Posted by Steven Carter at 10:31 pm on 04.18.2012 (1 year ago)
The Majesty 2 Collection was released in April of last year. It contains Majesty 2: The Fantasy Kingdom Sim, its three expansion packs Kingmaker, Battles of Ardania, and Monster Kingdom, plus assorted DLC content, including an extra tier of weapons and armor for your heroes, themes for your kingdom buildings, and an ice mage temple. I reviewed Majesty 2 when it came out in 2009, so I'll only touch on it here, and I'll mostly concentrate on what you get in the three expansion packs, and if the bundle is a worthwhile purchase.
Both Majesty (released in 2000) and Majesty 2 are roughly the same game. You build up a fantasy kingdom, you populate it with heroes, and you defeat your enemies. However, unlike other real-time strategy games of the same nature, you're not given complete control over your heroes. Instead, you have to put out attack, defend, and explore flags -- and attach money to them -- to encourage your heroes to do what you want.
The main difference between the two games is that the heroes in Majesty wander around and do their own thing, sometimes to the detriment of your kingdom, while in Majesty 2 they just hang out in your kingdom (making it much easier to defend) and only venture out when you place flags. This change removes a lot of the uniqueness of Majesty and turns Majesty 2 into a much more typical real-time strategy game.
The 16-mission campaign that comes with Majesty 2 tells of your ascent to the throne after the king (a long-distant relative) is killed by a powerful demon. You then spend most of your time collecting allies, which turn into heroes that you can recruit, and artifacts, which give you powerful bonuses, before finally confronting the demon and becoming king.
Kingmaker comes with an 8-mission campaign where you take on Grum-Gog, the God of Plague. Goblins, the disciples of Grum-Gog, are your main enemy in the campaign, and they get their own set of kingdom buildings (including houses for gnomes, who can build and repair) but no actual hero units. During the course of the campaign, you investigate why Grum-Gog is provoking you, you develop the antidote to a nasty goblin poison, and you eventually defeat Grum-Gog's powerful avatar.
Along with the campaign, developer Ino-Co also released two things of interest at about the same time (in patches). The first is a "randomize" option, which randomizes the locations of monster lairs, trading post sites, and temple sites, and which drastically affects the difficulty of the missions. This change is available in all of the missions in the collection, not just Kingmaker, and it makes Majesty 2 play a little more like the original Majesty, where the missions were always randomized.
The second addition is a mission editor, which allows fans to create their own missions, complete with scripted events and triggers. Unfortunately, from what I can tell the editor never caught on (it seems as though most people couldn't figure out how to use it), and so you won't find a lot of fan-made missions.
Battles of Ardania
Battles of Ardania comes with an 8-mission campaign where you face off against a powerful werewolf. The werewolf doesn't attack you directly, but instead influences others to turn against you and your allies. That means you have to defend Richard the Lion's Share and his Traders Guild from attacks, foil an assassination attempt, and cleanse the realm of rat paladins (and the ridiculously powerful rat seneschals) before eventually focusing on the werewolf himself.
Monster Kingdom comes with a 10-mission campaign. In it, you're deposed as king, and so you have to use your former enemies -- the monsters -- as your allies to take back what is rightfully yours. This is a fun change of pace for the game, as monsters take on the roles previously filled by humans (goblins archers act as rangers, liches act as mages, minotaurs act as dwarves, and so forth), and you use them to defeat human kingdoms.
Unfortunately, possibly because Monster Kingdom came last, it's the sloppiest entry in the collection. The written text is full of typos, the spoken dialogue never matches the written text, tax collectors never pick up gold from goblin mines (which take the place of human windmills), and the last mission crashes like crazy (probably because there's a huge number of enemy units). Monsters also seem to dislike exploration flags, and so it's tough to get them to reveal the map.
Along with the 42 campaign missions, there are also 16 solo missions. Most of these missions are of "advanced" or "expert" difficulty and take 2-3 hours to complete (at least if you're like me and play them at half speed so you can react to everything). That means the Majesty 2 Collection has over 100 hours of content, easy, which is a pretty good deal for its $20 price tag.
I didn't find the missions to be too overly tough. Majesty 2 has sort of an unfortunate quality where all of the missions play about the same (with only the harassing enemies and final enemy being different), and so once you've found some tricks and strategies that work (like always building your marketplace first), it's usually just a matter of grinding your way through the maps.
Majesty 2 does have some annoying bugs that were never fixed. Most notoriously, loading your game can cause scripts to fire early, and so you might have werewolves attacking your kingdom on Day 4, or a dozen minotaurs and a dragon attacking on Day 19. Events like these guarantee that you're going to lose the mission, and they're annoying when they happen after you've invested a lot of time building up your heroes and kingdom. But on the good side, Ino-Co brought back George Ledoux to play the advisor for all of the campaign missions, and his acting ability alone goes a long way in making the missions more enjoyable to play.
Overall, I didn't like Majesty 2 as much as the original Majesty, given that it watered down a lot of the features that made the original game unique, but Majesty 2 is a solid enough real-time strategy / RPG hybrid, and with all of the content bundled together in the Majesty 2 Collection, it's a pretty good deal to boot. So I don't have any problem recommending the collection, and if you're feeling expansive, then you might want to spend an extra $10 to get Majesty Gold as well and see how the franchise started out.