Kingdom Under Fire: A War of Heroes was released for Windows in 2001 published by now defunct publisher, Gathering of Developers. The game is based in a high fantasy setting played from an isometric perspective.  The game is the first release in the series that includes critically acclaimed adaptations on the Xbox and other platforms.  This review was originally posted on Gamers Uplink in 2001 and was written by Justin (aka: kilik123).

I for one think that at times RTS games can be the hardest genre to get right. From problems with AI being too easy, to getting the games balance just right. There are numerous things that can go wrong with such a title. RPG style games are also a mixed bag. At times you get a great story along with mediocre gameplay. When you take a decent RTS and a mediocre RPG and combine them with a great story, you get Kingdom Under Fire.

Going by normal classification monikers, this game would be an RTS/RPG. As an RTS game its emphasis is more on fighting than building up an empire. Within the game there are two races, Humans and Orcs (yes, they couldn’t come up with anything better than that…). Each one has its own weapons and certain characters that you play as. The RTS gameplay itself is fairly decent; each combat unit is nicely balanced with its counter parts from the other race. However, they went and threw in some RPG elements. There are certain characters within the game that HAVE to stay alive, they die and its mission over. Because of this you are forced to constantly keep an eye on these certain characters while at the same time you have to try and keep an eye on the whole scheme of things as well. At times this is highly difficult and requires you to switch from one side of the map to the other. The other RPG elements are the magic attacks using mana that certain units can use.

The game’s graphics are average for a RTS of this nature. While not quite the level of say Age of Empires, the character models are fairly good really. The graphical highlight however is the magical spells. Depending on character and race you are afforded the use of nice looking special effects. One such effect being the use of lightning bolts. You can see the bolt ripple over the body of your target, very nice.

The key element to the game (Kingdom under Fire) however is its story. This is the reason why you continue on playing even though the game isn’t really that good. The games basic plot is as follows: The land of Bersiah was witness to a great battle between good and evil about a century ago. A whole group of good guys got together and beat the hell out of the big evil monster that was threatening the world. Now 100 years later, the orcs and ogres are once again on the move and it’s up to you to either lead them or defeat them in the game’s two campaigns. Each campaign consists of 13 missions, 10 being battles and 3 being dungeon crawls. The story is told through the viewpoint of different characters. The game uses both beautiful CG sequences and in game storytelling. Yes, the story is not exactly original in nature but it is nonetheless very well executed. You’re always given a purpose for why you are fighting, even though that part is not outstanding.

This brings up another point. The game is quite hard. You are forced to fight literally 25 or more enemies at once most of the time. While this wouldn’t be very difficult if you were given the proper amount of time to build up a nice army, it is highly difficult since you have to keep your “hero” alive at all times. If you become frustrated easily, or don’t have the time to devote to replaying a mission numerous times, then this game is not for you. Oh, did I mention no in game save feature? That’s right kiddies, you have to start all over again should your hero die 😛

The last aspect of the game is its online play. You are able to connect via what is known as the War Gate. Upon getting connected to the server you can chat with fellow players and form games. Games can have a max of 8 players, and you can be allied to have different variations, such as 4 teams of 2. The game was not very laggy even for my pitiful 56k (shut up, broadband is not available where I live…) This part of the game can be fun depending on how you play. One thing that you should know is that you can NEVER have too many peasants gathering raw materials. The game itself is more battle oriented and network play is also more geared toward this end; in other words, build up an army as quickly as possible or die from a quick attack. Overall, the network play is fun, but not among the best.

Overall Kingdom Under Fire is a decent game that at times really shines with its great story telling. It seems that the game tries to do a little too much though and the title suffers because of it. While Warcraft 3 it isn’t, the game will provide you with some fun till you can get your mitts on Blizzards next million seller. Kingdom can be summed up in a word, adequate.


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