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Kohan II

Score: 88%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: Global Star Software
Developer: Timegate Studios
Media: CD/1
Players: 1 - 8
Genre: Real-Time Strategy

Graphics & Sound:

Judging the graphics in Kohan II: Kings of War is one of those situations where you have a game with technologically superior graphics, but without the impressive artistic style you can find in similar games. Most notably in this case would be Warcraft III. While Kohan II has come several years after Warcraft III, the world and characters of Warcraft III are easily far more vibrant, interesting, and immersive than anything youíll see in Kohan II. Thatís not to say the graphics are bad, they arenít, but they simply fail to usurp the current, long standing, champion. This is additionally unsettling when you take into account that the minimum system requirements for Kohan II require a 1.5 GHz processor. I saw nothing in the game that was pretty enough that I felt something that high was warranted.

The music and sound in Kohan II are equally as good as the graphics. The voice acting is good, if not as memorable as other real-time strategy games. The sounds of battle are realistic and involving. The other sounds and music are always good, just never great enough to be especially memorable. The units also donít say funny things when you click on them; this makes me sad.


Gameplay:

Just like the original Kohan: Immortal Sovereigns, the best thing about Kohan II is the complete lack of real micro-management. You donít need 50 little drones to gather resources and create buildings. You donít need to hover over a fight and tell your 200 units to attack one specific thing after another. The game lets you focus on the strategy. The game, at its core, works just like a billion other real-time strategy games out here. You build a city of some sort, and create units and go up a technology tree while defending that city, eventually expanding into a few other cities, and ultimately attacking the enemy city and wiping them out.

As I said before, while the idea is the same, the execution is pretty different. After you have set up a city, you donít get to choose where to build buildings. Once you select a building, which is done inside the cityís menu, the building begins construction by itself and little workers come out of the city to build it. Likewise, while there are more types of resources than most games, resource gathering as a whole is less cumbersome overall. There are five types of resources: gold, stone, wood, iron, and mana. Gold works pretty much the same as in every other RTS; you spend it when you build just about anything. The method by which it is obtained is different though. Rather than having actual units that gather gold from a mine or what have you, your gold slowly rises by itself. The rate it does this depends on a number in parentheses that appears next to your gold total. The other five types work a little differently. Youíre never "required" to have them, but if you do not have enough of them to support your current infrastructure, things will cost more gold.

Each of the buildings provides two or three of the following things: the ability to produce new types of units, the ability to do research to improve existing units, and increases in your resources. For example, a quarry gives you more stone, while a forge gives you more iron and allows you to research better health, attack, and defense for your infantry units. Most buildings can be upgraded in at least two different ways; this allows for a great deal of flexibility in how you build a particular city. One version gives you more of the resource the building was based on, and the other gives you more gold at a cost of one or all of the other 4 resources.

You can also find resource deposits around the map. If an engineering company builds a mine on the deposit, your cache of that resource, or the rate at which you accrue it in the case of gold, will go up.


Difficulty:

While it would appear the lack of any micro-management would trivialize the game and make it easy, this is simply not the case. If anything, I would say that Kohan II is far too difficult in many situations. Going from mission 4 to mission 5 in the campaign for example is akin to having your wisdom teeth pulled. While mission 4 is extremely easy, youíre lucky not to get wiped out in the first 10 minutes of mission 5. The learning curve could use a great deal of work in this game. There is a difficulty selection, but like Warcraft III the only option is to make it harder. Not a great start to a game that I felt was already too difficult in some areas.

Game Mechanics:

As in Kohan: Immortal Sovereigns, you do not control individual units, but rather companies. They come in pre-built forms, and you can also custom make them. This is almost always the preferable method as custom companies can have more units in them than pre-built ones. Since you can only have so many companies at a time, dictated mainly by the number of cities you have, itís in your best interest to have the most units in them as possible.

When you send a group of companies into battle, you can pretty much just forget about them. You arenít able to dictate very much during a battle anyway except their formation, which affects things like attack efficiency, range of view, and speed. The units even run away, though usually it would have been wiser for them to flee sooner, and the most I usually did during a fight was to have the frontline guys pull back a few seconds into the fight. As long as one unit in the company is alive, the remaining units can be ďrecoveredĒ by sending whatís left of the unit back into your own territory.

Overall Kohan II is a great game. The storyline is interesting, though it does seem to rely on a lot from the previous games to truly appreciate whatís going on. I enjoyed being able to focus on the higher points of a mission rather than trying to frantically manage base operations while staging two separate attacks. Itís definitely easier on the blood pressure. It even had a tutorial that didnít bore, which is one of my pet peeves. I did, however, find the game a little too difficult at points for my own tastes. Perhaps with a little more practice Iíd get better, and Iím sure there are some of you, especially veterans of the first games, that would do just fine. However, that learning curve is still a little skewed and loses Kohan II the most points.


-Alucard, GameVortex Communications
AKA Stephen Triche

Minimum System Requirements:



Windows 98/Millennium/2000/XP; Pentium IV 1.5 GHz; 256 MB of RAM; GeForce3 64 MB or Radeon 8500; DirectX 9.0b
 

Test System:



Windows XP Professional; Pentium IV 2.8 GHz; 1024 MB of RAM; Radeon 9800 Pro 256 MB; DirectX 9.0c

Sony PlayStation 2 Crash: Twinsanity Sega Dreamcast Sonic Shuffle

 
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