Ah Ardania. This scepter’d isle, this precious stone set in a silver sea and so on. Once again we’re back in that garden kingdom that you fought so hard to liberate in Majesty 2: The Fantasy Kingdom Sim. The demon lord is vanquished; his cloven hoof no longer steps upon the hallowed ground of your beloved land, everyone is happy, the crops are good and the beer is cheap. What could possibly go wrong with this idyllic life? Suddenly you receive a request for help from Lord Blackviper, something about glowing eyes in the forests and the swamps and sightings of little green men wandering the land. All very odd, clearly old Blackviper has been on the juice again, or has he?
Majesty 2: Kingmaker is the first expansion pack for Majesty 2: The Fantasy Kingdom Sim from Paradox Interactive, a game which I rated a 9/10 not too long ago. The game kicks off with your familiar advisor and his wonderful Sean Connery impersonation, which I have to say, he’s either getting better at or I’m becoming immune to. The familiar campaign map displays eight new missions in this expansion pack and with the first mission you discover that the glowing eyes and little green men aren’t the Treens and the Mekon, but rather Goblins, who, under the rule of Grum-Gog, run riot over your peaceful land. There’s a lot more to the story and the war runs deeper than the rampaging hoard but I’m not going to spoil it for you. You’ll have to play the game won’t you!
The graphics, sound, music and controls are the same as the main game, although moving around the map seems to be more fluid. I didn’t notice any improvements to the game engine in the documentation that came with the expansion, perhaps the developers tweaked something here and there? The expansion still supports the same flag raising, combat, exploration etc. system that involves placing a bounty on a flag. The more gold associated to the bounty, the more interested heroes will be in doing whatever it is you want them to, which, unfortunately, also means that the niggles I had with the main game are still there. Enemy den’s appear in the middle of your town and heroes have the tendency to stand and watch a marauding werewolf, despite the king’s ransom on its head, instead of getting in there and showing it the business end of their swords. However, if you managed to play past my gripes with the main game then you’ll be able to do the same with the Kingmaker expansion.
The biggest change in this expansion for me was the difficulty level which, in the main game, rose with a steady curve. Kingmaker, on the other hand, throws you straight in at the deep end and switches on the wave machine. If the last mission in Majesty 2: The Fantasy Kingdom Sim was rated as ‘advanced’ then the first mission in Kingmaker could be rated as ‘all bloody-hell let loose’. It won’t take long before your carefully built, winner-of-town-of-the-year borough is looking more like Stonehenge, as Goblins, Rat-Men, Wolves, Bears and Werewolves attack en-masse. This game is very difficult, so difficult in fact that you end up having to start the mission again a couple of times just to find the best locations for defence towers, as one misplaced unit can tear a hole in your treasury that you never really recover from. Careful use of the researched abilities of the heroes is needed, more so in Kingmaker than the main game, I thought. You will undoubtedly find yourself hitting the ‘exploit’ button of the Rouges quite a few times in order to generate enough cash to raise lost heroes from the dead. An unfortunate problem that will most likely put off most gamers and, although it may seem much of the same, the Kingmaker expansion adds many more hours of play to the Majesty 2 unique RTS engine. If you’re a fan of the main game and you have no problem with the extreme difficulty setting Kingmaker throws at you then I would definitely recommend this addition to an already fantastic game.
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