King’s Bounty: Armored Princess / Crossworlds
I never played an installment of Heroes of Might and Magic (yes I know, I should be ashamed), but I was always interested in the concept (I liked turn-based strategy ever since I played games from the Jagged Alliance series) and when Steam offered the whole King’s Bounty package (both games + expansion) I jumped at the chance to finally get to know something like it (it’s the same genre as HoMM and also fantasy – close enough).
The game easily met my anticipation and motivated me much more than I had expected (Crossworlds, besides two new and smaller campaigns, is an expansion for the original campaign of Armored Princess, so I started directly with that, because I was sure I wouldn’t play the otherwise identical campaign twice, at least not right away).
What’s basically happening, is that the player is tossed into a game world, that consists of several islands, which can be reached by ship (although the horse becomes a Pegasus during the adventure, it can only fly on the current islands, not from one to the other). They aren’t all accessible right away, because certain navigation charts have to be found (usually guarded by a tougher foe). All of these islands then are filled with characters, quests, items, hidden treasures, shops, dungeons and lots of enemies. The traversing of the game world takes place in real time and only the actual fights are turn-based (duh). There are 3 basic classes usable in fights, troops (that can consist out of many different kinds of creatures and mixing them right often decides battles), Amelie’s (the princess’ name, who can be Warrior, Paladin or Mage – I chose Mage, because let’s face it, as such she wears the least clothes :P) pet dragon (he levels just like the princess herself and learns new powers) and numerous magic spells. The spells are awesome, powerful and usually quite the visual experience (try a geyser!). To round it up, the princess can enlist a “sidekick”, who will have several inventory slots (differs, which items a character can equip) like the heroine, along an ability (e.g. can train certain troop types).
All characters and other creatures are animated in great detail and their movements are too numerous to list. Even when completely zoomed out, individual figures can be seen blinking with their eyes (nice moment to mention that they have beholders in the game) and behaving lifelike.
The story is mostly what veteran players would expect from such a fantasy setting, but it’s definitely okay and not bad at all. It doesn’t feel like it was just copied from something else (and it isn’t). The AP campaign often doesn’t take itself too seriously, without being ridiculous either, that’s very welcome (I hate the King though, for what he does/says in the final scene, after Amelie saved everyone – I demand a sequel :P). The campaign is also quite long, at least when compared to most current games, it takes over 50 hours to complete (I probably played around 70, but I lost track of the concrete time), so it’s usually a game for several weeks. A further plus for me, because I didn’t loose interest at any point. If that sounded interesting, someone might want to read a review about this game.
As for me, I’ll probably start the campaign “Defender of the Crown” next.