It all started with the theft of the crown. After that things went pretty much downhill for you as the ruler of Ardania. A group of priests, known as the Conclave, have summoned the Spirit of the Kings and have instated it as the righteous ruler of Ardania, and would you Adam and Eve it, those backstabbing nobles are backing them as well. And that’s the thanks you get for ridding the land of the demon lord, stopping the advance of the goblin army, killing the mage-werewolf and generally being an all round brave, pointy-chinned King. Luckily your faithful advisor managed to get you out of the castle before the usurpers arrived and both he and you have fled into the forest to re-group and come up with a plan of action. Meanwhile the kingdom is under new management and everyone seems to have forgotten all about you, what short memories people have. What to do? Raise an army of course, and who better than the goblins, rat-men, vampires and other nasties you spent the last Majesty games slaughtering. Thankfully they also have pretty short memories, but they don’t trust you just yet. You will have to earn their respect and become the monster king to regain your throne and kingdom again.
This is the third expansion pack for Majesty 2: The Fantasy Kingdom Sim, following Kingmaker and Battles of Ardania. And in my, most humble opinion, it’s the best so far. Paradox Interactive and the developers have done such a great job in nailing down most of the glitches and fine-tuning the game engine and playability that this really deserves to be a game of its own, as opposed to being an expansion pack.
Your advisor, the Sean Connery sound-alike, is back in full swing with a new and funny script to work from. He is as ever helpful, if you can call what he says as anything remotely resembling helpful, but nonetheless his advice is usually on the ball (probably because he’s programmed that way) The graphics are the same RTS semi-isometric style that we know and love so dearly, but with the addition of new units, new buildings, monsters, maps and missions – another ten new missions to be exact, together with all new multiplayer maps to have a go at. This represents a significant change to the town and buildings you have available, for instance, you have gnomes doing the work the peasants did. They still have silly looking hats, but no fishing rods unfortunately. The cemetery, where you resurrected lost heroes in battle, is now replaced with a gate to Hell, and my personal favourite, Vampires are now the new tax collectors – why? Well because vampires make the best tax collectors, obviously!
The music and sounds are all altered for the new monster look and feel and really bring out the inner beast. The combat system still differs from the RTS norm by using the familiar flag and bounty system. As with the previous expansions and the main game it can take some getting used to, but since you require the main game to play Monster Kingdom then you should be more than used to it by now. On that note, whereas in previous Majesty 2 expansions setting a stupidly high bounty appeared to be the only way to get your heroes going, in Monster Kingdom the goblins, rat-men and others seem only too eager to follow the flags. More importantly, they also appear to have applied for Mensa this year as their AI is far better than the previous games. They defend their town better, they work in a melee team better, they don’t ignore treasure chests, and although they don’t look very nice, and most likely smell worse, they are far better to deal with than humans. In fact I should have gone over to the dark side two expansions packs back, the rats are better at fighting than the human paladins.
There is still the problem with beasts streaming out of the sewers – although in the monster town it’s giant cockroaches – which means you have the enemy appearing right in the middle of your town. But as I said, the local guards and monsters can deal with them without too much trouble. Another of my major gripes with the Majesty expansion packs to date has at least been rectified: the dreaded difficulty levels. In the previous expansions the difficulty settings were defaulted to astronomical, in Monster Kingdom it’s a lot more manageable, as in the original main game. The first level, although challenging, gets you used to the different units and there’s a steady learning curve that is easy to get your head around, instead of banging it against your keyboard.
I’m very happy with Majesty 2: Monster Kingdom. It feels like the original game is back together with the humour, clever game engine and playability. It’s certainly a change playing with what were previously regarded as enemy units, but it’s also one that can keep you glued to your monitor until the bitter end. I can’t see what more Paradox Interactive can do with Majesty 2. Although they’ve come up with a cracking expansion this time, it would be a shame if they ruined it by releasing any more like the previous two. I’m sure though they have something up their sleeves, until then, enjoy Monster Kingdom.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary PC code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to email@example.com.
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