I don’t know what house prices are like in Ardania, but I imagine they’re pretty cheap. Sure you may look at the advert and think, wow, rustic country houses sporting sizable living spaces and open fires with pleasant forests and green pastures surrounding this idyllic village green. You pay a visit and all is nice, green, clean, and calm – then the Wolves, Bears, Rats, Fire Elementals, Lightning Elementals and Werewolves attack and you begin to realise that the advert was in fact a fantastic piece of estate agent fiction, rivalling the works of William Shakespeare himself.
Majesty 2: Battles of Ardania is the second expansion pack for Majesty 2: The Fantasy Kingdom Sim that was released a while back. It is also one of the most sold games from the Paradox Interactive stable, according to Gamersgate. Why? It could be the eight new missions you have available, or the new monsters included with this pack? Perhaps it’s the four new multi-player maps and new weapons? Most likely, it just because it’s so frustratingly addictive.
The story? The welcomed return of Sean Connery’s stand-in starts off with the underlying humour found in the original game, in the campaign cut-scene. He speaks of the wonderful Ardania, brought to peace by it’s magnificent ruler (which is you) and that the locals are enjoying basking in the sunshine and lolling around all day, doing very little. However, as per usual, there are those who want power and are willing to do all sorts of nasty horrible things to get it. This being Ardania, things are prowling in the darkness and what’s all this about a Mage-Werewolf? All very mysterious. Battle through the missions and put a stop to this plague upon your land and no doubt you’ll find out.
The original game, M2:TFKS, rated highly with its new concept of RTS gaming – where instead of controlling units for battle or resource collecting, you instead raise flags and place a bounty on that particular flag. I had a problem in the original game and, subsequently the first expansion pack, in that heroes have the tendency to ignore the obvious, like a group of Skeletal Warriors laying waste to a house in front of them, and instead, wandered off in search of something to do. Only by putting up a substantial amount of gold on a bounty did any of them ever bother to do anything, and even then they seemed to be blinkered in their approach to it. But Battles of Ardania, appears to have eased this slightly. Heroes need very little bounty to get off their backside and do what you hired them for in the first place and their ability in combat has greatly improved as well.
Graphics, music, sounds and controls are the same so you don’t have to re-learn too much if you already know the game. Your advisor is as comic as ever and the game’s core humour, such as funny named heroes and cut-scenes, seems to be back from the break it had in the first expansion pack. But, as in that first expansion pack, Kingmaker, the difficulty level can have you gasping for breath again. The first mission on the Kingmaker pack was extreme and left several bald patches on my, already thinning, head, so I was prepared this time.
Everything started off okay, buildings went up, I wiped out a few wolf dens, treasure chests were found and opened. Then, all I did was leave the screen for a moment or two to collect a cup of tea, when I came back my town resembled that scene on 2012 when the survivors look down on a wasted L.A. I won’t print what came out of my mouth, but suffice to say it wasn’t pleasant and questioned the parentage of the heroes and the peasants. Needless to say don’t be fooled, this pack is as hard as the last, if not harder on some of the missions. Those blasted Werewolves just keep coming and they have the ability to wipe out several heroes and buildings before I finally manage to bring them down. Be prepared, once again, to visit the graveyard to resurrect your fallen comrade’s.
However, apart from the above, it’s still a worthwhile expansion to an already very good RTS. It keeps the game alive and keeps those who like Majesty 2 fixed to the monitor for a good while longer. There’s not really much else to this expansion pack. Yes, you could argue that, as Kingmaker was, it’s the same old stuff repeated. But if you’re a fan of Majesty 2 then get Battles of Ardania, you will love the fantasy RTS element, but as you already probably know, you have to get into it. My only worry, is that Paradox may be beginning to flog a dying horse and that difficulty level could have gamers leaving Majesty 2 to gather dust on their shelves.
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