King's Bounty: The Legend Preview

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Publisher: 1C / Atari
Developer: Katauri Interactive

Platform: PC
Official Site

As a young hero (a warrior, paladin or recent graduate of the mage's academy), players venture out into a fantasy kingdom in search of wealth, glory and vast armies to lead. Starting with petty tasks performed for the local king, players encounter bandits and an undead local miller before choosing their own paths to lead armies of fantastic creatures in turn-based combat on behalf of allies of the players' choosing.

Projected Release: 2008
Kyle Ackerman

Hollywood isn't the only industry revisiting old favorites. Recently revamped older games such as Sid Meier's Pirates! have thrilled gamers. Publisher 1C is taking advantage of the trend to bring back an old favorite: King's Bounty. Fans of turn-based strategy may remember the previous PC game, King's Bounty. Well, older fans may remember the game. Young PC gamers are lucky if they were out of diapers when King's Bounty was making the rounds. But they missed out. King's Bounty evokes a lot of fond memories, and now Katauri Interactive has an updated version of the game that preserves what made the original entertaining while adding 3D graphics and a colossal adventuring world to create King's Bounty: The Legend. The game is already well received in Russia, and in a polished state except for the localization that remains to be done to bring the game to North America.

I had the chance to play through the tutorials and the opening areas of the game, as well as see some more advanced combats, and King's Bounty: The Legend is shaping up to be an impressive combination of turn-based strategy and role-playing epic.

I started by choosing to play as a paladin. Players can pick from warrior, mage and paladin archetypes. Warriors start with stronger leadership skills (allowing them to lead more troops into battle) while mages start with more powerful magical talents (allowing them to support their forces with powerful magical spells). Paladins strike a balance between the two, with added strengths against undead creatures. All classes can grow, becoming more powerful by increasing leadership, gaining levels (role-playing-game-style) and learning new abilities in a developmental skill tree.

Having completed a quick tutorial as a paladin, I was immediately thrust into play as the King's treasure hunter, searching for currency stolen by bandits. As in other fantasy role-playing titles, I found myself neck-deep in a rich fantasy world, full of denizens ranging from local townsfolk to an incompletely enchanted rock, all of whom wanted me to complete tasks for a small reward or just do them a boon. Most importantly, I found myself regularly in battle, taking turns giving my troops instructions on how to fight, where to move and what spells to cast.

The overland map was an abstraction &ndash a gorgeous abstraction – in which troops of mixed monsters were represented by a single animated creature, buildings usually contained people with whom I could speak or from whom I could purchase new troops, and the ground sometimes hid treasure &ndash all of it moving in real time. When my avatar overlapped with a monster, battle ensued and I found myself on the turn-based battle screen. But it was possible to avoid battle and skirt around many monsters to steal treasure without combat.

While most of my play time was spent with beginning units (simple archers, knights and priests), the game quickly struck me with its tremendous variety of units and wide assortment of special abilities. I can't vouch for the game's balance, but there were certainly near-immeasurable options, and creatures of all power levels. Just because I could reach enemies on the map didn't mean I was remotely prepared to face them. Creatures can have a large assortment of special abilities, either activated like spells or passive skills that can be part of ordinary attacks or defense. As it should be, battle was as much about intelligence as it was about tactics. Tactics are all well and good, but won't help in the face of a vastly superior foe.

I also got a taste of the RPG-type character development, and while I was only able to learn a few basic skills, it's easy to see how there are innumerable choices for configuring your character. By focusing on spell casting, leadership or special talents, it looks like one will be able to enjoy a tremendously different gaming experience.

Once localization is complete, King's Bounty: The Legend should offer a tremendous value for gamers. Turn-based strategy games are have the potential to offer hundreds of hours of fun, and King's Bounty: The Legend seems prepared to deliver on that promise in a bright, fantastic realm filled with adventure.

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This page contains a single entry by Editor published on June 16, 2008 4:53 PM.

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