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King's Bounty: The Legend

Score: 88%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: 1C Company
Developer: Katauri Interactive
Media: DVD/1
Players: 1
Genre: RPG/ Turn-Based Strategy

Graphics & Sound:

I never played the original King's Bounty, but after seeing a few screenshots and a loose description of the gameplay, I was immediately hooked. Although it doesn't have quite the graphical chops as other PC games, King's Bounty: The Legend has a great visual style that has a decent bit of charm and allure to it. It's nothing you haven't seen in any other fantasy game, though everything is varied and helps create an appealing, yet consistent game world. Oddly enough, the most appealing aspect of the entire visual package was how bright everything is. Again, it isn't anything major, but with so many games trending towards multiple shades of brown and grey, it's nice to see a developer explore the rest of the color palette.

Nothing about the game's soundtrack really stands out. For the most part it is your typical fantasy fare, though it fits the game's feeling and mood, so there isn't much to complain about either. There's a little voicework, though it is contained mostly to a few text-heavy story sequences. Outside the sound effects, which sound like they come right out of a generic library, the voicework is probably the game's weakest part. The narrator sounds stiff and drones through the material.


The basic premise behind King's Bounty: The Legend is simple, and rather weak. The kingdom has fallen on hard times and is in need of a hero. Monster attacks are way up and travel is impeded by the appearance of numerous bandit gangs. The task of finding out what is going on falls on your shoulders. Oh, and there's something about the king's magical daughter... but really, who can tell. The underlying story is enough to get you from place to place though trying to decipher any meaning out of the typo-ridden, poorly written text is a challenge.

The combat that takes place between story segments is great and worth the effort. Although you create a character from one of three classes (Warrior, Wizard, Paladin), you act as an off-field commander for the rag-tag group of units that decide to join you along the way. As you travel around the world, you'll run into forts and castles that you must clear, usually as part of a long quest. Once cleared, the forts produce units and other benefits for your ongoing efforts.

Between battles, you assign attributes to your main character. Might is linked to strength and Magic unlocks new spell abilities. The last attribute, Mind, is similar to "Luck" in other games and allows you to earn experience at an increased rate. Additionally, each class can learn specialized skills as they level up and have different advantages. Knights are incredible melee fighters, while bandits can teleport.

One major issue I had with the game is the overworld map. Like the story, it is good enough to get your where you are going, though it is impossible to know what is going on. Important landmarks, like cities, aren't marked clearly enough. About halfway through the game, I accidentally figured out that markers could be placed on the map. Unfortunately, this isn't mentioned in the tutorial.


King's Bounty: The Legend is a purely strategic outing, so even if the A.I. were mindless, you could still find yourself in a bad spot if you didn't think things through. Although the A.I. does suffer from some minor flaws, overall it is fairly smart. I learned early on that even if its moves seem random, there is some logic behind them. Often times it will bait you with what looks like an easy kill, enticing you to bum rush the poor sap. Once you bite, well... it doesn't always end well. The better you are at thinking on your feet, the easier battles are.

Whenever your troops die they are lost for good, upping the ante. As much as I dislike this mechanic, it makes sense within the context of the game. It isn't too difficult to get new troops, though it is hard not to form some sort of bond with units, especially once you start to upgrade them. The chance of permanently losing units also forces you to think about every move. In short, King's Bounty would be a much different, and probably weaker, game if you didn't run the risk of losing troops.

Game Mechanics:

Combat is incredibly simple to understand yet, like so many things, it is more complex and deep than it initially lets on. Battles take place on a hex-based field. Units fall into a short list of class types and have different movement abilities, sort of like chess. Things become even more complex once terrain comes into play. Even if you have the stronger unit, if it is fighting on unfavorable terrain, you'll probably lose. Demon units get an added defense bonus on lava, for instance. Eventually you'll run across different map layouts and even obstacles like bees that will randomly attack units. Treasure chests are also scattered around some fields and can completely alter your movement strategy if you decide to go after one.

If battle becomes too much to handle, there's always the option of retreating, though doing so will result in some casualties. There's also an auto-combat mode, which may sound enticing for newcomers, though it is worthless and a way to ensure heavy losses. If you're a newcomer, I highly recommend cutting your teeth on the Easy difficulty. Enemies are weaker and it is a good way to get a feel for combat. On Normal, King's Bounty is brutal and may overwhelm even the most seasoned of vets. One trick that makes things much easier is the Right Mouse button, which lets you get a sneak peak of enemy's power levels. Of course, the tutorial never clues you in on this function... so consider this another perk for actually reading more than just the review score.

King's Bounty may not have the best story and the difficulty is a little too brutal, but the good outweighs the bad in nearly every category. The combat system is great and like a good game of chess is constantly engaging and challenging.

-Starscream, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ricky Tucker

Minimum System Requirements:

Pentium IV 3000 MHz or analogous AMD Processor; 1Gb RAM; Nvidia GF7800 with 256Mb or analogous ATI Videocard

Test System:

Windows Vista; 1.6 GHz Dual-Core processor; 2 Gig RAM; DVD drive; 120 GB HDD; GeForce Go7600; Cable Internet Connection

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