King Arthur: Fallen Champions (PC)
Developer: Neocore Games
Publisher: Paradox Interactive
Released: Sep 16, 2011
King Arthur: The Roleplaying Wargame is a good game. The premise is a turnbased strategy game, very much like a Total War game, where you have units and armies that you can move around. You can improve your territories and manage your economy, and you can raise armies to crush your foes. While you're playing about on the map, quests will pop up that you can move your hero units too.
The quests are text based, and are very similar to the old "Choose Your Own Adventure" books. You have a small section of story to read, and then you can make a choice based on what you want to do. Your actions can lead to very different outcomes, and the outcome effects what units you have in the upcoming battle. While the idea of reading text might seem off putting, it's all very well written.If your a fan of Arthurian legend it's filled with great and it captures the emotions and setting of Arthur's Britain almost perfectly. This section of the game is King Arthur's strongest point. It's unique, and it's very engaging.
The series weakest point has always been it's combat. While it plays much like a Total War game, it lacks that franchise's deep AI and realistic physics. Units don't group together very well, and they don't feel like they are actually on the battlefield. The pathfinding is horrible, and units will often move in the opposite direction of where you want them to go.
In "Fallen Champions" you get to play as three different heroes, Sir Lionel (a Knight trying to save a damsel in distress), Lady Corrigan (a supernatural being looking for her home in Tir na nÓg), and Drest (a shaman trying whose following a vision. Each of these heroes represents one of the factions from King Arhthur: The Britons, the Picts, and the Sidhe. The story here bridges the gap between the original King Arthur and the upcoming King Arthur 2.
Each hero has a short quest line that includes three missions. Each of the mission phases is made up of a quest and a battle. After you have played all of the heroes missions you play one final mission that involves all three characters. This is a decent amount of content for the $9.99 price tag, and it's a standalone expansion so it's an even better bargain. There is a tutorial included in here too, so even if you have never played King Arthur before you'll still be able to learn how to play the game.
All of the managing aspects of the game have been removed, it's just battles and quests. There are no cites to develop, you can't pick which territory to move to, and you can only go to the next mission spot. You can't build armies, and there is really no need of the tactical map. It's essentially only two-thirds of the game, and they left in the third that sucks.
The fact that over half of the game's content relies on the awful combat really ruins this expansion. In the original game, you could just auto-resolve the battles and keep playing the fun questing part of the game. You can't do that here.
In one mission, you have an army of ghosts at your disposal. There is a day and night cycle during the mission, and your ghost army will burn if they are exposed to daylight. You have to protect them by moving them into a magical circle, which should be fairly easy. Nope, it's not. Your units don't move to the spot where you tell them to go, and they'll walk right past it. They'll happily move outside the circle randomly and burn to death. In another level, there are fire that you can light to kill and split up the enemy army, but you'll probably kill your own units too when they randomly walk into the flaming inferno.
While I really enjoyed the original game, and I think it's one of PC gaming's lovely little gems, I can't recommend this expansion to anyone. If you haven't played King Arthur, then you won't really enjoy this a whole lot, and if you have played it you'll just think of how much better it is than this weird expansion. I recommend that you check out the original game if you haven't played it, and if you have played it you should just wait for King Arthur 2 to come out.
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