|System: PC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: 1C Company||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: Aug. 25, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-4||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Nathan Meunier
Ruling a kingdom is an inherently complex business that's made even more taxing when you throw rampaging dragons, bands of undead creatures, unruly demons, and giant ogres into the fray. Expanding your borders under such dangerous circumstances requires a well-oiled regime. But imagine the struggle you'd likely endure in facing deadly adversaries if you couldn't exert your kingly influence over your citizens and armies directly. How could you possibly motivate your forces to obey your command? Well, you could always try flinging gobs of money around.
Majesty 2: The Fantasy Kingdom Sim initially looks like just about any other average fantasy real-time strategy game out there. You'll find there are many familiar activities to engage in, like erecting important buildings, hiring units, upgrading abilities, expanding your kingdom, exploring foggy maps, and defeating swarms of foes. However, there's a catch: you can't directly control any of your units. This was a unique and challenging concept the original game received high marks for almost a decade ago. With a facelift and a few new features, the formula still feels new and exciting in this long-awaited sequel.
The good land of Ardania has been graced with a long line of heroic kings who've carved out their lot in the annals of history through brave campaigns filled with monster slaying and glorious conquest. Unfortunately for King Leonard, who also yearns to be revered by the peasants long after he passes, his rule comes at a particularly boring and uneventful time in the realm. Seeking to whip up some trouble worth conquering, Leonard and his wizardly advisors summon the most reviled demon from hell for him to slay. This moronic move leads to his untimely demise and sends the land into a tailspin. With the demonic lord now in rule and legions of evil creatures now roaming about, it's time for you to step up to the plate and show him who's boss.
A subtle-yet-sharp sense of humor starts Majesty 2 off on the right track. The unusual scenarios that preface each map in the campaign are delivered by an advisor who sounds like Sean Connery, and there's a lot of tongue-in-cheekiness spooned in here and there. In most missions, you'll start out on the map with just a palace and gradually work to balance your expanding kingdom by constructing income-generating buildings and guild houses to train an assortment of warriors for your army. Quests will require you to send forces outward into the realm to explore and conquer, and local evil creatures will take it upon themselves to be a thorn in your side early on. In motion, this all might look and feel very mundane, if it weren't for the fact this RTS/simulation hybrid throws you for a loop. Not being able to directly control your warriors completely changes up the gameplay and requires a different set of strategizing skills.
The citizens of your kingdom will roam around and go about their business. Tax collectors will visit homes to pick up the rent, royal guards will march around on patrol with their large pikes, trade caravans driven by donkeys will plod along their routes, and swordsmen will stop on by the nearby tavern for a brew if they feel so inclined. You won't have to pay much attention to the commoners who mostly keep to themselves and attempt to repair damaged buildings as needed. On the other hand, the ever-important combat-capable units must be lured into their duties with promises of financial gain. This less-than-altruistic approach to unit management is as funny as it is fun to play around with.