Kingdom Under Fire: Heroes

By Scott Parrino 04 Jan 2006 0

INTRODUCTION

Have you ever wanted to command legions of faithful troops while simultaneously dealing death blows to your opponents with cold hard steel or magic? You say you have, but you?ve already done it dozens of times over? Are you looking for something different? Then this could be the game for you. Kingdom Under Fire: Heroes combines medieval fantasy role-playing hack n' slash with real-time strategy and a healthy dose of heavy metal. Think of it as J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings meets Medieval Total War meets A Knight's Tale. Kingdom Under Fire: Heroes is a unique game wrapping all of these elements into a package that will appeal to fans of action, adventure and strategy genres.

Plot & Presentation

Phantagram and Blue Side Studio's Kingdom Under Fire: Heroes is a stand-alone prequel to last year's Kingdom Under Fire: Crusaders set in the fictional medieval continent of Bersia (not to be confused with Persia). Bersia?s inhabitants include: elves, dark elves, ogres, orcs, humans, and half vampires.

Walter, an Ecclesian Human

Crispy critters below

The plot can be a bit confusing, so follow along closely. The Bersian continent is engulfed in a conflict known as the Encablossa War. A faction made up of dark elves and half-vampires from the kingdom of Vellond, as well as orcs and ogres originating in the land of Hexter, make up the Dark Legion. Together they formed an uneasy alliance to battle the human kingdoms of Ecclesia and Hironden. The human alliance has their moments of bickering and conflict, too.

Players choose one of seven heroes, from either the Human Alliance or Dark Legion, to command in a campaign of five to ten missions each. Only three heroes are available initially. The other four are unlocked once certain campaigns are completed. The hero (the player) will both lead troops and melee against opposing armies. Along the way, mysteries surrounding the war are revealed in short sequences.

Heroes' arcade style, button-mashing 3D action sequences are from a third-person top-down perspective that allows the player to zoom in and out and rotate the in game camera. A simple battle map, the mini-map, can be brought up during the action mode. While engaged in battle, there are tactical combat decisions to be made. When the player leaves the battlefield, the world map appears where the story primarily unfolds. Players are directed, per the storyline, to move to bases, castles, or camps. Hero and troop management are then accomplished. Players can also eavesdrop on troops and hire mercenaries at the local pub.

Documentation

The documentation is one of the weakest aspects of this game. The manual is 33 pages long and does not include much of what I consider crucial to understanding game play. Worse yet, some of the information is wrong. On page19 of the manual, listed under "Learning Game Information," one finds this: ?You can learn basic information about the game at the training center. Check out the Tutorials to learn about movements and tactics. You also can press (Y) anywhere to access a detailed Help message.? There is no training center or tutorials in Heroes. These however, were present in Kingdom Under Fire: Crusaders. The only thing approximating a tutorial is the human alliance?s Ellen campaign. It is not spelled out that players should try Ellen?s campaign first. Players are left to assume it is a tutorial campaign simply because it is by far the easiest and offers the most on screen help.

Due to the game?s complexity, the manual could have contained enough information to make a small hardbound book. Unfortunately, it is loaded with extraneous information about the different characters biographies and the somewhat confusing storyline. It glosses over the important aspects of the game. For example, it would have been helpful to see a more elaborate explanation of how to level up armies. There is a job tree included in the game, but this should have been placed in the manual.

Walter and his troops battle Dark Elves

The Encablossa War

To make matters worse, there are several attack moves available to heroes that aren?t addressed in the game manual. The only place I could find this information, in any semblance of detail, was on the game?s official website. The website is a good source of game related information and I would highly recommend it to anyone interested in Heroes. It is actually spelled out on the website that by pressing different buttons with the (L) mini joystick results in a custom attack. Each character has about seven to ten different character specific maneuvers or combos. For instance, by pressing (A) (A) on the Xbox controller Ellen (an Ecclesian Captain) unleashes the ?eagle slasher,? a high-flying taekwondo kick. When controlling Urukubarr (a Dark Legion Ogre Chieftain), pressing (X)(X)(X) on the controller delivers a bone crushing ?atomic swing.? The little helper screens periodically appearing on screen, with a couple combo buttons and a diagram, are too subtle and nearly impossible to keep up with.

As a final challenge, the game is riddled with typos and poor grammar. When the game first starts, a long introduction scrolls down the screen, giving the history behind the story. The story explains how Hexter is ?engulped in war.? Further down, ?they could not account for every single posssibilities.? While these obvious errors add to the frustration of the documentation, the grammatical mistakes are forgivable given the game?s Korean origin.

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