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Kingdom Under Fire: The Crusaders
Game Reviews

Kingdom Under Fire: The Crusaders

Retro hack-and-slash combat with more than a splash of RTS tactics.

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Sometimes remastering a game results in an experience that feels fresh and new! Bayonetta and Vanquish on PC, for instance, could be mistaken for entirely modern games. Sometimes, well…it’s pretty clear where a game’s pedigree came from. That’s the case with the Steam re-release of Kingdom Under Fire: The Crusaders, a classic RTS/hack-and-slash title that was one of the killer apps for the original Xbox. If you missed it way back when, well, now’s your chance to dive in and start murdering armies.

The Human Alliance and the Dark Legion are at war! As one of four heroes, it’s up to you to take the fight to your enemy and turn the tide sof battle. The character you choose will determine your perspective as the war goes on, so Kingdom Under Fire has a fair amount of replay value.

Kingdom Under Fire plays a little bit like Dynasty Warriors with some strategic army control thrown on top – or, if you’re into somewhat less well-known games, Bladestorm. You control a hero character directly while also commanding various types of troops. Proper use of both your avatar and the troops under your control is vital to success, since unlike Dynasty Warriors you’re not especially capable of winning battles solo. There’s a learning curve, to be sure, but aside from the aforementioned Bladestorm there’s also not a lot like it.

As you progress through the game, you’ll level and improve both your heroes and army. There’s plenty of upgrades that affect your skills and gear, so you’re able to customize the experience to suit your playstyle. This goes so far as to changing your troops’ classes, turning them into entirely different units. If you’re a fan of this sort of steady progression from games like Final Fantasy Tactics, there’s a fair chance that Kingdom Under Fire will get your attention.

Kingdom Under Fire: The Crusaders is…well, I guess you could call it a remaster. This is still a game from the original Xbox, though, released back in 2004, so you shouldn’t expect any miracles. Given what they’re working with, Blueside did their best, so this version of the game runs pretty well and I didn’t encounter any significant bugs. One note: you’ll want to us a controller for this one, ideally an Xbox controller, as while there are other options available they don’t tend to work especially well and the game seems to expect that you’re using a device with Xbox buttons; additionally, there’s no multiplayer here so far as I could tell.

A lot of the enjoyment from Kingdom Under Fire: The Crusaders is going to stem from nostalgia. if you’ve played this one back on its native hardware and have plenty of good memories, well, those are going to come flooding back since this is basically the same game. Newcomers, though, may be a little taken aback by just how retro this game might be. As for me…I’m going to hope that the significantly improved prequel, Kingdom Under Fire: Heroes, also manages to make its way to PC.

About the Author: Cory Galliher