Kingdom Under Fire: Heroes Review - The Next Level

Game Profile

System:
Xbox
Release date:
Sept. 20, 2005
Publisher:
Microsoft Game Studios
Developer:
Phantagram
Players:
1 - 6
Genre:
Real-Time Strategy
ESRB:
M

Kingdom Under Fire: Heroes

It's the closest you can get to a medieval battlefield without a time machine.

Review by Aaron Drewniak (Email)
October 28th 2005

Rupert tightened his grip on his giant warhammer, resisting the urge to rush ahead with a bellowing war cry, decimating anything in his path. The knights sworn to follow him to the death exchanged uneasy glances, not knowing what could be hidden by the tall trees all around them. While the archers checked their bows to be ready to fire at a moment's notice, knowing their swiftness and accuracy were the keys to victory. Only the sappers were relaxed, having already performed their duties, and stood with their hands on their sword pommels on the off chance they would be called in to join the inevitable melee.

Then a figure of a lone knight appeared in the distance; the scout that had been sent out to search the area. Just behind him raged an entire company of orcs with their axes held high as they shouted and snorted in their efforts to slay the troublesome human, not realizing he had just led them into an entire field of traps. At least until they exploded all around their platoon, slaying two thirds of their number.

"Get your butts moving!" Rupert called out to his army as he raised his hammer high, causing his troops to surge all around him in a rush to finish off their foes.

A Crusade for an Unforgettable Experience

Kingdom Under Fire: Crusaders might just be the most misunderstood game ever released. People sampled the Gerald campaign and assumed it was nothing more than a Dynasty Warriors clone with better graphics but a less evolved combat system. They probably never played far enough to realize that the hand to hand fighting was the least important aspect of combat, and that spending too much time taking on the orcs and dark elves mano a mano would lead to certain failure. The key was forming, training, and properly commanding your troops on the battlefield, using tactics and quick thinking to overcome overwhelming odds. Anyone who didn't spend half their playtime holding down either the right or left trigger just wasn't playing it right.

Heroes plays out essentially the same as the first, so those who never tried Crusaders, let me give you a quick rundown. In battle, you'll have up to four units of various types (archers, sappers, etc.) to command. This is pulled off mainly through the mini-map brought up by right trigger for direct commands, and left trigger for laying out waypoints (critical for cavalry charges). Some units also have special options accessed via the d-pad, which is also used to command support units. When you're in the thick of things, you can fight directly with the main character with weak, strong, and special attacks that are rolled up into various combos. He can also call upon the aid of his lieutenants to launch special attacks or cast spells. Some enemy units have captains, and killing them off will break their whole unit, but it's not something that can be counted on in the chaos of battle. Victories in Kingdom Under Fire are never won by one man. Especially in the latter missions, you'll need to be constantly directing and redirecting your forces for any hope of success.

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