My liege, our kingdom is beset by foul beasts and the common folk await your heroic leadership… And so I did, in the Majesty 2: The Fantasy Kingdom Sim Demo that was released yesterday!
Take command of a fantasy kingdom, build buildings, recruit heroes, pay them to defeat monsters, watch your heroes spend that money in your shops and watch your towns prosper. That was Majesty in a nutshell… and Majesty 2: The Fantasy Kingdom Sim is no different.
Majesty 2 does not allow any direct control of units, but works with a system of monetary incentive through offensive and defensive flags. It’s a very unique approach to strategy gaming that requires some time to get used to, but works very well when you wrap your mind around the concept.
So here we have the demo of a new Majesty game, nearly a decade after the first game, by a totally different developer. Not a situation to inspire great confidence in the quality of the end product… or is it?
Let’s just say this demo made me very happy to have a pre-order of Majesty 2 handy…
The demo offers two missions, one being a basic tutorial and the other a genuine level. If the game sticks to the same level ratings as the original, then I’m pretty sure that second mission will rank in at Advanced or Expert. Which makes it an excellent warm-up for the armada of challenging missions to come in a few days, when Majesty 2 is released (September 18th).
One of the very first things I noticed about the demo was how familiar it all felt. And it’s not just that the buildings, units and upgrades are (mostly) identical. It even goes as far as having the exact same lines for every character on screen. Some even feature the original voice actors, like your advisor. Majesty fans will love this.
Majesty 2 almost plays like an expansion pack with a totally new engine. Almost, because there are some notable changes to the gameplay formula, aside from the new female Rogues.
Most notable is that construction seems a tad slower. This makes gameplay a lot more strategic and ensures that you definitely need to build your town in the proper order. This also ups the difficulty level a bit, which is already right up there with Majesty – renown (or infamous, take your pick) for its difficulty.
Some of the other changes include fixed locations for temples and trading posts on the map, guard flags (sweet!), party forming option at the inn, type-specific (melee, ranged, magical) armour and weapon upgrades at the blacksmith, and a few new (and removed) building and hero upgrades. I especially like that trading posts are able to defend themselves when upgraded!
New players might not find this demo very alluring. The tutorial explains (most of) the basics, but it does not prepare you for the Advanced/Expert-level mission that follows. Lasting the entire length of time will take good planning, hero management and knowledge of the available upgrades.
The difficulty level does make it a very enjoyable mission for Majesty veterans. I’ve played it twice now (succeeding on my second go) and I’ll probably play a few more rounds before Majesty 2 comes out. With the level of challenge present there is enough room to experiment with heroes, abilities and strategies.
And the mission itself just screams oldschool Majesty. You have to hold out for 70-ish days against whatever monsters come your way (many of which are new, like Beastmen) and you decide how to go about it.
But just like in the original game, you can’t just sit around in your base. You need to go out and take down monster spawn points, secure the map, so that you do not get overwhelmed towards the end. But you also need to defend your village from raids and gain money from selling gear to your autonomous heroes.
The icing on the cake are the graphics. It looks very much like Settlers 6 and Anno 1404, albeit at a lower level of detail.
The environments feel alive, with actual non-monster critters roaming about. Buildings rise from the ground in stages, with scaffolding in place around them. They are also destroyed in stages, with segments crumbling as they take damage. And combat is similarly dynamic, with heroes being thrown about by ogres, signature effects for every special move and some classic spell effects.
Okay, so it may not be quite up-to-par with the aforementioned games. But it looks a lot better than Majesty ever did, and certainly plays just as good.
I can’t wait for the full version of Majesty 2. I had already pre-ordered it, and this demo proved that decision was more than worthwhile. It’s going to be awesome!
The demo probably featured a fairly early level, which makes it hard to judge how much we’ll be able to build. I presume a lot more than was available in the demo, because the original game featured nearly twice as many building options. Aside from that, I’d like to give multiplayer a go. See how this hands-off strategy experience does in an online environment.
Still, if the demo is any indication, then the new graphics finally do the game justice and the gameplay is spot-on. If you liked Majesty, then you will love Majesty 2. And if you’ve never played Majesty, then you need to give this demo a whirl. Hell if you like it and pre-order now on Impulse (or Steam), then you get Majesty: Gold for free!
You will definitely hear more about this game on GameDrone after its launch on September 18th!
|Majesty 2 – The Fantasy Kingdom Sim [Pre-Order]