Bear through my long review and I guess you'll have it all covered

User Rating: 8.5 | King Arthur II: The Role-Playing Wargame PC
No point in comparing this game to the Total War series because I would be subjective.I agree they share many things, but this game is ... something else. I'll just forget about that and focus on this game entirely:
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The good:
This game excels in it's RPG elements. It is simply mind boggling how many things you can do regarding this.
It has a much bigger map then the first KA. After a good chunk of playing you will realise just how big Britannia really is.
It retained the morality graph from the first game. Depending on your actions, you shift towards Lawfull or Tyrant, either Christian or Pagan (old Druid way). So there are 4 ways to play the game, or a variety in between. Each offers different units to play with -for example following the Old Way will grant you access to war beasts, powerful magic and ancient elven beings. The Christians offer powerful cavalry, healers and heavy armor troops.
Every unit gathers experience and levels up, allowing upgrade of stats and new abilities. EVERY unit, not just the heroes -this creates an incentive to preserve your veterans. Once enough progress has been made through the campaign they will upgrade once more to another "tier" of units (like in the Disciples games, to those familiar) -there is actually a tree there with the actual evolution of units; there are around 5-6 evolutions for every unit. This and the extra abilities and stats they gain with experience and your customization makes you feel like all of your units are heroes.
There are of course, hero units. These are your army leaders and participate in battle with special units of bodyguards. They are usually ex-knights of the Round Table. They can only be obtained through special and particularly difficult quests and you should take great care of them. They are one of the 3 classes -Warlord, Champion of the Land and Sage (basically commander, warrior and mage). Each time you level them up, you get to choose a stat to increase and some skill points you invest into skills for them -ala Diablo. They also wear items and artifacts, complete quests and are basically the bread and butter of the game. Bear in mind each class has different item slots as well -while the warrior can wield 2 weapons, the commander must wield a weapon and a shield/banner. Each hero also can be married (except the main char of the story, for some reason) and granted fiefs which determine their specialisation and improve morale. They also have traits they are "born" with. Unfortunatelly they do not gain extra traits durin the campaign.
The quests in this game is one of the things I enjoyed the most. They are all narrated and voice acted as Dungeons and Dragons style, by a "dungeon master". You are given a set of choices for each dillema that is presented to you (all based on your skills, stats, armies and moral etiquette. A tyrant will have other options then a Lawfull knight). For example the narrator tells you that you enter a forest during the night - you can keep to the road or sneak amongst the trees. That might lead into beeing ambushed on the road or beeing eaten by wolves in the forest. Once you advance on the road, you meet a hungry troll -you either feed it or fight it. You got the idea -and based upon your choices, you get different rewards, different fights, varying loot and you advance in your moral graph depending on what you do.
Diplomacy does offer additional RPG content. You could trade with the Welsh for example and acquire better arrows, bows or training for your archers. Things you can't actually build for yourself can only be traded.
Magic takes and important role in this game. They rafined the formula found in the first game - magic is also divided into tiers, like troops. Furthermore it is amplified by special buildings, like stonehenges and the respective spellpower of the hero. It is particularly destructive and has awsome effects. Enough to say one single hero can wipe out 200 of your men on the battlefield with one single spell, even at low levels. To counter this, they added a magic resistance stat (visible on the battle map) and instant spells that can counter enemy spells - like in card games, Magic The Gathering anyone? There are spells that lower the magic res, increase it, sacrifice your own strength for a more powerful effect, the combos are pretty intense. It takes a while to cast things, and the more powerful the spell, the more mana and more time it takes to channel - most can take up to 10-15 sec as far as I've seen. Some go to 30 seconds. Plenty of time to prepare. All the spells have nice visuals and some are incredible -like the ability to change weather on the whole battlefield - let's say you have an army of demons; you can change weather to fire and brimstone raining from the skies, and turn the day into night. Or change it back to sunny to counter that.
Artifacts can now be crafted into more powerful stuff. There are even reagents designed for this.
Provinces captured no longer generate gold, which is earned only via questing and battle. Instead they generate "lore", which is used to access higher tiers of research. Yes, there is also research in this game, mostly for building more stuff. Each landmark in the game can be built upon and improved -you can build a blacksmith in a troop town to forge better weapons for your light infantry for example, resulting in the lord granted that fief (read province) having an extra 10% to light infantry damage. There are alot more things to build, you'll discover for yourself.
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The bad:
The game is by an indie developer who only has the King Arthur titles under their belt. They do have some other obscure games, but nothing noteworthy. Their lack of experience is really showing in some aspects.
The game options regarding video quality seem to affect only the real time battles. The campaign map remains set at maximum settings no matter what. Granted, the actual battles are the greatest resource hog, but beeing unable to turn down details in the main map leads to awkward situations - the game runs smooth when you fight with 5000 troops on screens but totally bogs down when you look at the campaign map (which looks like a freakin chess table, WHY does it eat up so many resources???). Your frame rate will drop.
The sounds in the game are simplistic -each unit has only the basic response "yes sir!", "immediately!". Plus you will be hearing alot of "Your troops are beeing killed!" "Your troops will die!" when you are taking only minor losses at best. Happends so much you might want to turn the sound off after a while. Resist that temptation for the sake of awsome voice acting dough.
The music does not benefit from alot of content. Only a few tracks that repeat over and over and over and over again.
The enemy AI is terrible. In battle they just charge with everything they have in a frontal assault, no matter the terrain or if they walk into an obvious wall of spears. On the campaign map they patrol the same path again and again, Or just stand still, waiting for you to engage them. Sometimes you really feel alone in the KA world.
The real time battle is not really tactical. The units are tiny and you can barelly distinguish foe from friend. Not to mention melee troops have the bad habbit of engaging anything that comes even close to them without any orders. It's more like "box in everything and right click the enemy" just to be sure. At least until you get accustomed to the awkward camera controlls and some other anoying stuff. In fact, the only thing I like more in this aspect, compared to the Medieval Games (there, I've done it!) is the magic you can unleash.
The game was released broken. No mouse cursor appeared when you got into the game. The developers showed a total lack of interest and respect towards the customer and did not fix this.The replies I found on various forums was "alt-tab the game". That gave a mouse for the main menu, but not for the game itself. If that's a fix I'm Mickey Mouse.... I had to resort to the warez scene for a patch -yes, they did release a mouse fix within hours. Had to block the game through the firewall just to make sure it didn't revert to the original. Just like with the Rage from id Software, this game needs a rocket scientist to configure in it's initial state.

Bottom line, this game is very good. The good parts exceed by a huge margin the bad ones. Even if you play a Total War game, do buy this as well. It's a whole new genre -RPG-action-tactical-card game-D&D style. Yea it has it all. I highly recommend it.

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