Despite the name, King Arthur: Fallen Champions isn't a game that directly involves the legendary King Arthur. Instead, this is a much more intimate tale about three fated heroes, a knight, enchantress and a shaman. Developed by Paradox Interactive, fans and new prospects can expect an enjoyably unique and interesting take on the strategy genre. It's no StarCraft, but King Arthur: Fallen Champions doesn't need to be, it's own blend of role-playing and real-time strategy is an experience that you'll be hard pressed to find elsewhere.
King Arthur: Fallen Champions is as much a role-playing experience as it is about real-time strategy. Players choose between three heroes, following along a loosely pre-determined story path that is reminiscent of text-based role-playing adventures. A story that supposedly connects the first game with the upcoming King Arthur II. Choice is immediately made apparently important as each path will differ depending on said choices, but the tense feeling of wondering what the consequences will be is regretfully lost when all paths generally lead to the same end. That's not to say that there aren't any game changing consequences and choices will affect the battles that come after each story segment.
With that said, it should be clarified that the game is structured so that players always start off with an interactive, text-based story before jumping into battle. Depending on the choices made, players may encounter new allies to aid them in the coming battle, generally making life easier as a result. Players can freely switch between the three characters, each of whom have their very own storyline and battles to fight, in-between battles, enabling players the flexibility to play all three in parallel. Quite a bit of the text in the story segments are quite amusing, if a little cheesy. Choices generally range from the cowardly to the neutral and to the bold. None of which truly presents any obstacles or advantages to players other than having less or more resources.
Unfortunately, while the game is quite focused on delivering a story focused on its characters, there is a very disappointing lack of fat to the meat. The text-based role-playing is amusing at first, but gets boring the more you play. Text mazes aren't exactly the most entertaining way of presenting a harrowing journey to save your kidnapped love, and while it seems quick and to the point it also feels too easy a design choice.
Battle events take place right after a story segment and players can develop their heroes before jumping into the fray. Each hero has their own unique abilities which can be upgraded with ability points prior to every battle, it feels like managing characters in a role-playing game like Dungeon Siege. These abilities can be used in tandem with your army's various units in real-time on the battlefield. Units travel in groups, making it easy for players to macro-manage them.
What's interesting about King Arthur: Fallen Champions is the dynamic battlefields, depending on who you play, these conditions will vary. Taking the Pict Shaman as an example, ghost units can only traverse across the map safely at night. Unfortunately for the poor souls, sunlight damages them. The battlefield then quickly becomes a race against time as your ghost army does battle with enemies alongside moving to the next bit of shelter before the sun rises and burns your entire army to a ghastly crisp. In addition, Drest can add more to his spirit army by claiming summoning spots dotted across the map.
Meanwhile, battles are a bit hit and miss, with some lasting a reasonable amount of time with just the right amount of tension before an objective is cleared while others drag out too long for my own personal taste, lasting hours on end, especially with the battles that Pict Shaman Drest faces considering his army can't move about under the sun without suffering its immolating wrath. This issue becomes quite frustrating since there aren't any checkpoints within any one particular scenario. Once a player starts an event, it has to be finished off in one sitting, otherwise players will be left finding themselves back at the start of the same long, arduous conflict.
Thankfully, battle events are quite lovely to watch. It takes a second or two to fully come to grasps with the camera, but once you do, you can sit back and enjoy as the battles commence. Players can raise the camera up high for that tactical edge or bring it down low into the action for that Lord of the Rings-esque cinematic flare. The soundtrack adds even more to the epic feel of each battle, bringing players deeper into the experience.
King Arthur: Fallen Champions doesn't quite revolutionize the strategy genre, but what it does bring is a fun and fascinating journey (three to be exact) through the lands of Britannia in the wake of the Arthurian wars. Despite its faults, it's not a hard game to get into and for only $9.99, it's an experience worth checking out for both fans of real-time strategy games looking for something different and RTS fledglings alike. If you've got the spare change, then why not?
|Dynamic battlefield keep things tense.|
|Freely swap between three characters throughout the story.|
|Nice visual presentation accompanied with an epic soundtrack.|
|Text-based role-playing tends to get boring.|
|Battles can drag on for hours.|
|Lack of checkpoints within a scenario, forcing players to play through in one sitting.|