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Reviewed: King's Bounty: Crossworlds
Producer: 1C Company
Required System:PC
Overall Rating:
Author: Michael Ahlf
Date: December 3rd, 2010

1C Company's line of "King's Bounty" titles has been a unique experience. Utilizing the gameplay mechanics of the old "Heroes of Might and Magic" series, giving players a much more persistent world to explore and enjoy, and gradually handing out the ability to move onward and forward to acquire greater allies, it's always been a unique title for gameplay.

The underlying premise of Crossworlds is a bit different from the previous two titles. In the original KB: The Legend, players took on the role of a knight, running off to rescue a princess and dealing with all sorts of nasties and a bit of political intrigue along the way. In the standalone expansion Armored Princess, players got to be that same girl, sent to an alternate world to find her mentor and come back to save the kingdom. Crossworlds takes the rest of that and premise and expands it with three not-quite-standalone new campaigns; the first two are mini-campaigns, while the third is an add-on that tosses new units and quests into the existing Armored Princess campaign.

Since what we're dealing with here is a real, true expansion this time, it's worth noting that Crossworlds isn't a fully standalone expansion, but requires Armored Princess in order to play. For gamers with KP:AP, it can be purchased alone, or as a package deal. For gamers who want the entire set - or want to give it as a gift - The King's Bounty: Platinum Edition set includes the original KB: The Legend, KB: Armored Princess, and KB: Crossworlds rolled into one.

A nice feature of this set is the fact that two of the campaigns are "quickplay" varieties; something of a mix between tactical minigames and just shorter campaigns, the Arena and Defender of the Crown portions of Crossworlds offer a way to jump right into the action. Champion of the Arena puts the player into the shoes of a knight with nothing else to do but take on fight after fight against giant bosses, eight in all - most of them ripped from one campaign or another, such as the giant turtle spirit and the giant spider from the first KB: The Legend. Between fights, players toy around with factions and some small roleplaying to expand the number and type of available units in order to put together unique combinations for the next fight, since managing to win these battles is about synergy between troop abilities and not mere by-attrition combat.

Defender of the Crown, meanwhile, attaches to the Armored Princess storyline as an epilogue, offering a few more fights in a small map to give closure to Amelie's story. It's best to be played after finishing the main storyline, despite not carrying over savegame experience and troops. The storyline, a bit more linear than the main campaign, revolves around Amelie's being given a test - to clear the isles of marauding lizardmen and win the title of Defender of the Crown of Darion. In essence, it's a campaign about resource starvation, giving the player a lot less to work with than previous campaigns where many fights could be avoided in favor of dodging around until leveled up and able to take them on in an easier power balance.

Finally, there's Orcs on the March, a pretty large expansion to the Armored Princess campaign. This one's the real gem - a sizable influx of troop types and battles, new quests, skills, spells, and locations. The downside is that despite being bolted on to the original Armored Princess game world, it's considered a "new campaign", and so existing players who have a halfway-finished Armored Princess save are still required to start Orcs on the March over from scratch.

Is it a worthwhile expansion? Absolutely. Would it be better if the save files, or character files, transferred between campaigns? Definitely. Recommended if you're into strategy games or want to give a nice christmas gift to someone who is.

Added:  Sunday, December 05, 2010
Reviewer:  Michael Ahlf
Page: 1/2

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