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Thoughts and Answers

In this section, we like to comment on today’s game topics, or just concepts of gaming.  OK, it’s just a chance to voice our opinion for gaming, but feel free to send us an email with your thoughts.  We may post them. 

The other thing that we do is answer your questions.  Since I teach gaming for Hagerstown Community College, I can answer a variety of technical questions.  I may not want to go into 5 pages of Variational Calculus, but I can take time to try to answer anything that you are having a hard time with, even software issues.


Old Topic Archive


Most Recent Topic - King’s Bounty Review

FRESH! Here's our most recent published review.  Granted these our old school games, but what did you expect from us.  We’re old school!  (Just not Atari old school, more like 2000’s old school) Here you go: 

King’s Bounty: Armored Princess

King’s Bounty: Armored Princess (KBAP) is a modern RPG.  And by that, I mean that it has many elements of old RPG’s like Betrayal at Krondor, but tries to shed some of the aged aspects. It tries to keep the best while advancing the genre.  It’s surprisingly good in a nontraditional way. 

How’s is it different?  Well, before I make it sound like a totally new genre, let me tell you how it’s similar to the old RPGs.  First off, you do a lot of reading.  Oh the humanity.  Yes, heaven forbid we read and not be told a story.  To be honest, I don’t like to spend a lot of time reading either, but it does give a charm and a way to engage a fuller plot than cut scenes.

The villains don’t respawn.  I feel like putting an exclamation point on that sentence.  Nowadays, since economy seems to overbearing to modern game designers, they just have the monster pop up after a few minutes.  Boring, tedious, poorly tough out.  Any other questions?  This game uses single spawns to its advantage as it forces you to budget, and possibly get into fights and story that you may have normally skipped. 

The story itself is a little cheesy at first.  A princess who proves her worth in a great quest, mmm.  It seems to try to play on the clichéd empowered woman plot which almost always stinks in modern stories.  It hurts even worse when the mage form of your heroine is pretty much in an armored bikini.  However, the story turns around in the middle of the game and turns into a simple but interesting adventure.

It has your classic quests.  These are decent but not involved.  Older RPGs do this better.  Also rarely do you end these quests other than in a skirmish.  Many of the fights leave you with no idea how it will resolve the issue.  If I fight this villain, will I kill him at the end or will I resolve it through forcing him to recant?  Sadly, you don’t get to choose, the game does.  So, you may end up regretting a fisticuffs battle that you thought would bring down someone a peg but end up slaughtering that person.

The skill trees of RPG fame are there and sound.  They may not necessarily be impacted by the story, but it gives you a nice sense of customizability.  They also do a nice job of allowing you enough points to feel satisfied with your choices and growth, but not give you too much such that you can be everything.  Choices are important.

As far as the gameplay, you’ll find yourself well challenged.  Since you don’t have the re-spawns, you can’t accrue money quick and have to take on harder opponents quicker.  No farming here.  The battles are turn based, which can seem a little repetitive.  They have you do it in the way of action points, so certain units with more points tend to (always) move first.  It sounds like a good idea, but in some ways you fall into predictable, repetitive combat.

They try to keep fights alive by using both rage and mana.  So, mana usually runs out halfway through your longer bouts.  However, by that time, rage goes from 0 to full.  You expend rage on abilities akin to magic but with their own flavor. 

The troops themselves are fairly well balanced and you can build either cheap, en masse units or go with a few bad ass dragons.  Let’s face it.  You’ll probably go with the dragons, but still it’s fun to have choices. 

It would be nice if the challenges ranged as nicely as the units.  I know that it is hard to do, but most challenges are fairly simple with a battle at the end of a quest.  The quests can tend to feel like an ‘x’ on a map.  Because of this, the challenging beginning can be little more than dying and reloading, over and over. 

Getting back to the old school RPG comparison, you won’t find an open world here.  Maps are split up into islands.  Although this might upset the Elder Scrolls addicts, this system works well for this game.  Sure loading times aren’t fun, but each island has its own personality, its own look.  The discontinuity actually readies you for the difference.  Open worlds are overrated anyway.  Who’s kidding?

The one thing that you won’t find old school is the art.  It’s new but stylistic.  Think about WoW meets Dungeon Siege.  That’s about it.  It’s fun, very colorful and consistent.  It’s also a bit cramped.  Houses and structures tend to be undersized, almost insignificant, which doesn’t match some of their importance to plot and quests.  Your protagonist is a bit too large even for a game.  It would have been nice if they just shrank her a tad.  The whole concept would have worked.  Nonetheless, it still is good and works well for an RPG.

Other modern “improvements” are not so good.  There is very little which you will get if you purchase the box form of the game.  This translates into little backstory or lore.  You just kind of roll with the mythology that goes on through the story.   You pretty much just getting a disk.  A down load for this game would get you about the same thing.

Overall, I’m fond of this game.  I like the evolved try at the classic RPG.  I think that I’d rather play Betrayal at Krondor.  However, this is fun and invigorates something that feels like it is dying.  This genre definitely shouldn’t.  This series hopefully will keep reminding people what’s good about it.