Majesty 2 Hands On Preview (PC)

Majesty 2: The Fantasy Kingdom Sim
Publisher: Paradox Interactive
Developer: 1C:Ino-Co
Genre: Real Time Strategy
Release Date: Q2 2009

Majesty 2: The Fantasy Kingdom Simulator is a sequel to 1999’s Majesty which became a cult classic. Unfortunately, both the game’s publisher and developer went bust and we haven’t heard much from the series until Paradox Interactive picked up the right. Paradox then teamed up with Russian developers 1C, most well known for their excellent series of IL-2 Sturmovik flight simulators, to bring this series back from its near decade long limbo.

Recently, I was given an early pre-alpha build of the seqeul to see how the game is progressing.

Majesty 2 has no campaign mode yet so the only option was to play six progressively more difficult single missions included in the game that unlock more buildings to play with as you go through them.

If you’ve played titles like Dungeon Keeper or Evil Genius, then you have a basic idea of how Majesty 2 works. You have no direct control over any of the units under your command. First you must place “guilds” on that map that you recruit heroes from. Then you must issue “quests” for these heroes to accomplish and reward them gold that in turn, they use to buy gear and potions. Basically, it’s like a simplified D&D Dungeon Master and Dungeon Keeper mixed together to make a game that’s a parody of the whole “grinding” mechanic in RPGs. Well, except that you get to play the good part – that of the King that all the heroes’ money goes to when you tax them to death and sell their gear to them. Fun.

It’s a symbiotic relationship, you build the heroes their guilds, give them gold, give them places to buy stuff with said gold and a safe haven in a world full of skeletons, demons and whatever other monster they have to kill. In return, they are the driving force of your economy by collecting loot and spending it in your town as well as protecting your trade caravans. As they grow in level, so will your town and your coffers.

Nurturing heroes from level one noobs to the higher levels brings the same type of joy and addiction as nurturing Pokémon. You see them level up, get new equipment and slay ever increasing amounts of monsters. The only difference is that unlike in Pokémon, when your hero’s HP reaches zero he’s gone for good. This is frustrating because at this point in development, the AI is quite suicidal and often will not attempt to flee until far too late. Sure, there’s a resurrection spell but it costs gold to research as well as cast. Gold you just can’t spare in the early game when the guards around your castle are stronger than your heroes.

Currently, many of the features in the game are not implemented such as parties. In a tavern your heroes should meet and form parties for questing which should greatly increase their survivability as well as get the cleric heroes to start healing the others. In addition, there are plenty of bugs and translation issues but considering this is a very early release of the game that is understandable. Paradox‘s releases also are usually provided with a good translation so that shouldn’t be a worry.

The one problem with the game’s atmosphere is that your little town doesn’t look like a “Kingdom” but rather a small base in a game of Warcraft III. I don’t know if the campaign mode or the final version is going to alleviate that aesthetic feeling of smallness.

Speaking of aesthetics, the graphics in this game are certainty not going to tax your graphics card but it shows that 1C has a good art design team. A game doesn’t have to have Unreal 3 graphics to look good. A good example of this are games like Civilization III, Pharaoh and Evil Genius. Even though these games utilized a very simple graphical style, they got their job done well and are still pleasant to look at now unlike other games such as early Playstation 1 or 2 titles. Majesty 2 perfectly encapsulates the image of a “cute” fantasy kingdom with cartoonish looking characters.

Aurally, the game already sounds fantastic. There was no voice-acting in this build and I don’t know if it will be included but the music was top notch. It has this epic “Elder Scrolls: Oblivion” that makes you feel like you’re a king somewhere in Middle Earth.

Majesty 2 will hit in the second Quarter of 2009 on both on PC and DS and even in this early stage of development it looks like it be a fun game for the long neglected fans of the original Majesty.

Diehard GameFAN will have a full in-depth review for Majesty 2 of the game whenever it’s released later this year so check back then to see our opinion on it.



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