by Derk Bil
previewed on PC
Meanwhile, nasty magi are preparing spells to further inflict damage. This by itself, isn’t new to the franchise, but for King Arthur II there is some added depth to the magic system. New is the ‘magic shield’ which offers a certain amount of protection against spells. If your shield is still at full strength, you won’t have to worry too much about walls of fire coming out of nowhere and making your life an infernal hell. Spells do whittle away at your shield though, and if your shield runs out before the enemy runs out of mana, you’re up the creek. In addition, most spells take some time to produce. When a magic wielder starts incanting a spell, a timer indicates when it will be ready. This allows you to target the enemy and tongue-tie him before being able to complete the incantation.
King Arthur II is powered by a new engine which proved its mettle both in battles and on the campaign map. During battles, the game is able to produce and control large armies with a high level of detail while showing some spectacular vistas to spice up the view. Battle maps are created dynamically and depict the actual area you are in from the campaign map. In the battle we played, we were treated to a breathtaking view of the spires of a nearby castle towering over a hilly landscape. Truly a sight to behold.
For those familiar with the original King Arthur campaign map; it was rather flat and not overly spectacular. In contrast, the new campaign map is oozing sexiness and manages to be both rich and lush while giving you a real sense of height. Rolling hills, towering mountains, green forests and impressive castles litter the map and make it come to life like no other campaign map ever did before, in any game. It is also considerably larger due to the opening up of the northern area of Britain and the addition of a wasteland.
After the release of the original King Arthur, we quietly wondered if a future sequel could topple Creative Assembly’s offerings in a genre that they have dominated for so long. Now, we no longer wonder. King Arthur II offers so many innovations and is so far ahead when it comes to its engine and the depth of its gameplay that it dwarfs the Total War games in every way. After having played the game, it will be an agonizing wait until the game’s release early 2012, but we’re certain that it will be worth it.