Advantages Long campaigns; some unique twists on the genre; immense battles
Disadvantages Buggy as hell; pathfinding stinks; no skirmish mode; no difficulty settings
|Difficulty & Complexity|
It’s an all-too-familiar refrain in gaming — a promising game is released with more bugs than the local Taco Emporium, and quickly vanishes into the bargain bin. In the case of Warrior Kings, an RTS from Black Cactus, this scenario is all the more painful given that, despite the bugs and problems, it’s pretty fun. One can only imagine how awesome it might have been had it been properly polished and tested before release.Set in a medieval fantasy world, Warrior Kings chronicles the exploits of Artos, the proverbial young prince who must conquer and reunite his father’s former kingdom. The game’s 22 levels are split between three civilization types — Pagans, Imperials, and Renaissance.
As the tale unfolds, you’ll be presented with a variety of choices and options, like helping an old hag or accepting the gift of technology. Each of the choices impacts the campaign you’ll play and decides your civilization alignment for the remainder
of that game.
Creating a diverse army is key. If you just pump out spearmen, for example, enemy archers will chew you to pieces. While the battles are massive (not to mention fun), controlling the action can be a royal pain. The pathfinding is complete crap, and unlike Age of Empires II, in which you could group multiple unit types into one formation that moved at the same speed, units here are grouped strictly by type. In other words, all of your spearmen move together, all of your archers move together, and so on. This setup makes fielding and manipulating a large army a nightmare of micro-management.Like other RTS games, Warrior Kings has you collecting food, wood, and stone, but in a nice twist, you must establish supply lines and ferry resources from your outlying villages to your main manor. You also need to store enough food to feed your troops, even after they’re created.
With over 20 multiplayer maps, you’d expect more than just one game mode, the standard “destroy the enemy” battle. Also missing is a skirmish mode — a must in RTS games.Folks with NVIDIA-based cards should steel themselves for some major problems, because Warrior Kings hates you. I had to try five different sets of drivers before the game would finally run properly (the 12.41 drivers eventually worked for me). Sorry, but such hassles are completely unacceptable, and make me want to vomit and cry.
Once the game is up and running, it suffers from long load times. Though the animation is a tad stiff, the 3D graphics do a good job of conveying the carnage.Beyond the problems with its graphics, Warrior Kings crashed regularly, and even locked up and rebooted my computer. I’m sure a patch will eventually correct these problems, but it’s shameful the game was released in this state, especially since it has so much potential — and such massive, involved battles.
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Combining real-time strategic action with the character development of your average role-playing experience seems to be the Holy Grail of strategy...
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