Kingdom Under Fire: Heroes Review
Kingdom Under Fire: Heroes is definitely different than other games out there. Itís primarily an action game, but it has a healthy dose of real-time strategy and RPG elements thrown into the mix. It takes place in a fantasy world populated by hard-rocking humans, vampires, and elves, as well as various hard-rocking monsters and creatures. Why do they rock so hard? I have no idea, but for some reason everything you do in the game is backed by driving and repetitive metal guitar riffs. Perhaps at some point it was explained why they rock and rock hard, but I may have missed it. It wasnít from a lack of trying on my part, but the gameís cryptic storyline is conveyed through nonsensical and occasionally laughable sound bites uttered by tiny static portraits of the gameís main characters. As far as the story goes, all I got out of it was ďgo there, kill thatĒ and thatís pretty much what I did. Friendly suggestion #1: actually do your translation and localization work in the country youíre targeting.
OK, now that we have all that out of the way letís look at the gameplay itself. Luckily, Heroes fares better on this front than it does with sound and story. At the start of the game you select one of four heroes, each associated with one of the four major races in the game: human, orc, dark elf, and vampire. Each campaign has its own, um, ďstoryĒ, but they all take place during the same time period and each give you a look at the conflict from a different viewpoint.
Once the game begins youíll find your hero at the head of a column of troops and youíll quickly become exposed to the gameís RTS-like element. You can use the thumbstick to select a destination for you troops and then press a button to have them move to that point. Similarly you can direct them to attack an enemy troop formation. These commands can be given directly from the main screen, or you can expand the mini map to get a broader view of the battlefield and issue longer range orders from there. As the game progresses youíll gain additional units to command. When managing multiple units, the triggers are used to cycle through the units so that you can issue orders to each one separately. When not under your direct orders, your units will carry out their last order to completion and then form-up to await their next one.
The units will fight autonomously after receiving an attack order, but you can still give general orders to the units as a whole. The unit with your hero is a bit different though in that as soon as the fighting starts youíll be in full control of your hero. This is where the game switches to an action-fighter, letting you cut through the lines of battle while you cut down your foes. At first this is a mesmerizing experience that you donít really see in other games. There are dozens of combatants locked in melee on the screen and the action really conveys the kind of confusion and carnage that must have characterized medieval combat. The charm wears off a bit when you find that thereís not much strategy to it other than trying to pick out an enemy in the mass of bodies and then button mashing him or her to death. You have a strong and a normal attack button, as well as a special attack to handle multiple enemies, but as is probably the case in battle, brute force wins and so itís the way to go. As you slay enemies youíll fill a skill meter. Once it reaches a certain level you can call on one of your lieutenants to unleash a special attack, but I found these to be somewhat underwhelming and they often left me wondering if they accomplished anything.