King's Bounty: Warriors of the North

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King's Bounty: Warriors of the North review
Matt Porter

Review

For fans

Units (cntd)


More powerful troops require a higher amount of leadership, so it is up to you whether you want to overwhelm your enemies with numbers, or go for fewer, but more deadly allies. When you begin the game, you choose a class for Olaf. The Viking class allows your melee armies to fight better, while the Skald grants a bonus to your leadership. I chose the Soothsayer class, which allows you to bring a great magical force to the battlefield. When you meet an enemy, the game becomes a turn based strategy game, where you will be moving units around on a hex grid, attempting to outsmart and outmuscle your foes.

Combat


The combat sequences are the real heart of the game, and where most of the excitement and decision making is found. Troops stack up on each other like chess pieces, with each piece given a number representing how many of that particular unit is there. Melee units need to be on an adjacent hexagon to an enemy to attack them, while ranged units can be further away. The order of play is determined by each units initiative. Everyone on the battlefield takes turns fighting it out until their troop number reaches zero and they are eliminated. If you destroy all enemy troops, then you win, and gain experience and some loot. If all of your troops are destroyed, you are simply transported back to town, ready to fight another day. However, armies cost money, and there is a limited supply at the various vendors, so it is worth your while to keep your allies safe.

During battle you can also cast spells that you have memorised in your spellbook, or you can use spell scrolls which are one time use. Casting spells uses up your limited supply of mana, which slowly regenerates over time. Olaf also has special powers that he can use once per turn to help turn the tide of battle. These cost a different resource called rage, which builds up over the battle when units die. Additionally you enlist the help of powerful allies called Valkyries throughout the game, who can cast even more powerful abilities at even higher rage costs.

The game has an improved engine, but the graphics still look outdated compared to other modern role playing games and strategy titles. They are not particularly bad, but they just lack that extra bit of polish. The sound is better, with epic choirs and orchestra pieces playing at all the right moments. The songs do become repetitive, but I still found myself humming along with them while I was playing, and occasionally when I was not.

For fans only


Not much of what I have written so far will be much of a surprise to fans of the series. It is most certainly an evolution rather than a revolution, but that is not a bad thing at all. When I talked to the developers at Gamescom this year, they mentioned that one of their playtesters had a game which had lasted 80 hours, and he still had not finished it. It is very easy to see people putting a lot of time into Kings Bounty: Warriors of the North. The early part of the game lacks variety, with limited troops at your disposal and repetitive combat against an AI which is not actually that intelligent. New players may be put off by that. However if all you want is more Kings Bounty after playing the previous games in the series, then that is certainly what you will get.

7.8

fun score

Pros

Sticks to the formula of the series and executes it well. Good strategic elements to the combat combined with RPG elements. Excellent sound design.

Cons

Repetitive gameplay. Not very accessible to new players. Frustrating movement bugs.