King's Bounty: The Legend - PC - Review
The retro RPG makes a strong return in this season's classic-styled RPG King's Bounty. I seem to recall similarly paced titles in my youth and the good folks at Atari have put forth the effort to bring back some retro and new gameplay in a game that harkens back to a time when 8-mb games ruled the Commodore 64. Either way, the game has some good things going for it, regardless of the bad things...
In King's Bounty, you play as one of three character classes, the Paladin, the Mage and the Warrio. As with pretty much every RPG ever made involving these character classes, you will understand that the warrior can only wield weapons, the mage only magic and the Paladin a mixture of the two. But to balance everything out, the mage will have the strongest magic, the warrior the most powerful melee attacks and the paladin, a mixture of the two that equals pretty much the best of the either two character classes. Its sounds more complicated than it is, so just go with me on it. Naturally, I picked the paladin, because when I was a kid playing D&D, I always went with the paladin or ranger-type characters, it fit me in all my geeky glory. From there, you will enter a very wild and dangerous world. Now I say this because the game does not follow the escalating difficulty path that many RPGs follow. Rather, you could run into monsters roaming the world who could sneeze and tear you apart. This is no walk in the park.
"It's Sir Reginald LeJacque, the effeminate leader of the Flowing White Cape guild!"
The story itself is a bit on the shifty side and easily the worst part of the game. The premise involves a kingdom that once had its glory days but now things aren't so great. The King, desperate for a hero to arrive looks to you to help rid the recent surge of evil doers and monsters that have been plaguing the land. But its more than that, you will need to discover the source of the recent evil and help the kingdom reclaim its former glory. Oh, and there is some sort of nonsense about the King's daughter being from the heavens. By the way, the game also has several glaring typos in the text that you read
Interestingly enough, as you venture out in your travels, you will begin picking up soldiers that act sort of as a mini-mercenary army. These disposable fighters are directly related to the game and when brought into battle they will die and you will need to find and hire additional forces in order to continue on. Now, in an ironic twist, there is only a certain amount of fighters to be found in any given location - meaning, you can literally run out of support staff in a rough part of the world and really be up the creek. Now you do have the ability to avoid combat, as you will see roaming baddies and can identify them by right clicking and identifying if they are something you want to tangle with or not. And to make matters worse, even if you flee a battle you get involved in that you know you can't win, you can count on some casualties as hired muscle will also get killed in the retreat.
"Don't you hate it when you stumble into the wrong neighborhood?"
However, it is important to mention that the game just doesn't allow you to command only humans and elves and other humanoid characters. You can get vampires, demons and all sorts of other monsters to hop in the battle and do your bidding. It is really quite cool when you start getting out there and exploring and start finding these awesomely powerful creatures just waiting to be led into battle. Fight evil with evil in this game.
In addition, there is a character attribute section that allows you to improve on the three base abilities, might, magic and mind. Each one of these attributes is tied with the actual stats that will be affected, for instance, Might, affects your strength, defense and such, where Magic boosts your spell casting abilities and Mind affects intelligence, how well you are received by NPCs and how much money you can get in your travels.
"Why does everybody tile their kitchens in the octogon patterns?"
I like the old-school/new-age look the game has going for it, the hexagon grid that appears in the battlefield coupled with a wild three-headed dragon/turtle thingy straight outta an 80's movie. The graphics are clean, and while not cutting edge, they do a good job of making sure you know you are in a fantasy world. I enjoyed how all characters look the part with the different armor or magical glow, it really made me miss my Sega Saturn RPGs. Bright colors pop off the screen and a decent amount of character design in the monsters is consistent throughout.
The music on the game kind of doesn't quite reach standard. Oh sure, there are the sounds of magic ramping up and the echo of battle, but it feels restrained and unfulfilling. The hero music is all too familiar but seems to make the game feel a bit more in place, the audio is nothing to write home about.
However, the sound and graphics will fade to the rear when the game's strong point, the fighting system, comes into play. Using the hired muscle to move and attack on the battlefield grid is a pure pleasure as you use strategy and cunning to usurp your foes. Standing towards the back, you can launch magical attacks and really light up your enemies. I personally will always have an affinity for turn-based RPGs and this one does not disappoint with its really deep combat system. There's even treasure chests and such that appear mid battle that can help or hurt you when you open them. Commanding your minions to take moves around the grid, kind of like a chess game, the well laid-out battlefields, the varied attacks you can get when you start really loading up your troops ... I can't do it justice, just know that the game's fighting is really well done.
Review Scoring Details for King's Bounty The Legend
Really a great fighting system for an RPG, moving around the world via horseback is also pretty cool. Games like this are so much more fun when the developers really tune up the controls.
The character models are always a pleasure to look at and I have to say make finding new soldiers to fight for you a bit more interesting.
It could have benefited from a serious beefing up in the sound-effect department.
Whew, this one is a serious challenge even for a veteran RPG player, you just never know when a big-time baddie is going to engage you (if you can't avoid it); even selecting the default setting can be daunting. Expect to adventure for a good long time.
The plot is somewhat disappointing, but the in-game action makes up for it; the faster you get to the action the better.
Even with the lower standard of graphics and sound, the game is still above board in the fun department. I really like this title and thank it deserves some big time praise for bringing back the cool in single-player RPGs.