Kingdom Under Fire: The Crusaders


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The Crusade Is On When the War of Heroes ended peacefully some 50 years past, no one could have known that the forces of the Dark Legion would someday ride once more – but they have. At the conclusion of Blizzard’s original game for the PC, Kingdom Under Fire, everything seemed peaceful, but these things never last, especially when there’s a sequel to be had… With Kingdom Under Fire: The Crusaders, Blizzard has really outdone itself, delivering a game that gives the satisfaction and sense of control that comes from making decisions that drive entire armies and change the course of battles. At the same time, you’re always personally involved in the action, swinging a sword, casting spells, or launching arrows right alongside your followers. Human troops consist of a wide variety of types, including infantry, bowmen, spearmen, cavalry, trebuchets, catapults, ballista, and even sappers, who can dig traps for your enemies, set fires, and perform other specialized tasks. The orcish forces have their own orc infantry, heavy armor infantry, throwing axemen, wolf riders, and the fearsome captive giant scorpions and swamp mammoths that they push before them. If the orcs aren’t doing it for you, feast your eyes on the amazingly beautiful (but unquestionably deadly) dark elf amazons with their superior bow skills and even mounted archers that can fire while on the move. The elf women make passable infantry, making up for their lack of strength with a higher attack speed and also fielding light cavalry with one-handed swords for offense. The dark elves can even get a dirigible into the field, which has the ability to drop rocks or oil on opposing forces. They can acquire the Black Wyvern forces later, as well as eventually acquiring Ghouls as a new form of infantry. (These are orcs that have been converted by the foul magic of a Lich.) Sure, there are a lot of units, you say, but what good does that do me, since I can only have a few? Well, you can have more than a few. How many more? How about 1000? Are 1000 units enough? Yeah, I kinda thought so. And, these aren’t just pixels on your huge map either. The battles are portrayed at ground level, with you taking the personal role of one of the leaders of the forces involved in the war. Every one of the guys on the field with you is rendered with 3000 to 4000 polygons. But, the game just keeps going in an effort to really show what the Xbox can do. As you wade through the carnage of the field of battle, there will be artillery fire from your enemies, including magical mortar fire. The word itself can also be your enemy or ally. The lay of the land will affect your success in a battle, with height being an important factor in who manages to take the upper hand. The game also considers such esoteric factors as the direction of the sun, the looseness of the soil, light conditions (day/night), and the level of training you’ve given your troops. As you progress, you can gain new abilities, but you can’t win the war all by yourself. You have to see to the training and improvement of your forces as well. You can do this at the various castles you’ll come across, in the course of your travels across the continent. New battlefields appear as the game goes on, urging you deeper into the conflict. And, even after you win the war, there will be new downloadable missions available to keep the game fresh. And, of course, there’s still the ultimate challenge: head-to-head competition against other players over Xbox Live! Use your strategies and skills against your fellow Xbox Live players, and see your place in the rankings for the single-player game as well. Let’s see where you stack up against other fantasy generals. Your orcs might want to reconsider their employment contract…


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