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Review: King Arthur: Fallen Champions (PC)

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King Arthur: Fallen Champions (PC)

I would say I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with strategy games, but I’d be lying to you. We just met. I don’t want to do that. No, I’ve never liked strategy games much. Just couldn’t work ‘em. Too many buttons.

I only started playing Starcraft 2 with any regularity over the past couple of months, and my skills are shaky at best. Some would say that this makes me an awful candidate to review King Arthur: Fallen Champions. I would say it makes me the perfect choice. After all, if I can figure it out and enjoy it, so could anybody!

King Arthur: Fallen Champions is an RPG/RTS and serves as the connecting tissue between King Arthur I and King Arthur II, meant to bridge the story and satiate the appetites of the fans before the later comes out in Q1 next year. The game takes place across three separate campaigns, each three missions long, where the player takes control of one of three distinctly different heroes who all possess their own unique powers. Once all three campaigns are completed, the three heroes join together for a final battle. Those heroes can be upgraded with new skills and outfitted with artifacts found on the battlefield.

"Simple choices like this can have a big impact on the next mission."

In between missions, players work their way through mini text adventures where their choices determine things like how many and what type of units you take into battle. At certain points, those choices even grant or take away power from your character. It’s a really interesting alternative to the standard resource management/unit factory format of most RTS games, and is executed fairly well. Most of the time, however, I couldn’t help but feel that the “correct” choices were all too obvious. I was almost always rewarded for pushing situations or picking whatever seemed like the worst option. If faced with a choice between a dark abandoned hut or a quiet forest path leading into a meadow, of course I would choose the hut. Surprise! There’s an army in there, just waiting for you to lead them. In some cases, making certain choices prevents you from making other choices. For instance, during one sequence I convinced a small group of soldiers to follow me. Some time later, I ran into a rival group of soldiers and was forced to make a choice between the two.

Of course, the real bread and butter of the game takes place on the battlefield. While some missions have you simply pressing onward and taking on every unit in your path, other missions present you with slightly more complicated objectives such as storming a hill where a warlock is summoning an infinite number of ghost warriors, or sneaking past large armies with your outnumbered platoon. Still others have you capturing and holding key locations on a battlefield. On this point, the game does a great job. No mission felt like a cookie cutter copy of the last, and the choices I made in the adventure portion of the game forced me to play each mission a little differently. However, an RTS is only as good as its combat. This is where Fallen Champions stumbles.

As far as units go, the player has access to various types: archers, calvary, and various types of infantry. Each unit type has advantages and disadvantages against other unit types. The problem is that the units are way too small, making it hard to distinguish what type of unit you have selected. On numerous occasions I would accidentally send my archers in to meet an army of spearmen in toe-to-toe combat, or even cast a harmful spell on my own units.

"Hold me closer, tiny soldiers!"

Compounding the problem, the camera was uncooperative more often than not. Sometimes it wouldn’t let me move the camera outside of a certain range of whatever unit I had selected. Other times, it was almost impossible to select the unit I needed because the camera would get caught on the terrain. There were even times where a unit wouldn’t accept a movement command outside of a certain distance, posing a problem when you tried to move particularly large armies as every so often, a squad would just stay behind.

King Arthur: Fallen Champions did grow on me. I’ve always felt that medieval strategy games are only for a very specific hardcore audience, and I still feel that’s true. But the missions are varied, the units are diverse, and there’s quite a bit of customization possible. Also, it’s relatively short. All this comes together to form a game worth playing two or three times, if you can deal with a few interface problems. If you’re a fan of the King Arthur series or you just can’t quit playing strategy games, I would say Fallen Champions is worth checking out. For ten bucks, I can live with its shortcomings.

This review is based on the PC version of King Arthur: Fallen Champions provided to us by Paradox Interactive.

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4 Responses to “Review: King Arthur: Fallen Champions (PC)”

  1. August 29th, 2011 at 9:44 am

    Jonah Gregory says:

    This whole genre has always seemed really intimidating from the screenshots. I’m glad to hear this one was pretty accessible.

  2. August 29th, 2011 at 11:01 am

    Mike Bachmann says:

    From what I understand of the series, they watered this one down quite a bit. King Arthur I and II have large campaign maps where forces can be deployed and territories can be taken over and lost. They took that entire system out of this game and focused more on the combat itself. The whole thing really just felt like a beta for King Arthur II more than anything.

  3. September 20th, 2011 at 5:01 am

    Barrel Roll! #134 – “Shoot Shoot Jump Man” – WingDamage.com says:

    [...] Jonah, Jesse and Wes are joined by Mike Bachmann of “A Fistful of Pixels“. He also wrote a review for WingDamage that one [...]

  4. October 5th, 2011 at 8:28 am

    Tweet For King Arthur – WingDamage.com says:

    [...] we got a giveaway for you. We have several codes for Paradox Interactive and Neocore Games’s King Arthur: Fallen Champions that we want to give to you, the faithful WingDamage [...]

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