Lionheart: King's Crusade Review
Lionheart: King's Crusade box art
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.

Lionheart: King's Crusade screenshot

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 can’t 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 don’t 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 doesn’t look authentic. For example, infantry will swing their swords even when they aren’t next to an enemy infantry unit. If you’re 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 doesn’t 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 everyone’s units are essentially the same unless gold is used to purchase specialty units.

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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 won’t 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: King’s 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 doesn’t feature the empire and civilization building aspects of gameplay, but they don’t 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 you’re more a fan of the Total War series and are not sure about Lionheart, the recently released demo is your best bet.

By Derek Hidey
CCC Freelance Writer

RATING OUT OF 5
RATING DESCRIPTION
3.5
Graphics
Highly detailed visuals that scale well are only slightly hindered by sometimes awkward animations.
2.5
Control
Fairly traditional controls are hurt by a difficult-to-control camera and the user interface getting in the way of mouse dragging units on the screen.
3.0
Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Quality but forgettable music suits the game well, but bad and condescending voice acting can be funny and then just strange.
3.0
Play Value
The campaign provides the core experience, despite being somewhat linear. The scenario and multiplayer features allow for replayability, but limiting battles to just 1 vs. 1 seems limiting.
3.2
Overall Rating - Fair
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.

Game Features:

  • Two Perspectives – Play through two single-player campaigns: lead the Crusaders or the Saracens.
  • Historical Battles – Fight the most important battles of the age through episodic missions.
  • Detailed Unit Controls – Individual morale system for each unit, manage them between missions, and field them based on the terrain and weather conditions to your advantage in combat.
  • Multiplayer–Fight multiplayer battles against each other (available for two players).


  • Screenshots / Images

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