Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Majesty - The Fantasy Kingdom

Majesty breezed a fresh new wind through the RTS genre ten years ago. Here's a game where you do not control your heroes! Instead you can convince them to help your cause by giving out rewards for killing monsters or raiding lairs. While fighting for your heroes slowly gain levels and power. Loosing a high level wizzard will cause you to care! The original majesty was a great game. It's one of the very few games that I replay once a year. Even now it remains fresh which is helped by the randomized mission generation. So I looked forward to its sequel. Having finished Majesty 2 and nearing the finish of its expansion, Kingmaker I can say that it's still a good game but not great.

What is this game missing that the original had? Charm for the most part. The original characters all had their own personalities. You'd have rogues who were the first to go after any bounty... and the first to flee at the first sight of danger. Muscled barbarians ran around the realm in a great homage to Arnolds Schwarzeneggers Conan. Paladins would raid any evil lair in their quests to clear the map of evil and wizards were bearded old men which fit the glass canon archetype perfectly. There was some strategy involved in your choice of your classes. You had to choose between the defense oriented dwarfs or the economy base elves. And taking the powerful priests of krypta meant that you had to do without the all powerful paladins. And even though those paladins were very good all-rounders having a few priests around sure helped when a a dragon decided to pay a visit to your castle.

Both the charm and the strategical choices seem to have vanished in the sequel. There are more classes to choose from but these classes just feel like copies. There's little difference between an elf, a ranger, a beastmaster or an archer of Helia. In the original game the AI would be different. Elves would hang around in taverns and be eager to go for gold rewards while rangers would scout. Here I'd just add any one of them to my party and call them ranged dps. It doesn't really seem to matter which class you add to your party.

Majesty 2 does add a few nice, new extras. The biggest improvement is the inn. You can now gather up to four heroes and create a new group. This group will from then on fight as one. Adding a warrior tank, a cleric healer, a melee rogue dps and a ranger goes a long way towards clearing whatever is in your way. It's a lot of fun to see your group take off to distant lands, kill a great monster and return to your city with their purses full of gold to spend on new equipment in your shops. The new spells each basic class have are also fun. Levelling your guilds means that your heroes can learn powerful new spells. Sadly these spells are not available for the higher tier classes. And most of these spells don't look very spectacular. In the original game getting a wizard with meteor storm was a great achievement. Here anyone seems to be able to pick up the spells and combined with their blandness it's a missed opportunity to add a great new feature.

All in all the sequel does not live up to the original game. For anyone who wants to try out something new I'd advise them to give the original, brilliant Majesty a try. That game still holds up very well after ten years and can be bought for only €5 on steam or impulse. The sequel still offers a nice game and it's well worth giving the demo a try if you enjoy the original. And maybe the DLC can add those special ingredients to make it a great game too.

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