King's Bounty: Crossworlds Review

Eschalon: Book II

Publisher:1C Company
Developer:Katauri Interactive
Release Date:2010-09-17
Genre:
  • Role-Playing,Strategy
Platforms: Theme: Perspective:
  • Third-Person
Buy this Game: Amazon ebay
Introduction

King's Bounty: The Legend and its standalone expansion the Armored Princess are great games. If you haven't yet picked up either then it's highly recommended to start at KB: The Legend and then read this review to determine whether Armored Princess or Crossworlds is right for you.

Crossworlds Content

There was some confusion (myself included) when Crossworlds was announced. Was it standalone? Were the two new campaigns as large as the one in Armored Princess?

I'll explain. The new content in Crossworlds is not standalone and is more a traditional expansion to Armored Princess than anything else. If you already have Armored Princess and the new content sounds appealing, you'll want to buy the most basic version of Crossworlds called simply: King's Bounty: Crossworlds. This adds all the new content (described below) onto your existing install of Armored Princess. If you don't yet have Armored Princess and are ready for more King's Bounty, then you'll want the standalone King's Bounty: Crossworlds Game of the Year Edition, which includes the original Armored Princess and then provides all the new content as well.

Regardless of which version you own, it will all be accessible in a new main menu (except the campaign editor - that's a separate launch). Here's the breakdown of what you'll be getting:

  • The original Armored Princess campaign. This is the exact campaign with no changes.
  • A new short campaign called "Defender of the Crown" (explained below).
  • A new short campaign called "Champion of the Arena" (explained below).
  • A modified version of the original Armored Princess campaign called "Orcs on the March". This provides new items, units, unit mechanics, randomization, and some new quests but otherwise is the same.
  • A powerful and somewhat easy-to-use campaign editor with terrain tool and a scripting language for those either advanced or inclined.

You'll be happy to know that Crossworlds is smart enough to keep separate saves for each of the campaigns, including the three quicksaves as well.

The Two Short Campaigns

What both of these campaigns do essentially is compress everything you might love about King's Bounty - leveling up, choosing skills, building your army from random choices, and trying different strategies - into a series of important battles. After each battle your character (Amelie in Defender of the Crown or Arthur in Champion of the Arena) gains several levels and immediately has access to more of the character progression choices than you would have if you leveled only once. Then the next battle will be suitably difficult to your new powers and the creatures you have access to will also be better.

The difference between the campaigns is mainly in the types of battles. In Defender of the Crown, you face off against 6 strong enemy heroes throughout two areas, gaining several levels between each fight. In all, just an hour or two of playtime with each run through. The replayability comes with the random units in all the shops and of course your choice of the three classes: Warrior, Paladin, and Mage. It's an excellent addition to the core game that provides the same reward as the main game but in much less time.

The Champion of the Arena campaign is a bit lengthier although can easily be done in less than a day as well. In this one you'll play as Arthur and this time features fights against all the bosses of Armored Princess and the Legend. Each fight however is not immediately accessible. It takes some experience leveling up and running around to the various racial guilds (Orcs, Humans, Elves, Demons, etc.), even completing some normal battle "bounty"-type quests in order to be as experienced as you need to be for the next fight.

The entire campaign is set in a smallish dungeon area with easy access to the racial areas (guilds) via portals, each being a nicely crafted though tiny environment where you can, for the most part, buy that race's units. As some races are not friendly toward one another, you'll have to decide which to ally with in order to get their units.

Again, both campaigns generally offer multiple level-ups after each battle and much quicker access to different units, skills, and spells. That each can be completed in under a day bodes well for replayability and quick fixes of King's Bounty. It is worth noting that these two short campaigns have not made use of the new items and units in the enhanced Orcs on the March campaign for Armored Princess. They will however provide everything that the standard Armored Princess campaign had available.