|System: X360 (XBLA), PC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: NinjaBee||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: NinjaBee||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Nov. 19, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-4||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Amanda L. Kondolojy
Ever since the original SimCity series, it seems a whole genre of games have cropped up around construction. Titles like MySims and World of Goo focus almost exclusively on being able to put things together and building structures, and it seems that gamers just can't get enough of building and creating things. A Kingdom for Keflings takes several notes from these types of games, but instead of creating specific structures, you are charged with building a whole kingdom!
You play as a giant version of yourself, and are able to order around the much-smaller Keflings. The game starts off rather simply, with only a handful of Keflings and a single structure that can turn raw wood and stone into simplistic structures. These structures must be placed in a certain order to create specific buildings. For instance, if you place a bedroom, hearth, and storage structure in the right order according to a blueprint, these three structures will change into a house, which will bring more Keflings.
Although the game starts off quite simply, the gameplay becomes intricate very quickly. As you go on, you will need to create special facilities for refining resources, and you will need Keflings for transporting raw materials to these facilities. You will also be able to create advancement facilities for Keflings, where they can become educated or learn a special trade. Although construction is the game's main mechanic, as you progress, your main goal will be to organize the little creatures into a functioning society complete with governing figures, manual laborers, and academics.
The main building mechanic is simple enough, but the real challenge in this game comes from keeping up with your own organization. While it seems simple enough to keep track of a dozen Keflings, once you pass the twenty-citizen mark, it becomes quite difficult to remember who is filling what job. One area where this title comes up a little short is in the organization department. Short of writing everything down yourself, it is very hard to keep track of all the different Kefling occupations. When assigning tasks for new residents (or changing one's profession), it can be difficult to know what positions are over-filled and which ones need more help. For instance, I frequently employed too many transporters, but not enough laborers, so I ended up with long lines of transporters waiting for a single laborer to bring a natural resource to a processing plant.
But as long as you can keep your Keflings straight and avoid assigning too many Keflings to any single task, this game is thoroughly enjoyable. It uses a blueprint map with many tiered levels to drive the game's progress. Each building (or group of buildings) you create will unlock a new class of structures, which will have more complex materials and require new Keflings. The difficulty isn't that intense, but completing the master blueprint and unlocking all the different buildings will take between ten and fifteen hours, which is pretty respectable for a downloadable title.
In addition to playing all by yourself, A Kingdom for Keflings also has support for online co-op for up to four friends. The co-op mode goes noticeably faster than just playing solo, so if you are looking to burn through this title in less than five hours, then the co-op mode is perfect for you.
One of the most interesting aspects of A Kingdom for Keflings is it's one of the first titles to use your Xbox 360 avatar as an integral part of the game. Although this mechanic is completely extraneous to the actual gameplay, it definitely adds to the initial fun of the game. Playing as your avatar won't get you any special benefits, but it does make the game feel more personal, which is definitely a good thing.