by Derk Bil
reviewed on PC
The other two cam/paigns are quite similar. In Champion of the Arena, Princess Amelie is replaced with the noble knight Arthur, who is shanghaied by an old acquaintance from the Armored Princess campaign and forced to do battle in an arena. In this campaign, the player can choose to side with one or more guilds that can supply you with units for the fight.
In order to gain their favor, you will become something of a guild hitman, fulfilling requests to take out nefarious individuals in the arena or through the assassin’s guild. Arena fights consist of massively strong bosses, big nasty mobs and constant summoning of new units that need to be defeated by your own, non-replenishable army. Unlike the first campaign, battles in this campaign are scaled better and remain challenging throughout. The Champion of the Arena is absolutely brilliant, but unfortunately way too short.
The Defender of the Crown campaign fares a similar fate and is perhaps even shorter. It features a more fleshed out storyline and provides a nice challenge. Here too, combat is scaled quite well and I would have loved more of it but I had barely finished my ‘warming-up’ exercises when I saw the end credits.
While these two mini-campaigns are fun and well balanced, their length is a missed opportunity. Fans would have been better served if the developers had found a way to incorporate the two smaller campaigns into the bigger overall one.
One problem that has stayed with the series throughout all its iterations, including this one, is how combat scenes scale really poorly. Granted, it is difficult to balance combat with a semi-open game world in such a way that the player is always offered a combat challenge that fits his level but at times, the King’s Bounty games are just a little too hard. When you avoid a particular clash and save it for later, you may be way too strong when you return.
While the King’s Bounty games are very engaging, a little more narrative could do wonders in terms of immersion. Then there are the little sounds your units make, depending on the unit types there’s dripping, cracking, clanking or grunting to just name a few and those get really old. It actually made me swap units, not because they didn’t perform well for me, but because I had grown tired of the noises they made after yet another victory.
The above are relatively minor gripes but my next is one that is thoroughly off-putting: choosing the wrong option in a conversation will take you straight to the ‘game over’ screen. I don’t mind a challenge, or some consequences, but throwing the player out of the game is cutting corners to the extreme.
The game is stable, except for one thing that I can only assume to be a bug. A plain Orc unit can slay an entire stack of enemies upon retaliating, no matter how powerful that stack might be.
A meal you’ve had before?
King’s Bounty: Crossworlds is a great opportunity to start playing the entire Armored Princess campaign again, perhaps this time around as one of the classes you haven’t played before. It is not possible to carry whatever save games you have over to the new game but that is actually its saving grace: the depth and duration of the added content and classes leaves something to desire.
Fortunately the expansion is easy on the wallet and Crossworlds’ basic gameplay is solid despite some of my reservations. If you have played King’s Bounty: Armored Princess in the past, the expansion is still worth a try, especially if you need an excuse to jump into the main campaign again. If you haven’t played it yet, you should, and this is the best version to procure.
Fun campaigns, more of the same great gameplay.
The new content is rather short.