A Kingdom for Keflings Review

Usually when I get games for review, I sit down, play for as long as I can stand it (or my work schedule affords), get to the end and begin writing. There are exceptions to my set way of doing things, like when reviewing impossibly long and complex games (where the game would be on the bargain shelf before I finished everything) or ridiculously short games, like those available on the iPhone. A Kingdom for Keflings, the Xbox 360's semi-new strategy simulation game that was created to showcase the platform's new personal avatar system, is another exception. I've been playing it on and off for about a week now, and to be perfectly honest, the game is so low-key that I'm not sure exactly how much progress I've made or even if there is an ultimate goal to work toward. That isn't a complaint or slight on the game in the least, but for a system best known for ultra high-end graphics, a fantastic array of FPS and shooting games and an emphasis on online play, A Kingdom for Keflings feels at best out of place, and at worst a tech demo showcasing the change in Xbox Live's appearance.

If you haven't updated your 360 in a while, a little explanation is warranted. Microsoft has changed the look and dashboard of its Live service, and in turn, just about everything you see when you power up the system. Most notable of the changes is the new avatar system that is pretty much exactly like what the Miis are to the Nintendo Wii. Each player designs his or her own little avatar person, who is attached to your gamertag... you get the picture. Sure, the idea is copied from Nintendo, but imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, correct?

Anyhow, A Kingdom for Keflings is the first game that allows you to actually do something with your new 360 avatar. The experience plays out like a mix between Nintendo's Pikmin and a real time strategy game. It is your job to order around the game's namesake, a race of tiny servants Keflings, have them collect stuff from around the map and use blueprints to build a house, a town or even more, depending on how far you want to take things. Like Pikmin, there are different types of Keflings; harvesters collect materials while carriers bring it back for you to use in your buildings. The trick is getting them to work as a team and thus allowing you to build what you want.

I use the word "trick" liberally, because it implies that some kind of skill is needed to achieve goals and move on. Keflings will never, ever challenge your skills as a gamer. You can't die, you can't lose, you can't even get the Keflings to unionize. Even if you utilize your Keflings terribly, the only penalty you'll incur is a slightly slower building process due to the time it will take to get the stuff you need.

At first, the game seems like a good time. After a few hours, you'll realize that you are essentially doing the same consequence-free things over and over. And with no clear goal to work toward, ordering the Keflings around begins to feel like a time-wasting chore, rather than an enjoyable simulation game. I mentioned above that I took a lot more time to play this game before reviewing it, mostly because I kept waiting for something to happen. Nothing ever does. And after browsing a few message boards, it seems that the only thing to work for is a castle to call your own. To me, that just isn't enough. Since the game is available exclusively on Xbox Live, I guess you could hold out some hope for a mission pack, story mode, anything to make it more appealing. As it stands now, though, the game isn't really worth the points (800). I'll be the first to admit I had some fun with the Keflings, but there just isn't enough going on and you seem to have no real purpose. I believe a demo is still available, so if you're interested, check that out before paying full price.

In The End, This Game Hath Been Rated: 61%.


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