progressions is not present, so everyones units are essentially the same unless gold is used to purchase specialty units.
The background music does a decent job of fitting the era and mood, but the voice acting is terribly corny and, in some cases, strange. For example, the advisor from the Papal Court, who also instructs you during the tutorial, has a sarcastic and condescending tone. Moreover, you wont find the same level of authenticity as a game like Civilization V because all the factions speak English and attempt an accent, rather than speaking their native language. On the other hand, these are minor complaints when looking at the gameplay.
Lionheart: Kings Crusade is a historical RTS in the same vein as the Total War series. It features large battlefields populated with thousands of units that can result in some interesting and fun moments. Its focused, historical angle should be enticing to anyone interested in this particular era and series of conflicts. It doesnt feature the empire and civilization building aspects of gameplay, but they dont seem like missing pieces of a puzzle with the unit progression and upgrade system. In the end, this is a game for RTS fans and history buffs who enjoy a nice amount of strategy and thinking. If youre more a fan of the Total War series and are not sure about Lionheart, the recently released demo is your best bet.
CCC Freelance Writer