Paradox InteractiveDeveloped By:
Real-Time StrategyRelease Date:
September 15, 2009 Screenshots: LinkAmazon: Buy Now!Written By:
Christian H.September 4, 2009
- What happens when you take a pinch of fantasy RPG, a dab of Populous, and wrap it in a warm crust of Sim City? You get Majesty: The Fantasy Kingdom Sim. Majesty was a unique breed of RTS released for the PC in early 2000. After one expansion and one canceled sequel, it looked like the Majesty brand was very short lived. Paradox Interactive bought the IP in 2007 and is now making Majesty 2 a reality.
Fans will be happy to hear that Majesty 2 is keeping very faithful to its predecessor. For those unfamiliar with Majesty (which I'm sure must be the vast majority of you; it's pretty obscure), here's the rundown: it's sort of an RTS. You're the king, and as the king it's your job to build, expand, manage, and defend your kingdom. Basically, it's the base-building and unit production without the combat. Trust me, it's more fun than it sounds.
The units you produce are mostly autonomous. They go adventuring and exploring on their own volition. They'll slay monsters, earn gold and spend it on items that you research. Though not under your control, they can be influenced by placing bounties to explore certain areas, or defend or attack different structures.
Due to the limited nature of this particular build, I didn't have the opportunity to experiment with many of the higher-tier, more interesting units. However, even the the usual fantasy suspects of warrior, ranger, rogue, cleric, mage, dwarf, and elf were each unique and useful in their own ways. Warriors enjoy defending the kingdom, rangers enjoy exploring; each hero type has its own unique personality quirks. Since you can't use every hero type in every mission (well you could, but you never need to) it comes in handy to know what different heroes like depending on what the mission calls for.
The AI could be frustrating at times. For example, newly-recruited level 1 rogues would often take off after bounties on monster lairs that were way out of their league, getting themselves killed. Bizarrely, I often found that my clerics would do the same, instead of supporting other heroes as intended. This made leveling rogues and clerics an expensive chore that sometimes felt like more trouble than it was worth. Another issue with the AI in general is its single-mindedness. I would often see heroes confronting monsters I had placed bounties on, attacking them with no regard to the swarms of lower-level monsters rapidly chipping away at their health. In many cases these heroes could win the fight if only they bothered to fend off the much weaker critters but they rarely did. Furthermore I had many heroes—usually defensively weak magic users—single handedly pursue bounties that could kill them in one shot. So they would take off alone, die, I would resurrect them, and then they'd go and do the exact same thing. This is a beta build, so hopefully this issue will be fixed for the final release.
Naturally, as faithful as Majesty 2 is to its source, it's making a few modern upgrades. First and foremost is the move from 2D to 3D, allowing the player to zoom in close and personal on the action. For those drawn to the paper doll effect, there are other visual upgrades. As your units buy new armor, their appearance in-game changes as well. While this is mostly a cosmetic change, it can be handy in quickly identifying your units. If you see decently-leveled unit wandering around in basic armor, it might be a good idea to place a bounty flag nearby so he can earn some cash to go upgrade.
Resurrection is another welcome new feature. Instead of being forced to hire new level 1 heroes when a hero dies, you can opt to resurrect them for a fee that increases with their level. It goes a long way towards providing a continuous sense of progression. Not to mention, reducing the stress felt when that level 20 dies because some big bad emerged from the fog of war and caught him off guard.
Also new is the ability to select heroes to become lords. Lords are basically heroes from previous missions that you can re-hire, bringing them into any new missions. This feature provides a good feeling of continuity through the game. As lords continue to level and progress you'll quickly find your favorites. It also provides a good sense of balance. For example, say you decide not to build a mage's guild in a particular mission, simply because tit would simply take too much time to let them level up. Then, you realize having a mage could be really useful. Uh-oh. However, bringing in that one level 20 mage lord, with his upgraded equipment and spells can be a cheaper and more effective option.
Another new feature that I got to experiment with in this build is the party system. With an upgraded tavern, you can gather heroes together and form them into parties, much like in a traditional RPG. They'll undertake bounties as a group and work more cohesively than when a bunch of lone heroes are simply going after the same bounty. It doesn't fundamentally change the game in any way, but it's certainly nice to have.
Currently Majesty 2 is scheduled for a September 2009 release. Fans of the original will be happy to hear that it's shaping up nicely. It's just like the game you love, only prettier and slightly more complex. This preview was based on a beta build, so there are still issues to be addressed. Hopefully the AI will shape up better for the final release. Even if you're unaware of the original Majesty, you should give Majesty 2 a serious look. If you're interested in a new take on the RTS/RPG genre or you just enjoy watching little people be affected by your sovereign powers, Majesty 2 can oblige.
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