Kingdom Under Fire: Heroes Xbox Review
A few years back, we would have thought that superior technology would be requisite to see masses of detailed soldiers battling it out, complete with an acceptable frame-rate and with amazingly pretty graphics. It turns out that we were wrong as last years Kingdom Under Fire: The Crusaders did all this with little problems to speak of, which is testament to just how powerful the Xbox is.
Amazingly, its sequel: Kingdom Under Fire: Heroes looks better still, with even more units on the screen at a time (260 to be exact, wow) although technical limitations, mean the horizon is still hidden by fog to mask the dreaded popup. Nonetheless, these large scale battles are stunningly beautiful with many things often going on at a time, such as archers raining down arrows on their enemy, Paladins using healing spells and you in the middle of it all hacking-and-slashing. It’s almost like the next generation has come early.
Ok, enough with salivating about the stunning visuals and lets talk about, you know the game in question, because as it happens, it’s a pretty good one.
Kingdom Under Fire: The Crusaders was a unique marriage of Dynasty Warriors style hack-and-slash and RTS style strategic elements. Heroes of course brings back this unique and well executed mix.
Upon starting the game you are able to choose from seven different characters, although some of these are locked to begin with. You can opt to play as humans, dark elves, vampires and orcs. Those who played The Crusaders will recognise some of the playable characters such as Rupert and Ellen, whilst characters that were playable in the last game such as Gerald may no longer be selectable, they do however still make appearances throughout the story.
Strategy is of great importance in this game, with meticulous planning required for the placement of units, bearing in mind that units such as archers perform at their apex on the higher terrain, with their backs turned to the sun, whilst cavalry should keep their distance from spearmen, unless they want impaled on their spears that is, dumbed down strategy this is not.
It’s only when your leaders unit engages the enemy that you take a more hands on approach, you’ll be granted direct control over your character allowing you to slice your way through the enemies in a Dynasty Warriors like fashion, no strategy needed here as battering the buttons like a madman works wonderfully well. Each of the seven characters possesses their own unique fighting styles as well as special abilities. We found that characters such as Walter were a bit unexciting to play as in comparison to say Ellen or Leinhart, but with so many characters on offer, this is to be expected and of course personal preference has a big say in this.
In between missions, you are often able to purchase new equipment, hire mercenaries, or use any acquired exp from previous missions to strengthen them, furthermore, just as long as they meet the required criteria, you are able to even change the class of any unit, for example transforming the rather weedy infantry in to the mighty paladins, who are not only strong in the physical sense, but also possess rather useful healing spells. It can take time getting the strongest classes, but you’ll soon realise it was well worth the effort once you witness them wreaking havoc on the battlefield.
You are going to need them too as on occasion the game can be punishably hard, being unforgiving of poor unit placement and just seemingly expecting miracles from you. This is made all the more unreasonable by the lack of any form of mid level save or checkpoint system and when you think that some missions can be about an hour long, this is simply and utterly unfair and without doubt one of the games primary flaws. This game is so unbelievably evil that it may very well have you on your knees and begging for your life, just don’t expect any form of mercy from it.
Heroes is a massive game, completing all seven campaigns will give you a total game time that rivals most RPGS and even after you’ve managed this massively challenging undertaking, there’s still always the online multiplayer to entertain you.
Or at least there should be.
Sadly due to few people playing it, we can’t recommend the game to those who are looking for a good online multiplayer title. It’s a shame too, as there are some nice ideas here, particularly the invasion mode, which requires you and two other players to protect a castle against an endless swarm of AI enemies as well as the fact that just like the single player mode, you’ll gain exp with which you can improve your online army with.
Kingdom Under Fire: Heroes is recommended to those who enjoy Dynasty Warriors as well as those who yearn for a similar, but more cerebral offering. If not for the disappointing multiplayer and at times ludicrous difficulty, we would have recommended it even more heartily and perhaps gave an additional point to its final score. Nonetheless this is brilliant and we look forward to seeing what sort of magic the developers conjure up in the coming generation.