by Derk Bil
reviewed on PC
A short while
Kingdoms aren't built in a day, which perhaps explains why Paradox Interactive's expansion to Majesty 2: The Fantasy Kingdom Sim arrived a little later than originally planned. Not that releasing an expansion six months of the release of the full game is too late. Not at all even. If you consider that fans of the first Majesty had to wait ten years before the sequel was made, six months is very respectable indeed. More importantly, the now ten-year-old concept of delegating warfare, rather than conducting it yourself is still a uniquely refreshing experience.
You may have beaten Majesty 2, but that is hardly a reason to rest on your laurels. In Majesty 2: Kingmaker, a new threat has risen to challenge your divine rights to rule the lands. The nefarious goblin-lord Grum-Gog has mobilized his green hordes and vowed to separate your head from your body. Oh, and did I tell you that you will have to keep the gods appeased as well? That's right, you have your work cut out for you.
A new campaign awaits
Kingmaker adds a new campaign comprised of seven missions that are certain to keep the average strategist busy for more than a few hours. In fact, I doubt many players will be able to complete every mission on the first attempt. As with the full game, many of the missions are tough as leather and there is no shame in spending several hours on a single mission. The challenges that players will face are not to be underestimated. Majesty 2 wasn't for the faint of heart and the game is exempt of any form of difficulty settings.
Where in the original game the difficulty ramped up quite gradually and became frustratingly difficult later on, Kingmaker kicks off at a fairly challenging level and continues to make things harder on the player. Like many of you, I love a good challenge so this is hardly a complaint. Quite the contrary even, because to make things more interesting you can opt to randomize the location of the monster dens, trading posts and temple spots. So even if you do need to restart a mission to get your revenge, the map will never quite be the same and the mission won't end up feeling stale. If, after finishing the campaign, you are still left with the desire to delegate your minions, then the game has an additional nine separate missions that can also be randomized.
However, in both the campaign and the individual missions, gameplay can get a little repetitive after a while. Most missions play out the same way: you build, defend and clear the map of beasties. Building the same things over and over again may end up feeling like a routine. This isn't really any different from the main game so if you had fun completing that, you know what to expect.
Ice 'm, ice 'm good
Beyond featuring a new campaign, Kingmaker ships with a modest amount of new additions. First of all: Goblins! These overgrown toads are a lot tougher than they look and wield spears, perform magic and shoot bows with lethal force. They also come in large numbers and – like all little green men – they are bent on world domination. This, of course, involves bringing 'Your Majesty' to his or her knees.
On your side of the spectrum, things have been mostly left unchanged. Only one unit, the Ice Mage, has been added to your recruitment roll but you will rarely be able to actually train these guys. Like many hero classes, they do pack a severe punch and will leave your enemies in the cold.
While the addition of only a single unit may seem a little skimpish, there are other new features that make this expansion worth buying. You can, for instance, now create your own maps using the built-in map editor. You can also take the game online and find human opponents to fight with, rather than the AI ones that the game provides. I don't know about you, but to me slaying human controlled cannon fodder always tastes a little sweeter.
Not new but definitely worth mentioning is the 'Billy Connolly-sound-alike' advisor. I find him tremendously funny. In most games, I tend to skip whatever babbling there is unless it is wrapped into an appealing cinematic. There is no desire to move on here. The speech is absolutely drenched in cheesy but nonetheless good humor and worth listening to.
The horse, or the kingdom?
With only one new unit being introduced for you to play with, Kingmaker may feel a little meek. It is easy to dismiss the expansion right out of hand but if you tally up all the individual parts, it still compares favorably to many others. The new campaign and missions are challenging and the map editor and ability to randomize existing maps guarantees a high replay value.
Playing Majesty 2: Kingmaker was a very pleasurable experience for me. If finishing Majesty 2 has not quite quenched your thirst, then I can wholeheartedly recommend this purchase. Now, I need to get back to the game for my second try at the final mission. Ardania needs its king. There are enemies to be vanquished for the good of the land and posterity!
Map randomizer adds lots of replay value.
Very tough on beginners.