King Arthur II captures the spirit of the legend, but it's weighed down by an inferior wargame.
All of this is a lot of fun. The story is engaging and at times reminiscent of the excellent Arthurian legend of Mary Stewart (The Crystal Cave). So it's a blow to the spirit when you go from adventure to combat. The battles in King Arthur II are pretty; you can zoom in to see individual soldiers in your unit's formation. And following a patch issued February 5, the horrible frame rate issue many have encountered in combat seems to have been fixed. The battle frame rates are running now in the mid-20s per second, which makes them actually playable. The units are also nicely animated; when a force of Crusaders charges across the battlefield on horseback, it looks like the unit is flowing across the terrain. It's the game's tactical options that are its downfall.
The winning strategy often comes down to two tactics: Overwhelm your enemy, and take control of the power points. Each of the power points grants your army a special power, such as a chain lightning spell (these have a timer, but they're a powerful aid). The enemy's power points generally grant spells or spawn units; it's important to take these down as quickly as possible. Or you can just mass your army and bludgeon the opposition. You don't see much in the way of flanking tactics from the AI, though it is smart enough to try to take out archers first (though not always smart enough to take out the units protecting those archers).
The enemy AI struggles with its grasp of terrain as well; in the fight that ends one chapter, your foe has two power points inside a fortification. You've got just one way in, which forces you to funnel your forces through a small gate. Does the enemy fortify this position? No. No matter how many times you play the mission, your opponent sends out a number of its units instead of relying on its superior position. But the game does allow you to simulate a number of battles, so if you're not into the combat, you can skip a significant chunk of it (though this is a sad statement for a game that includes "wargame" in its title).
The morale system also makes combat a slog. Each unit has a rating for their morale, but no matter how long you play, soldiers rarely run away in the face of overwhelming odds. Even when most of their army (and leaders) have been destroyed, forces still fight on. In most such games, morale plays an important role; units should break when their leaders are dead and enemy forces are overwhelming. In King Arthur II, you must defeat every unit on the battlefield before advancing, which makes each battle a grind. If enemies can't run away, it makes sense that you have to beat them all. But the morale system implies that retreat should be a viable strategy for the enemy, and far better games (Star Wars Rebellion, for example) even have mechanics to help you prevent retreats. It would be more fun if you had to come up with strategies to prevent retreat, rather than to face forces that don't use the option they way they're meant to.
At least the game's magic system works well in combat. Each side has a shield that helps protect against attacks, so it's a good idea to boost your ability to punch through these protections (either with spells or by increasing your spell power when you level up). The animations for your destructive spells are fantastic; lightning bolts strike the ground, leaving a charred mark, and toss individual soldiers into the air. For longer battles (especially those at the end of chapters), it's important to conserve your magic for when you really need it (and not just to clear out the cannon fodder). You've got your fireballs and lightning bolts, but you can also summon magic to obscure the battlefield from archers (this can be a particularly useful spell) or to curse the enemy. And don't forget to use the spells granted by the power points; these don't show up with your usual complement of magic and are found adjacent to the minimap.
A series of patches have improved the performance and stability of King Arthur II. The frame rates are still horrible (under 10 frames per second) on the main map, but as discussed, frame rates are now better in combat. The game also doesn't crash as much as it did earlier, though infrequent crashes still occur. This is the second Paradox Interactive-published game in recent months (Sword of the Stars II: Lords of Winter is still being patched) to be released with significant technical issues; let's hope Paradox can get these bugs under better control in the future.
King Arthur II: The Role-Playing Wargame delivers as a role-playing game but flounders as a wargame, thanks to a lack of tactical depth. The combat just isn't good, and that's sad because King Arthur II tells a fantastic story. It's better than those seen in most full-fledged RPGs these days, it has a different take on morality systems, and it captures the mysterious and wondrous spirit of Arthurian legend.
king arthur 2 is more streamline and had a stronger RPG feel like Might & Magic as compared to the first king arthur which is more of a strategy game. I m particularly disappointed by the change. Archers are STILL overpowered.
Now I can't say this for sure, but I have a feeling by SW: Rebellion he actually meant SW: Empire At War. Otherwise that's a horrible analogy.
A correction: A retreat is a tactical maneuver ordered by the commander of the army. A rout, however, is when troops panic and run away from the battle, which would happen when their morale is low.
Too underrated :/ King Arthur 2 is more than an average game, according to me. I rate the game 7.5/10
I am playing this game now and I think the game is very good. I like the story and game play as it is. The graphics are pretty good as well. Worth a buy and play.
Does it stutters alot to you? I mean in comparison with the machine you have is it packing a punch? I have GTX560 TI and i still have to lower alot of settings... it pisses me off @burnettaj
It seems there's a fix for that. Video settings made no difference. The fix is to open up the KA2 folder from steam/common/apps and launch "CoreTech2_x64_10" instead of the Steam desktop shortcut. Why this works...no clue. But it does. And I am super grateful for it.
This is thanks to Gamespot member: Rat_King
It's weird that the tale of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table is such a classic, but (apparently) every game based on the tale winds up being so mediocre. ...But then again, King Arthur never did find the Holy Grail -- he was instead killed by his own son Mordred (in the most popular versions of the tale). Perhaps the fail is simply inherent in the legend and unavoidable when applied to video games!
"SW:Rebellion"...takes me back. While I enjoyed "SW: Rebellion" for my own reasons, I have to agree that it was pretty much a botched job. I am disappointed with the launch of "KAII", but then the comments pertaining to the prologue pre-order access weren't promising. I hope it gets better with updates and patches and not left to wither and die as "The King's Crusade" was.
Reviewer, you cite "far better games" and name Star Wars Rebellion? Which got a 4.5 and was released in 1998? That's just odd.
This is the problem with today games! Day-dream ambition, but lack almost all basic foundation, :( I prefer games like StarCraft II, less grandiose, but much much better basics and gameplay...