After Arthur was mortally wounded by an assassin, chaos and confusion spread throughout the realm. The land once again descended into war and invading forces of an ancient race—the Fomorians—threatened to destroy everything that King Arthur struggled to establish. With Arthur on the verge of death, in hiding, and his kingdom in a shambles, the task of reuniting the realm fell to Arthur’s son, William Pendragon.
Neocore Games and Paradox Interactive bring this second epic chapter of the Arthurian legend to life in King Arthur II: The Role-playing Wargame. As characteristic of the series, players follow an overarching storyline that provides you with different choices that uniquely affect the story and the overall developmental direction of your characters.
Set in Britannia, King Arthur II looks similar to other grand strategy RTS titles such as the Total War series with multiple territories ruled by numerous factions. However, despite the deceivingly large territorial expanse, players will find themselves heavily constrained to regions where the main storyline takes place more-so than in the first game, which is a huge disappointment from a grand strategy point of view.
Aside from the constraints of movement, the further simplification of economic management leaves much to be desired as it is almost nonexistent except for a small number of mediocre construction opportunities which have little economic value, but provide a small bonus to units. Income is earned through completion of missions and destroying enemy armies, which, again, eliminates the feel of this game being a real strategy game. Even though it is supposed to be fusion of both RTS and RPG, the balance has been somewhat tipped in favor of RPG.
Players are still able to manage diplomatic relations with other rulers and factions as typical in RTS games, but AI armies tend to stay within their regions of control rather than venture out to attack you, so diplomacy is not crucial to finishing the story. Technological researching also makes its return, but with the lack of economic effects, the only benefits are military, but are there nonetheless.
RPG elements make their return allowing you to develop your heroes’ stats and abilities as well as those of your military units through combat experience and story progression. For each character, there will be unique artifacts that can be found from quests and battles, which provide varying characteristics. A particularly new feature to the game is the ability to create your own artifacts.
The 3D battles of King Arthur II are probably one of the saving graces of the game as they are much more intense with new units and magical abilities. They’re set on a highly detailed 3D battlefield with intricate terrain features. Unique objective points that provide boosts and magical abilities for your heroes and units are pocked across the map. However, unlike the first game, they have little bearing on the outcome of the battles and act as supplemental features rather than strategic objectives. The combat basics are still present such as the effects of terrain on unit performance and morale.
It is without a doubt that King Arthur II seems to have streamlined a lot of its RTS features that were prevalent from its predecessor. Although this may make the game more approachable to new players, the oversimplification of features takes away the strategic depth that made the first game work well in conjunction with its RPG elements. Furthermore, the linearity of the campaign is a disappointment. However, its redeeming qualities still lie with its great storytelling, the RPG elements such as its questing and stat upgrades, and of course, the 3D battles. That said, King Arthur II may leave fans of the series wanting more, but may be the right draw for those new players intrigued by the series.
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Name: King Arthur II: The Role-playing Wargame
Available on: PC
Developed by: Neocore Games
Published by: Paradox Interactive
Release date: January 27, 2012
EG Score: 3 out of 5 / “Worth Trying”