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Game Info:

Lionheart: King’s Crusade
Developed by: Neocore Games
Published by: Paradox Interactive
Release date: October 8th 2010
Available on: PC
Genre: Real Time Strategy
Single/Multiplayer
ESRB Rating: Teen for violence
MSRP: $40

Thank you Gamers Gate for sending us this game to review!

Christians today are still being blamed for the Crusades, even though it took place hundreds of years ago.  In Lionheart: King’s Crusade, we get to re-enact the Crusades and change history.  There are two single-player campaigns: you can play as the Crusaders conquering the Middle East, or as the Saracens taking it back.  The Crusader campaign has tutorials and is generally easier than the Saracen one, so it’s recommended that you start there.  Along with the single player campaigns, you can create your own scenarios or play online.

In the Crusade campaign, your main hero is King Richard the Lionheart.  You start off with his army and a handful of units.  Your goal is to conquer and secure all sixteen territories of the Middle East.  There are four factions that will aid you with tactical advice and reward you accordingly.  The French, Templars, and Holy Roman Empire compensate you with unique units, heroes, and discounts on upgrading and purchasing units.  The Papal faction is the only one able to reward you with faith points.  Heroes have the ability to equip relics which become more powerful as your faith meter increases.

Recruiting and upgrading units gets expensive and those discounts you earn really help.  The money system is in ducats and you can earn ducats by conquering territories, selling unique items and relics, or by solving territorial disputes.  Often times, those disputes cause you to gain or lose favor with some factions.

Highlights:

Strong Points: Great 3D graphics, lots of detail. The attribute system adds RPG elements to the game; there are plenty of unique items and abilities available for the units.

Weak points: When this game was released it was incredibly unstable; the latest patch has helped tremendously.

Moral Warnings: You’re basically re-enacting the crusades.  Fortunately, there\'s no blood or gory details.

 

Each unit has its own set up attributes and abilities that you can unlock.  The attributes include attack, defense, morale, and stamina.  On top of that, there are abilities that you can add to give a boost to one of those attributes.  The heroes have boosts that impact the whole army or just the units nearby.  You can add a limited number of healers, leaders, or priests to your army as well.  The healers will heal units after a battle, the leaders act like a hero to their squad, and the priests add morale to the group they’re in.  After a battle, you can put some units in a resting area to regain 30% health free of charge.

On the battlefield, the different units have their own unique strengths and weaknesses.  For example, archers don’t do well in the night or foggy conditions.  However, they do excel in forest terrain and surprise attacks.  Spearmen are great at countering horse charges and horses slow down considerably in forest terrain.  There are various formations you can use that will either make the army move faster or make them more susceptible to arrow attacks.  Potions can be used in battle to slow down enemy forces or enhance friendly units.  Most of the potions are temporary but some potions have permanent effects such as increased damage.

Some battles require you to set up defenses and traps.  You get to play with trebuchets, ballistas, catapults, spike and oil traps, and much more!  Before a battle, some factions allow you to do preemptive strikes including bribing the enemy to make a fleet join you, poisoning their well to reduce hit points, kidnapping to make a unit flee, or spreading rumors to reduce their morale.

Morale is a key component to fighting; if a squad loses morale they will turn tail and run.  Sometimes they will stop running, but if they’re beaten down badly enough, they will leave the battlefield.  My favorite way to make an enemy lose morale is to have multiple archer units attack the same target.

Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score: 82%

Game Play: 16/20

Graphics: 9/10

Sound: 8/10

Interface: 5/5

Stability: 3/5

Moral Score: 81%

Violence/Gore:6/10

Language: 8.5/10

Sexual Content: 10/10

Occult Supernatural:8.5/10

Cultural/Moral/Ethical: 7.5/10

Controlling the units in battle is like many other RTS games where you select your army or individual units and right click on the map where you want them to go.  The Calvary fleets move much faster than those walking on foot, so make sure they’re not running into a swarm of enemies without proper backup.  There is an option to speed up the battle sequences up to four times the normal speed; I love that feature.

Much of the above is the same for the Saracen campaign but there are some major differences.  There are no factions to please here; your main goal is to take back your country from the infidels.  Whenever you regain territory, you get upgrade points.  The points help you reduce costs, earn new abilities, or gain access to new units.

The multiplayer and scenario modes allow you to play either side in one of two battle modes.  The tactical mode requires that you conquer all but one victory location.  In Free-For-All you must eliminate all of your enemies.  The game sever decides the map and the initial amount of ducats and resources available.  As fun as this game sounds, I was not able to find anyone to play against.  There are no bots and there are separate executables for single player and multiplayer games.

My main gripe with Lionheart is the lack of stability.  It’s so bad that I was not able to complete the Crusader campaign.  Thinking that my save was corrupt, I created a new save and got to see the enhancements of the upcoming DLC, New Allies.  I like the new heroes available with the DLC, but the stability was even worse. Fortunately, the latest patched has helped quite a bit.

Graphically, this game is pretty detailed.  It\'s 3D rendered, and when there’s a lot of units and trees, it can bring my quad-core equipped with an ATI 5870 to its knees.  By default you’re in a third-person overview perspective.  You can zoom in so much to see the blades of grass and dust clouds from moving feet and hooves.  The soldiers look identical, but if there’s a hero in a squad, they are noticeably different and much taller.

The music is pleasant to listen to, and often got stuck in my head.  It’s very fast-paced and gets your adrenaline pumped for battle.  The voice acting is fitting, and there are various voice actors with unique accents for the different factions.  When you select a unit in battle, they will recycle various phrases like “For the king!”, “Ready for battle” and so on.  I wish the phrases were more unique, so I knew which unit I had selected.

When it comes to appropriateness, we are fighting the Crusades here.  There’s a lot of violence and unethical tactics being used.  There’s not much blood or gore, so no worries there.  There are references to drunkenness and some harsh language is used.  Enemies are seldom courteous towards one another.

With that said, Lionheart King’s Crusade is a fun strategy game with RPG elements. The promise of DLC packs sounds encouraging and hopefully multiplayer game play takes off because the game is fun to play when it works. I’m personally not comfortable with religious warfare, but if you don’t mind that aspect or possible desktop crashes you may find this game enjoyable.

 

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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