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Paradox Interactive



Black Sea Studios



E (Everyone)



May 2005



- Deep strategy for fans of the genre

- Complete if somewhat cumbersome interface

- Surprising enemy AI

- Don't have to play the traditional real-time strategy sections

- Good replay factor



- Many of the buildings are nondescript

- Intricate strategy can be overwhelming at times



Review: Crusader Kings (PC)

Review: Shogun - Total War (PC)

Review: Rome - Total War (PC)

Review: War Times (PC)



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Knights of Honor

Score: 7.6 / 10


Knights of Honor is a strategy game with a capital "S."  The "S" could also stand for "stay away, unless you're a strategy fan" because it's liable to cause an brain aneurysm for anyone that does not lean toward the genre.  That said, strategy fans should get quite a kick in the brain from Knights of Honor.


knights of honor review          knights of honor review


Knights of Honor features two distinct modes of play: the traditional real-time strategy point-and-click skirmishes and the more thoughtful campaign mode, which has so many options available the menus become almost overwhelming.  While the point-and-click skirmishes hold their own in terms of entertainment, the real meat and potatoes -- and I'm talking a 64oz. steak and a baked potato as big as your head -- is the campaign mode, which puts you in control of a myriad of heavy choices and make-or-break decisions, which may or may not provide you a measurable advantage at a time when military might just wasn't enough.


The place is Europe, the time is the Middle Ages.  A mighty military presence was obviously a plus -- a deterrent to your enemies and an attraction for potential allies -- but sometimes a battle was won or lost in the political arena, even before swords clashed.  This is where Knights of Honor excels.


Knights of Honor takes place in "real time" but you'll have to make heavy use of the pause function to issue orders, size up your opponents or consult with allies, review stats and generally make weighty decisions without the tick-tick-tick of real-time.


Really, the first step to any strategy game like Knights of Honor is establishing alliances and trade agreements with surrounding territories so you have someone to watch your back should you be threatened by a mightier power.  Of course, alliances also swing the other way -- should an ally get in trouble they may ask for help.  Or worse, they ask for help in attacking/defending against another one of your allies.  That's when you really have a pickle on your hands -- a big, big pickle. (That's usually when one of your knights turns out to be a spy.)





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Sometimes the pickle can be made a little smaller by the choices made when creating your knights (i.e. middle managers), which serve a variety of purposes such a merchant knight which provides bonuses to your trade stats.  There is a decided emphasis on city management (and therefore resource management).  Unfortunately, there are a lot -- emphasis in bold, a lot! -- of buildings that you must become familiar 


with and for the most part they all look very similar.  After a few campaigns, you will be able to spot the buildings you want but until then there's much clicking on buildings to see what they are.


The same indistinctness can be said of the various unit types during the traditional real-time strategy portions of the game.  Units tend to be on the "globby side."  It can lead to some aggravation for sure, but the these sections can be handled automatically, without any input from the player.  Of course, you're more assured of victory if you're at the controls because the combat sections are fairly deep, with terrain, etc. playing a role -- all those factors that mostly fly out the window when playing testosterone-pumping 3D strategy titles. 


knights of honor review          knights of honor review


And on that very subject -- the presentation -- Knights of Honor is firing on cylinders from a few years ago.  There was an obvious balance that the developers were going for.  The conventional wisdom is that hardcore strategy games necessarily have to have lower production values.  After all, there's all that development time being put into making a realistic, tough AI and thought-provoking gaming experience, what's left for making a whiz-bang display of next-gen graphics?  Not much, but strategy fans aren't likely to complain.  Aside from the somewhat muddy units and buildings, Knights of Honor comes off with a serviceable presentation.  It has some rich color and cutscenes, and some okay voice-acting.


Knights of Honor ranks high when it comes to replay factor.  I'm talking three historical periods and 100+ kingdoms to "take to the top."  I have yet to have one game play out even close to a previous campaign.  Each game is unique with its own set of circumstances and considerations depending on where you start and who your neighbors are.  There is also a multiplayer portion, but it's limited to the combat sections of the game.  (I imagine because if it were to include the overall strategy package, games could drag on for weeks.)


Although it faces some high-profile competition from the likes of Rome: Total War,  Knights of Honor is no less worthy of being picked up by strategy fans.  It has a few areas where the whole package could be tightened up, but the strategy is deep, delicious and crispy like bacon, which is what you want in a strategy sandwi-- I mean, game.


- D.D. Nunavut

(May 30, 2005)


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