I have a confession. Ever since the first Medieval: Total War came out, I’ve used an identical strategy in every field battle in every game in the series. Without going into too much detail, it involves keep my army in a very closed formation, while the enemy always seemed to be spread out. I would use my local superiority to smash the forces closest to me, and the resulting wave of demoralization would make it easy to defeat my enemy in detail. Think Alexander at Gaugamala (Wikipedia it… I’ll wait).
The first time in King Arthur 2 (KA2) I bunched my army up like that in a boss battle, half of it was annihilated in about 2 seconds. This, I mused, is going to take some thought. Someone has taken one of my favorite genres and turned it on its head. What do I do now?
Quickly, I found that this was a game where your armies (especially in the end game) were more of a supplement to your heroes than the main event. Your task in King Arthur 2 is to level those heroes up by completing quests. The strength of your actual army, while important, was secondary to the effort your heroes would have on the war effort. Through their special abilities and combat skills, the hero units are the stars of the battlefield, leaving piles of enemies in their wake. While there is an experience system for your regular troops, leveling up your heroes, gaining more and stronger powers in the process, is much more important. This is a game about heroes knocking the walls down. Tactics involving your armies are secondary to those involving your heroes, creating an entirely new twist on the strategy RTS elements. Battles hinge on the fate of your hero units, and swirl around them.
Being a role-playing wargame, the strategic level is less about building up massive armies and taking the war to your neighbors and more about taking your 3 armies (yes, you’ll only get three at most) and completing the quests you’re confronted with. While it is refreshing to have clearer goals than “conquer the weakest neighbor,” I have to admit that it was slightly bothersome to be forced to ignore foes sitting just over the border because I wasn’t allowed to attack them. My territory, as it grew, also felt quite barren with so few armies. I’m conditioned to think of bigger and more as better, I suppose.
KA2 is, if nothing else, one of the most graphics intensive strategy games I have ever played. The level of detail on the battlefield is mind blowing. Field objectives stick out, beautifully painted onto lush terrain. Even the overmap is gorgeous. If visuals are your thing, you can do far, far worse than KA2.
While I do really enjoy what King Arthur 2 has to offer, it’s difficult for me to give it a whole hearted recommendation. While the quest system is refreshing, it feels too constricting (moreso than its predecessor). Still, the battles are fantastically fun, the powers of the heroes amazing both to use and to watch, and the game a beauty to look at. If you are a strategy gamer, King Arthur 2 is a must play effort.
- Great twist on RTS genre
- Fun abilities for heroes
- Constricting quest system
- Want more armies
4 / 5