Kohan II: Kings of War
Score: 8.0 / 10
From the time of Ahriman's Gift, the follow-up to Immortal Sovereigns, to now the third game in the Kohan series, the gameplay has really matured. Where Ahriman's Gift had some good ideas but lacked some focus, Kings of War is completely streamlined in unit balance, battles, resource collection and technology development. While I thought the previous games were good, with Kings of War, it looks as if the Kohan series is ready to take the next step into the RTS elite category.
story follows along the battle of good and evil between some newly
awakened Kohan (immortal Gods that can be killed but will reawaken
without their memories), and the forces of evil that revive a demon.
While the story is serviceable, as an interesting plot, it is seriously
lacking and it feels as if the story is simply a stage for which the
levels are given an excuse to happen. The only real problem with this is
that the types and variety of missions are almost always the same with
little variety in the objectives or in the strategy to be applied.
However the game was still able to hold my attention through the single
player campaign by providing the constant satisfaction of conquest.
Kings of War has five civilization types. Each one has bonuses and penalties and you will play as each different party through out the single player campaign. When playing through the campaign, I didn't really find the differences in the civilization types affected the way I was able to play through each mission. However there were some differences in the ease with which I could execute my style of strategy and gameplay and this can be attributed to the differences between the race types. I'm sure that with some time, and more time playing the game online against human opponents, the unique elements of each race would become more evident. The unit types for each race are similar in functionality, with the main differences in appearance and some minor differences in individual strength and weakness.
Units are grouped into companies with
a leader, four front line units, an optional paired support unit and two
more optional individual support units. You also have the option to
create custom companies where you are able to choose the frontline, and
support units. In this way you can mix and match companies to create a
balanced or specialized company tailored to its use. Additionally, you
can save your custom companies so that you can quickly create them with
one click rather than having to select the individual units each time.
can also be grouped so that commands can be issued to large groups as
there is a company selection limit. One point that is missed is that
while there are formation selections that can trade off speed for battle
efficiency at the company level, there is no formation selection when
selection groups of companies. While you a group of companies will hold
the manual configuration that you set them up in, there is no quick way
to form a group of companies. This can lead to problems where if not
properly overviewed, your troops can lose a battle or suffer greater
losses than they should have, had they been in the proper formation as a
the game you will have hero units that can be grouped with your
companies. Should all heroes be already attached to existing companies,
your leader unit will default to a standard commander or leader unit.
Companies and heroes can gain battle bonuses with the more experience
that they gain. This is important because as long as your hero, leader,
or at least one of the company troops stays alive, they can regroup near
a town, or fort and be re-supplied. This means that the company will once
again have all troops alive. This is an interesting twist because once a
company loses enough troops or has its morale broken the will retreat.
This forces the aggressor to pursue the last troop or troops until they
are completely destroyed. If the company is not destroyed, they will
gain experience from the battle and can regenerate all troops such that
they can come back stronger and more difficult to destroy.
The resource capturing is something that I really found to be enjoyable as it is streamlined and generally hassle free. Rather than having to have worker units traveling back and forth between a resource point and the main town, mines are created on resources with no additional upkeep needed. Resources are needed for maintaining companies. For instance a swordsman will require one unit of iron to create and have that troop on the field at all times until the company that that swordsman belongs to is destroyed. It is possible to go into negative resources to create troops, but this will reduce your gold production. Gold is required to build mines, buildings and new towns. Also it is used to develop new technologies for your battle effectiveness. While gold can be hard to come by, the technologies that can be researched can really turn the tide of a battle. As such the generation of gold is quite important to defeating the enemy and its generation can be quite difficult. One thing holding back the production of gold is the creation of new towns. Towns can only be created on settlement spots and this forces players to battle to control and defend these strategic spots on the map. While as a strategic element this is a good thing, it can slow the game down in the single player campaign as the enemy AI can be too passive in the normal and easy settings leaving you to slowly collect your resources so that your forces are strong enough to go out and conquer the next settlement spot.
the normal difficulty setting most veterans of the genre are bound to
find the game too easy. While strategy gaming isn't my forte, I was able
to handily defeat the computer in most of the levels on this setting.
With the hard difficulty setting the game does pick it up creating a
more aggressive enemy tactic. However the unit AI for both friend and
foe alike display some faults that are consistent in all difficulty
settings. For instance, the battles and sending your troops into combat
can be somewhat nerve wracking. You may desperately try to withdraw your
troops back to a resupply point but they will refuse to withdraw until
they have been routed. When that happens they will run blindly away from
the action paying no mind to where the closest resupply point is. Also,
when setting up your troops in a defensive capacity, there will
frequently be situations where one company will not attack although the
company next to them is engaging the enemy.
In terms of value and the production values, Kohan 2 is good enough but is nothing special. It has the general online play modes powered by Gamespy arcade. The graphics are serviceable but are nothing special and all of the cut scenes are handled in engine. If forced to point out one reason why Kohan 2 is a good game, it would be difficult to pick out one thing. It is safe to say though that the game has some very good gameplay developments and that it is really addictive. While not the cream of the crop as a series in the RTS genre yet, it looks as if they are on the right track to make it so with the inevitable next installment.
- Mark Leung
(December 13, 2004)
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