"A good game is like a fine wine: It gets better with age, although it has an acquired taste." - Fortune Cookie in 'Kingdom Under Fire: Circle Of Doom' -
With two similarly solid games behind them, Blue Side Studios felt the need to release a fresher version of KUF, this time for the Xbox 360 and bewilderingly, ignoring the majority of the fan base by removing all real time strategy elements that made the past two games so good. So what is left? There are 3 familiar faces amongst the playable characters, with ecclesian holy madman Kendal, dark prince of Vellond Leinhart and the immortal king of Hexter beast Regnier all returning. In addition to the favourite guys comes a gal known as Celine, the only controllable female option with superior speed and low health (in the same vain as Leinhart).
"How does one atone for his sin?"
Those who played (and completed) either or both KUF games will know the situation that has unfolded for this sequel - The Lord of Darkness, Encablossa has sought revenge for his counterparts (Nibel) refusal to surrender his reign over the world for the next few hundred years and plagued hordes of demonic creatures upon the world to reclaim it. The end of KUF: Heroes especially features an FMV of these events and showing several characters lost in the darkness that has been unleashed - this darkness transforms into another dimension, absorbing key players and throwing them into another world that is surprisingly lacking in originality. The 3 characters are legitimately involved as both Regnier and Kendal's forces are said to have defeated Encablossa (with Leinhart aiding Regnier) causing the dimensional breach. The endings of the first games were disappointing, with brief anti-climaxes that are far too over the top, even for stories concerning orcs and vampires. So the only thing that could be done was create the spacey, magical world, departing from the traditional medieval dark ages that suit the exploits of elves and dwarves perfectly. You get the choice of the 4 characters to roam through the game, with light conversations revealing more details on the histories of your choice. The only real objective of the game would be to get the hell out of there... because it blows.
X, A... A, A, A
Without the strategic creation, upgrading and placement of troops to concern yourself with, the only thing left is the combat that was half heartedly featured in the original games which had a fair impact on battles. This time around the combat is simplified and mind numbingly boring. Press A to swing your main weapon, press it again to swing it back, again to swing in a new direction, again and again and again. X isn't much better either using a secondary weapon for range like a canon or bow. Dynasty Warriors combat system is only slightly better than this rubbish.. its all about stringing together weapon attacks and combos so's not to get hit by enemies and quickly dispose of your victims. There is no blocking, only dodging which is actually a dash. Eventually as you progress through the game you can learn new abilities from your dreams, WOW! Thats right, a withered old man is willing to teach you new abilities if you pay penance.. All you need to do is complete his little scavenger hunt (kill specific numbers of specific enemies) and of course put up with his non stop demeaning attitude. These abilities are almost completely useless. Sure you can learn to shoot lightning, land a knockout punch or heal yourself but its all the same outcome wrapped up in a more fancy package. You have a health, special and luck bar - three things that are upgraded upon levelling up. Health appears unnecessary as the game is very simple and easy, whilst special takes time to acquire as it fuels your attacks and recovery speed. Luck would be based on the type of items dropped by enemies - most of which is just scrap worth selling instead of filling up your limited inventory space. You can assign items to the bumpers which is alright (mainly used for health and SP potions).
Forest of Embracing Boredom
Appearances are everything for this game, including a selling point because beyond the glistening environments, overly epic screenshots and misleading trailers, lies the dire truth. Your surroundings are appealing pathways through flowering forests, murky swamps, dust desert ruins, magnificent mansions and generally pretty landscapes. However, they are all extremely linear (Final Fantasy 13's maps) with only a handful of side areas that don't vary or offer anything but more enemies. The creatures in this crazy dimension are largely lizards, skeletons and plants that equip spears and staffs to occasionally stab you with. The dull enemies unfortunately contain the majority of the games point - they drop items to equip, sell and synthesize, they give you experience to level up, they must be killed to learn new moves and sometimes explode or have interesting death poses.. Set in the beginning, middle and end of levels are the idols who buy, sell and synthesize your goods.. sort of like a merchant. At these points you can also go to sleep to acquire and learn new abilities from the old man in the lame dream world. Its basically a safe zone where the game automatically saves and has no enemies. Throughout these levels, the background score plods along nicely, especially when not encountering any fights. Sometimes you get subtle piano concertos, sometimes its based on the type of area you're in - a swamp would be a trudging, slugging melody. Each set of levels has around 3 maps to slowly jog through and at the end, sometimes, is a boss - the ONLY time the battles become interesting thanks to the different approach, visual and surroundings.
Buy, Sell & Synthesize
The Idols who provide you their service's are interesting to look at with the idol of death who is essentially a Grim reaper (he has the best goods that can increase your EXP, give you additional slots etc), Idol of Love is some fancy young lady and Idol of Greed who is a golden Buddha. Most of your items found on your journey are best sold for money to buy the services of the Idol of Death but I suppose Synthesis can keep you busy.. Synthesis is the chance to combine two items to create a better one, at the cost of the items used and some money to up the success rate of such a creation. You can do this about a hundred times to one item but yields almost no benefit whatsoever as most items would weaken your favourites. The weapons and accessories you can alter via this method have only a few stats to improve -health, SP or SP recovery and/or consumption. So even the slight customizing aspect is as hollow as the skellingtons you cut to ribbons. Strangely, the creators decided to put in little amusing clothing items to equip on your serious looking fiend. Hats, jewellery and other arbitrary goods. Such a shame as when I bought this game, I was well aware of the poor reputation the game had but unaware that the custom choices were severely lacking as well.
So as I read out the line from my in game fortune cookie - I knew right away what it was saying. It was trying to act as if it was a genuinely good game that only video game aficionados could appreciate. But its clearly not, perhaps that was a desperate attempt at humor? If KUF Circle Of Doom was really a wine it would scrunch up the face with its sour, disgusting taste, make you sneeze at its gross aroma but still get you drunk if you down that crap.. and still give you the worst regrettable hangover.
To categorize this game, I would call it a hack-em-up. Similar in essence to a beat em up, except all you do is hit things with an axe or sword or similar medieval style weapon.
Literally, that's all you do.
To give it another name, I would go with boring.
Don't misunderstand, I like this style of game, it is very reminiscent of Koei's Dynasty Warriors franchise, you play one character and move through hordes of enemies just cleaving anything in your path. But there is also a huge difference. Dynasty Warriors, or indeed ANY of Keoi's Warriors franchise games are all battle settings, you have battle objectives 'capture this base' or 'kill that leader' etc and each battle ground is pretty much entirely open and a battle last 5 or 10 minutes tops, meaning you are in, fighting, out and upgrading your character ready for the next battle all in swift timing. Plus, the Warriors games are the ultimate in car crash gaming, you just sit back and mash the buttons whilst chatting to a friend, or watching a film on your laptop (like I do), it doesn't require any thought.
Kingdom under fire is the antithesis of all these things. It's even an antithesis of itself in a way. Let me explain.
Kingdom underfire was originally an RTS/RPg Hybrid on the PC. The RTS was as much as you'd expect of the time, very similar to age of empires and Warcraft. The RPG elements were very much Diablo/Baldurs Gate.
Then the series was revamped for the Xbox with 2 games that focussed purely on the RTS side, but instead of being like traditional base building isometric RTS games, this was much more like Dynasty Warriors, you controlled a character, could order troops around and got stuck in actually fighting things. Both of them were truly awesome games.
Then this donkey shows up, and let me tell you, this is one Ass you really, truly want to kiss goodbye.
It maintains the Dynasty Warriors stylings of 1 person against countless enemies, but everything else is just badly made. The game requires far too much thought, the crafting and upgrading of weapons is highly intricate, which isn't a bad thing when the game itself is worth the trade off, but this isn't, you just want a quick and simple method of customizing your weapons and armour, then get on with the fighting.
The game is seperated into levels all of which look exactly the same and are far far far too long. They are also all incredibly linear, so much so that your minimap is not so much a guide to where you are as it is simply to beat you in the head saying 'hahahaha you must be thick, there's only one way to go and your looking at me to find it'.
This game just doesn't know what it wants to be, and as such it fails to be anything but bad. It wants to be an intelligent combat game, but the core gameplay is basic, redundant and unappealing. It also wants to be a great mindless hack-em-up, except some elements of the game are actually quite taxing, added to the levels being linear, long and unchanging, and as such it is too much work for the mindless hack-em-up that the Warriors games do so well.
There just isn't anything to recommend this game.
However all is not lost as the developers have said that the next KuF game is going back to the battleground system used in the two games on the original Xbox. Rejoice!
So ignore this one and play wait for that to really experience this series at its best.
I recently stumbled across this game whilst searching through the bargain bucket of blockbuster and thought well to be honest it looked like a good Rpg to waste time untill the newer high market games are released. Naturally i wanted to check out the CO-OP mode so i made a friend get it and we played through the campaign and expierianced every aspect of the game.
Kingdom under fire gives you the option of the generic junior Rpg choices such as the slow but do more damage guy or the fast, agile ranged attack expert and so forth. The characters are either good or evil and are looking to combat the evil dimensions and destroy the dark and perserve the age of light and in vice versa some are looking to enhance them self to become the strongest and most evil leader in the dimensions. (kind of reminds me of Mortal Kombat hmmm) The story line is well kind of a cliche' but progresses like a next gen RPG should. Howver it doesn't grip you in as much as it could which is a big let down because when provided with the choice of oblivion and this well it's just to easy to make a decision (OBLIVION) Overall i would give the story line a 6/10 due to its Generic development and lack of gripping capability.
The Graphics are good but lack key details. The character design is very good, facial expressions, facial detail and armour and weapon detail help the game run smooth but can cause fps lag = O. The graphics however on the background and foreground for example the foliage and lava and water is just terrible, every thing has sharp edges and well doesnt even look like they have tried to improve it. This is very alarming to see because with the Next-Gen consoles you expect to see breathtaking scenery lyk that expierianced in mass effect. Overral i would give this game a 5/10 for graphics because where the graphicls are stunning on the armour the scenery is just a joke.
Gameplay is alot more strategic in this Rpg due to the nature of the SP bar, this is like a universal bar that is both spell/fatigue. It can become very tiresome when your fatigue is constantly low and you cant pull off certain 5 hit combo's. The movement is quite blocky in the sense that your character is quite restricted espescially because the camera angle repetitively keeps changing. Learning spells requires you to constantly go through the same level like 5 times just kill a certain number of enemies. It's a nice idea but it just makes the game boring and non progressive. Weapons and armour on this game is just simply breathtaking there are numerous combinations of enchantments and types of weapon it is just a pleasure to be a hoarder and keep every item you find. A cool factor is the idea of synthesising weapons and armour to mix or upgrade enchantments. The striking movent is a little restricted and hits on the enemy can be buggy at times. Overall i give the gameplay and controls a 6/10 because there is a high amount of weapons and armours to be found, the customisation is impressive and the controls generally arent that bad.
Sounds are important to games but in this game... tut tut tut they just got lazy to be honest with you. The same repetitive music track on loop for each level which im not sure about you, just pops viens all over my neck. Every type of enemy has a unique voice and the characters do too but the voices are sometimes either dubbed out of sync or just bug out and all you hear is silence. overall the sound in the game is just terrible and only deserves a 3/10
One key factor of this game is the mystery random generated maps, this keeps the levels refreshed but sadly without the refreshment of scenery im just not impressed. Generally its an ok game but lacks so many things that are seen in its rival RPGs.
Graphics 5 /10
Gameplay and controls 6/10
This game as xbox live capability which consists of only co-op mode.
It starts off with easy-normal-hard and then develops even more insanly hard difficulties on completion, so if your not a hardcore gamer or a person who hasnt got a lot of time on there hands i would recommend you try a different game because to be honest all this game really should be is a bargain bucket game. (its ok but not great)