A fondness for the series shouldn't blind anyone. This is gibberish. Worse, it's tedious gibberish.

User Rating: 2 | Kingdom Under Fire: Circle of Doom X360
Kingdom Under Fire: Circle of Doom may or may not exist in a deep or plausible fantasy world. Perhaps previous versions of the game made that clear. But this just throws some random fantasy names and vague narrative justifications at you in a way that sounds like nonsense.

It presents you with plenty of enemies to fight, but their locations on the maps are entirely random, and often the pairings are so bizarre (why, exactly, are the goblinoid creatures and carnivorous plants teaming up to attack the player, but not attacking each other?), that it seems like nonsense.

There is a story of sorts, but it's just a few characters in dream sequences who make obscure comments and references that, rather than giving you a clear narrative to follow or reason to engage emotionally, just sound like nonsense.

So, most of the time you're just button-bashing your way through meaningless combats, where mysteriously the enemy can retreat (say, behind bushes) to areas that invisible walls implausibly stop you getting to, where you can see enemies being struck by your arrows but they simply aren't taking damage (though the same enemy is able to shoot you perfectly well at the same range), where monsters seem to be impervious to attacks from behind (penalising you for any attempt to fight tactically)… all of which is nonsense.

Of course, you can buy new weapons, but absurdly you buy them from statues (yup, statues – not traders or stalls or shops, but statues) whose invisible inventories are full of randomly named weapons, with no sense of cultural unity, whose stats seem (rather than being based on the weapon type) entirely random… all of which is nonsense.

Do you see the theme? Yes, this game is utter, utter nonsense.

Of course, that might be OK if it were fun in any other way. But it isn't.

There might have been some interesting ideas. Offering different quests to different player characters might have been a good idea if the quests weren't all equally repetitious. The weapon/item crafting system might have been interesting, if it made any sense. The semi-random generation of levels might have added replayability if it made any difference to the gameplay. But none of the good ideas actually work.

So what you're left with is a dreadfully repetitive button-bashing combat game, without even the emotional buzz or strong sense of culture that made Dynasty Warriors playable. Most of the combat is pretty simple, and entirely tedious. Some of the combat is frustrating (as in later levels, where unintentional "combos" of special damage effects from monsters render the player randomly helpless). But all of the combat is unsatisfying.

I'd love to find something nice to say about this game. The monsters aren't just stock-fantasy clichés? The graphics aren't too bad? That's as positive as I can be.

I've wasted nearly 20 hours of my life on this drivel, hoping that playing different characters or persevering to later levels will open up some sense of narrative, tactical interest – anything to justify the money I spent of the game. But now, as well as having wasted my money, I've also wasted my time. Don't make the same mistake. Avoid!