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 Post subject: Kingdom Under Fire: The Crusades |9/10| XBox
PostPosted: Fri Jan 04, 2008 5:13 am 
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Who knew an Elf wearing nothing but a shield and a thong could be so tough!

KUF:TC = Dynasty Warriors + Everything you ever wanted + Elves in thongs

I can’t recall how I heard about Kingdom Under Fire: The Crusades (KUF:TC). I also don’t know what force caused me to pick the game up, but whatever it was I’m grateful for it.

Kingdom Under Fire: The Crusades at first looks like a clone of Dynasty Warriors. In Dynasty Warriors, you play a hero from Chinese history who leads an army. Your hero pretty much single handily takes on the entire army of an opposing hero. There are hundreds of other troops on the battlefield with you, belonging to your army and your opponent’s army. Your troops as a whole are ineffectual, and their actions are primarily driven by triggered ‘stage events’. You often have a group of body guards that follow your character around, but the commands that you can give them are very limited. Essentially, in Dynasty Warrior, you play a single foot solider in a much larger battle with no real control over the tactics used in the battle. Your main goal is to hack and slash your way through your opponent’s soldiers racking up as high of a body count as you can until you reach your goal.

In KUF:TC, at first it seems you do pretty much the same thing. You fight an opposing army, and you hack and slash your way to fulfilling a preset goal. However, with Kingdom Under Fire, you have great control over those that make up your army. Your troops are not just random soldiers on the battlefield, but organized units that you can give orders to and control. There are also many different types of troops, and not all are combat soldiers. Utilizing these different types of troops correctly is the key to winning a battle, not just killing everything you see. At it’s core, KUF:TC is a mixture of a real time strategy game and a hack ‘n slash brawler. A very tasty mixture.

The Vitals:

Story: There are four different campaigns for you to play. Each is led by a different character with their own story to tell. The first two available campaigns are of a human fighter, and of an elven fighter. The human starts by investigating an attack on the borders of his kingdom, while the elven campaign starts by investigating a tomb.

The human campaign is the one that the game suggests that the player plays first. In it, you play Gerald, a talented commander that has yet to be promoted to the rank of general. In the opening scenes of his first mission he discovers a village that has been burned to the ground, apparently by a group for Vells (Dark elves). The Vells who are almost always female, run around nearly nekkid, wearing nothing but a thong, a tiny top, and carry a big ass shield. The human solders by comparison are fully decked out in armor, and still get whooped. Guess those human soldiers are distracted… Anyways, after Gerald chases off the attackers, he reports his findings back to his lord, Hugh. Hugh decides to strike back and Gerald’s forces have the honor of leading the assault.

Each campaign has a rich story that is told through a number of cut scenes, and pre-battle briefings. The cut scenes take place during the battle modes using the battle engine and do not appear to be pre-rendered.

Graphics and stage design: The graphics are very good for an Xbox game. The character models are well developed, and the game handles having many many many character models on screen without a hitch. The battlefields are always vast, lush, beautiful, and look very natural. Unlike Dynasty Warriors whose stages tended to be developed around the maze concept, most of the battle fields in Kingdom Under Fired really are fields: large expanses of grass or trees on which soldiers fight. The stages are very open, though you are given waypoints to help guide your way.

Sound: The sound and music in the game is excellent. The battles really sound like battles. You hear people screaming, shouting, and grunting. You hear the clash of weapons mixed in with the commentary of your comrades. The music is good, though it really doesn’t fit the fantasy theme. As you engage battle this hard rock tune starts playing, and while it serves its purpose of getting you pumped up for battle, it does seem a slight bit out of place.

The voice acting of all of the characters is superb. The only thing that annoyed me is that during the cut scenes on the battlefield, the lips of the characters are not synced to their speech. They talk with blank expressions, a minor annoyance really but one that sticks me every time I witness it. Still, the dialog is rich, strong, and well delivered.

Gameplay and Game modes: The controls work well, but take some getting used to. There are four different interface modes. When in town you give orders through the use of a menu system. You can practice leading your troops, go to the tavern and listen in on your soldiers, hire a mercenary, or rearrange how you have your troops organized. After your leave town, you go to a world map. On this map you select the destination where your troops are to go, usually to the location of your next battle.

Then you have your battle mode. The battle mode actually consists of two different modes: tactics and melee. Everything takes place on the battlefield, at the eye level of your commander. You do not go to a special window or map to give tactical commands. While you are in tactics mode, you decide what kind of formation your troops should use, tell them where to go and who to attack, and whether to use any special powers or abilities they may have. You have several different types of troop units you can command: infantry, archers, paladins, sappers, cavalry, and spearmen - just to name a few. Each has their own strengths and weaknesses and your success depends you learning how to harness those. Each unit can be given specific commands, and can operate separate from your main force. This is often useful in setting up traps and ambushes.

Melee mode is your standard hack and slash mode: press button, stab someone. You basically try to pummel all of your enemies to death, or try to defeat the leader which causes the enemy unit to disperse. While in melee mode, you charge up a special attack meter that allows you to do special attacks, or to call for help from your companions.

While the melee mode is pretty straight forth in how it works, the tactics mode can be a little confusing. Through play though, it becomes easy to master.

Kingdom Under Fire: The Crusades is a great mix of action and strategy. The graphics are superb, and the music is splendid. The controls work well, but may take you a little time to master. If you like Dynasty Warriors, buy this game. If you are not familiar with Dynasty Warriors, but like fantasy, action, or real time strategy games, I would suggest that you at least rent this game.

It is a beautiful game. Well executed, and well played.

And if you should chose to battle those nearly nekkid elves, I would suggest that you make sure you have your hand on the right sword.

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