I’ve been mucking about with Majesty 2 from Paradox Interactive for the past few days and quite frankly I’m having a hell of a good time. I’ve been neglecting the finale if BSG season 2 and stomping on undead, fire elementals and evil wizards. It’s fun!
Majesty 2 is what I’d like to call a RTFKS – Real Time Fantasy Kingdom Simulator. It’s not really an RTS because you don’t really control your units. You just sort of nudge them along with bribes, cajoling and presents.
It very much reminds me of Warcraft – the original. The style, how my minds eye now forms then graphics (which are nothing compared to M2 or any modern game), the fun of doing things without the frantic rush to build, build, build and then tsunami over the other guy. Warcraft had some of that but didn’t seem to have the urgent, screen rushing, clawing your hair out feel of other RTS titles.
I started as most gamers do by casting the manual aside with a scornful laugh and diving into the tutorial. Okay, I missed a few things and had to go back to the manual but the tutorial is enough to easily get you going.
You begin the game as a mighty king of an empire fallen on hard times. Or perhaps pushed there by a nasty looking demon. It’s up to you to put back the pieces, regain your kingdom and defeat the evil bad guys.
Like most RTS games you must build and collect resources. The resources are easy, as there is only one type. Gold. Once you start, your tax collector will automatically make the rounds and deposit what they collect in your treasury.
Building starts of with a few options and as you move through the campaign these options grow. You’ll obtain more than just the starting market, rangers guild, rogues guild, clerics guild and fighters guild. Blacksmiths, wizards, temples, inns. They all come in to play. As you progress further your also able to raise more money to upgrade these buildings further, giving you more advantages.
Your various guilds as mentioned above are where you get your units. Each guild allows you to create 3 of that type of unit, for a price. As they complete quests and kill things, they go up in levels and in power. Once you’ve gotten a few rangers , fighters, rogues and clerics up and running about, that’s when the fun starts.
At any given time there are always a few random bad things wandering in to your town from the sewers or other places such as bear and wolf dens. Your heroes will hang around town banging on them until you give them something to do. You see, heroes love adventure.
You can place a series of flags on the game map which prompt heroes to do various things. Place an attack flag and those who like attacking (dwarves or fighters say) will head in that direction. Same with the defence flag. Need something explored? Place an exploration flag on a portion of the map not yet visible and there’s a good bet a ranger or rogue will head out there. You can also place flags to let your heroes know to avoid a certain area.
Just putting a flag into the ground isn’t enough to entice a hero though. You’ve got to attach some sort of monetary reward. Starting at 100 gold and going on up to whatever you happen to have on hand, you throw money at your heroes and they’re suddenly very willing to go out and destroy that bear den. Or elemental. Or evil sorcerer’s castle.
That’s the biggest difference between your standard RTS and Majesty 2. Your heroes tend to have their own personalities (based on class) and will do different things, sometimes not in the order you’d like them to. It adds a slight touch of randomness and a new way of managing units without breaking your wrist trying to scroll across the map to deal with the next threat.
Heroes love money. Not only to they amass gold because, well, wouldn’t you like a big old pile of gold? But they then can do stuff with it. They can go to the market and purchase healing potions, rings of protection or whatnot (all of which you have to spend money to research) or they can go to the inn to drink. They can hit up the wizards guild for a magical item and do a lot more. When they spend the money that they’ve earned adventuring or find on corpses or in chests, that money appears in your treasury.
It’s a neat kind of feedback loop in which you spend money to create heroes and perks and then get it back when they spend the money you’ve given them . Or at least, you get a portion back.
Even better, should your 10th level wizard bite it, you have the option of resurrecting them rather than starting with a fresh faced, gangly 1st level wizard. It will cost you though – the higher the level, the more it costs to resurrect.
At the end of each scenario on the main campaign you can choose one of your heroes to be made in to a lord. You can change their names then as well. Once a lord, always a lord, which gives you the option of bringing them in to future campaigns. Again, for a price.
Heroes can be grouped together into a complementary force – putting a fighter and a cleric together always works. Be careful though as some heroes don’t get along well with others. Dwarves and elves carry on their classic conflict in this game.
You can also research deity-like ‘spells’ which allow you to heal units or buildings or go on the attack. For a price, of course.
The graphics on the game are easy on the eyes and fun to look at. I did have a problem though sometimes discerning the difference between a wandering chicken or a malicious wolf. I don’t have a small monitor either. This did force me to keep the map in it’s zoomed in position more often than not.
The sound, music and limited voice acting are all fine and serve to inject some good humor in to the title.
I did find myself in a wait-for-gold situation several times. The enemy didn’t have enough oomph to take me out but I didn’t have enough oomph to respond either, so I was forced to wait for more gold to upgrade buildings and research new technology. There is a speed control on the game for times like this (you can crank the speed up to 8x speed or down to .2x speed should you run in to trouble). The later scenarios can start to last longer than may be strictly necessary as well.
Really my only solid complaints – and they are fairly minor – would be the chickens vs wolves problem I mentioned earlier and some longish spots waiting for the right amount of gold and two glitches I encountered. Once I lost all of the sound effects, while music and voices played fine. That problem went away with the end of the mission. Also once when exiting the game back to Windows my computer froze up for a good 45 seconds.
Should you go out and get this game? If what I’ve described sounds fun then I say yes! You won’t regret it. There are no overarching flaws or deal stopping problems that I’ve encountered. The game play is solid and enjoyable – it kept me glued to my computer for a number of multi-hour sessions. The unique method for controlling your heroes through monetary rewards is fun and rather than get int eh way of game play, helps define it. That’s how you can tell a successful implementation by the way.
Majesty 2 will hit the shelves and digital downloads on the 18th of September.
What’s the other RTS game I can stomach on a regular basis? Sins of a Solar Empire of course.
[tags]video games, rts, majesty 2[/tags]