Kingdom Under Fire: The Crusaders

Overview

It’s not every day that the gaming world is given a game that attempts to do more then one thing within a game. Normally these types of games end up giving gamers a pretty lackluster experience, but will this be the case with Microsoft’s latest attempt to combine the strategy and hack and slash action genres into one game? Well they will attempt to in Kingdom Under Fire: The Crusaders for the Microsoft Xbox? Is this a sleeper hit, or one that we can just let pass us by? Read on to find out.

Gameplay

We all know the Real Time Strategy genre is one of the most popular genres for the PC, and never has been as successful on the consoles as they could. So the developers Phantagram took the unsuccessful RTS genre on the consoles and combined it with the popular hack and slash genre to make a game that actually makes for a whole new Action RTS that I think will really start to catch on. So is this the game to make the new genre catch on?

Although the backstory behind the game isn’t all that prevalent, it does keeps the game flowing in a pretty smooth manner. The main frenzy involved in Kingdom Under Fire is the dispute between Humans and the Dark Legion, which consists of Orcs and monsters such as that. The game really makes for a pretty typical RTS storyline, which doesn’t have a major impact on the game but does enough to keep you interested throughout. The games story takes place with a lot of written dialogue and some short cut scenes, which enhances the overall gaming experienced offered in the game.

Kingdom Under Fire is a game that really tries to attempt to bring a lot more strategy into a Dynasty Warriors type of setting, creating a game that really attempts to have a lot more depth then other games on the market today. Let’s start with the weaker side of Kingdom Under Fire, which is the combat itself, which makes for a pretty basic hack and slash style game. Your main character in the game has only a few default moves and some extra special moves along the way. This leads to a lot of button mashing and an overall experience that in a stand alone game would have amounted to absolutely nothing. But now comes to kicker, along with this comes a heavy load of strategy, which makes these sequences all the more rewarding.

You start off getting plenty of customizable options which leads to you deciding the type of equipment and different strategies and such for battle. This can become a key element of the game, which leads us to even more engaging gameplay. Because once you hit the battlefield you still have a lot of RTS elements in which you still need to take care of. The options on the field are up to you, whether you want to engage in combat or not relies solely on your decision making process. For the most part the information given to you before the battle will give you "helpful" hints on what is supposed to take place on the field of battle.

I was really quite impressed with how the developers combined the two genres and made it into one very accessible game. They managed to do a very solid job of commanding your troops around to a very easy concept. The game consists of four separate campaigns, two of which is available at the start of the game, and two others that can be unlocked later on. This may not seem like much, but then the developers tried to boost their appeal by adding Xbox Live support, which on paper would make this in my eyes one of the more attractive Live titles out there. So does the Live play out to its full potential?

On paper all the features for making a solid Xbox Live title out of this game would be there but the execution really isn’t. From my experiences on Live they have really been a mixed bag, ranging from mostly poor at decently average gameplay. For the most part I found that the lag really dampened the experience and made this Live title not as good as it could have been.

Overall Kingdom Under Fire really has a new genre that I really think will be quite popular in the coming years especially with the new consoles lined up for next year, I could see this game really playing out well with new technology behind it. With that being said there is still a ton of great stuff to be found in this game, but unfortunately it does come with some minor flaws as well.

Graphics

With all of this gameplay action, can the graphics really keep up with its fair share of the deal? And the simple answer to that is yes.

The graphics of Kingdom Under Fire really are one of the best parts of the game, but at the same time I still think the animation could have used a little more work in the long run. Kingdom Under Fire is a game that offers a whole lot of action going on in one location, which could have cause problems, but luckily for us, the game doesn’t do all that bad. There are some times where the game you can see has a little trouble keeping up, but for the most part it’s good. The character models in the game are actually quite good with a steady amount of detail and plenty of color to them. By far the most impressive part of the game are the vast environments which span pretty wide and give you a wide array of areas in which to take your troops in.

Overall the look of Kingdom Under Fire is actually quite impressive. Besides some of the minor graphical hiccups, the game performs at a very solid rate.

Fun Factor

You know being a RTS fan like I am, I really have been looking forward to this game, and for the most part it didn’t let me down. Putting the poor Live experience aside, the game is really quite good combining a heavy dose of both action and strategy into one game, makes for an extremely enjoyable experience. Having four different campaigns to go through makes for a game that most will just have a blast playing through with quite a bit of depth in the strategy department. Although the hack and slash action is pretty much just mindless button mashing, the ability to use strategy to get your troops in good positions and then being able to play it out on the screen is just a blast.

Overall

Kingdom Under Fire: The Crusaders is just a solid game all around. Although it’s not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, it does enough in all aspects to make for an enjoyable experience. Any Strategy enthusiast looking for a new Xbox game should put a lot of consideration into picking up Kingdom Under Fire as it really is quite extraordinary.

The owner and editor-in-chief of Darkstation.com. I've been apart of the website since 2002 and purchased the website in 2010. Owning and running Darkstation is a dream come true. I love video games and I love writing and talking about them even more.