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Majesty 2: The Fantasy Kingdom Sim (PC) artwork

Majesty 2: The Fantasy Kingdom Sim (PC) review


"Earlier this year I previewed Majesty 2. Back then I praised its novelty and commented on how the revolutionary management system could signal a whole new type of simulation-strategy game. There were moments where I felt like a massively multiplayer community director – assigning quests and handing out rewards to heroes. This made the title drastically different to other titles in the same genre and a pleasure to play. The whole preview was based on the concept that you don't truly control your kingdom's inhabitants and instead you recruit them at specifically-designed guilds. Then you simply allow them to roam free around the land. I found this to be a fascinating element and was the key reason behind me enjoying the beta so much. This unique feel has thankfully been carried through to the full version."



Earlier this year I previewed Majesty 2. Back then I praised its novelty and commented on how the revolutionary management system could signal a whole new type of simulation-strategy game. There were moments where I felt like a massively multiplayer community director – assigning quests and handing out rewards to heroes. This made the title drastically different to other titles in the same genre and a pleasure to play. The whole preview was based on the concept that you don't truly control your kingdom's inhabitants and instead you recruit them at specifically-designed guilds. Then you simply allow them to roam free around the land. I found this to be a fascinating element and was the key reason behind me enjoying the beta so much. This unique feel has thankfully been carried through to the full version.

Never being able to fully influence actions units take will be annoying to many old school tacticians. However, seeing soldiers independently make use of the tools you provide is a great experience. While there's only a finite number of actions for each hero, the AI is smart and manages to utilise its surroundings appropriately. When a rogue finds some gold, she'll hurry off to spend it on trinkets from the market. Likewise, a warrior who is hurt in battle will either gulp down a health potion or flee back to town. In addition, there's a new system of emoticons that periodically pop up over heroes' heads to reflect their thoughts. These are an assortment of small faces that range from beaming smiles to furrowed brows of frustration. Emoticons assist you in getting that little bit more emotionally connected to your chaps and gives clear explanations for their behaviour. When coupled with unique names and independence, units begin to look like more than faceless, totally obedient minions. It's a fantastic direction that should have been expanded more. Heroes either wander around the map in search of adventure, go to the shops or stay at home. A little more variation as to how they interact with each other (say, through relationships) would have gone a long way and even given an opportunity to implement more comedic elements. The feud between Dwarves and Elves is mentioned frequently throughout all levels, but there's nothing stopping you building settlements in the same camp for both races. They don't really seem that bothered by each other which makes so much emphasis on their mutual dislike irrelevant. Having heroes react to the presence of their comrades (whether it be in a positive or negative way) would have added an extra level of depth to their personalities.

The preview build of Majesty 2 was a half-translated mess with dialogue riddled with grammatical errors. The full version has fixed its semantics but the game hasn't got a great deal funnier. Before, the advisor's constant nonsensical ramblings were amusing because they weren't entirely done on purpose. Other funny moments were subtle, like sexual innuendos in troop names. Now everything in the world seems to be a dry attempt to get the player to laugh and it doesn't work. Silly names are great the first time you see them, but are quickly perceived as immature when your ranks swell with people possessing the same puns. The advisor still had potential to provide a snigger, but his line delivery is so poor it's almost impossible to determine what is a joke and what isn't. This is truly Monty Python-esque humour that's funny the first time you see it yet becomes ridiculous by the third time it's repeated. The overall design of the entire title is great, but the writing is simply not up to scratch.

Conversely, missions are kept relatively refreshing by presenting interesting objectives. Most of the time you'll be sent off to kill some fantastical creature or other, although fortunately there's a different method available on every mission – from trapping giant rats in cages to catching an ogre while he naps. There's only one problem. Approaching these challenges is done in almost exactly the same way every time: Get rich, amass a force and send them in the direction of the principal antagonist of that map. Save yourself a trip to GameFAQs; I've just told you how to beat the entire game. You'll face roughly these same circumstances in all but one level (which focuses on acquiring money). If it wasn't for the gradual unveiling of new features like mages and beastmasters, then I expect Majesty 2's campaign would be rather mundane to play. The story is a vanilla 'Gain land. Tackle demon. Take throne.' affair with no twists or turns. It's difficult to become excited about the plot, yet I doubt that's what the developers intended.

Instead, there's much focus on becoming attached to your heroes. They rank up and you can retain your favourites throughout the campaign. This is where the entire focus of gameplay in Majesty 2 lies. It's great to see an appointed lord acquire a nice selection of phat loot over their lifetime. The chances are you'll probably bring them back from death a few times too. While the narrative makes a huge deal out of the player fulfilling their destiny, the experience is actually more about the unspoken bond between you and your followers. It's amazing how this relatively simplistic system can evoke such emotion. I'm not saying you'll be moved to tears when one of your soldiers die, but you will feel extremely proud when a group manages to defeat a demon or five by themselves. These are not anonymous knights which constantly obey their omnipotent commander. You're in it together with your subjects and the game conveys that message successfully.

Rating: 8/10

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Freelance review by Scott Constantine (November 15, 2009)

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