First Impressions: Got a Circle of Doom? Try Preparation H.
Kingdom Under Fire fans love slicing their way through hundreds of swarming enemies in huge epic battles. So it's not surprising that the announcement of the upcoming Kingdom Under Fire: Circle of Doom would generate a lot of excitement ? especially since this will be KUF with a twist.
Circle of Doom builds upon the previous stories, features familiar characters like Kendal and Regnier, and has the same massive battles and unique visual style as its predecessors. But interestingly, developer Blueside (who also created KUF: Heroes) is making a fundamental shift in the gameplay, moving it from an action RTS to an action RPG. Purists may decry the inability to command and deploy troops but early indications are that this surprising change in genre will not only appeal to longtime fans, but also bring new fans into the KUF fold.
But why the change? Why not? Considering the source material, switching to an RPG seems natural, and it should give the developers greater flexibility to do new and creative things that you just can't do in an RTS ? like explore an engaging and epic story (which was a weak point in the earlier games). The story involves eradicating evil from the Epoch of Light, and will connect the previous games with a future sequel that will return to the series' RTS roots. The choices you make will not only determine what happens throughout the game, but also which of the multiple endings you will unlock.
In keeping with the action-heavy tradition of its predecessors, Circle of Doom will thankfully not be a traditional turn-based RPG, but instead use a real-time battle system similar to Jade Empire and Fable. You will play as one of six characters, which include the aforementioned Kendal and Regnier, the scantily clad elf Celine, the mysterious Curia and two unlockable characters. Each character will have their own story that will link together with the others.
You will be able to use about a half-dozen weapons ? including a wide variety of swords, bows, maces, axes, spears and so on ? which are customizable and can be assigned to each hand. Augmenting your weapons will be an array of items like armor and over 50 powerful abilities and 60 magical spells. You will also be able to string together powerful combo attacks to cut your way through the evil hordes.
And you'll need everything you can get because you'll be facing over 70 types of weird and creepy enemies that will swarm you by the thousands from all sides, sometimes spilling out from the walls, ceiling and floors. Yes, you read that right ? thousands
of enemies onscreen at the same time. Crazy! So from the sounds of it, purists probably won't have to worry that moving to an RPG will diminish the insane battles they know and love.
You will travel across exotic locales like lush rain forests, ancient castles, snow-covered plains, lava fields, inside the guts of a giant monster, and even different dimensions. The many creepy dungeons you'll visit will feature randomly generated levels ? very cool. Even better is the fact that the environments will be completely destructible; hey, who doesn't enjoy smashing the crap out of old castles? Wanton destruction will also be quite lucrative since many objects will hide precious items, while smashing walls can open up new rooms and pathways.
You will earn points as you play, which can be redeemed to level up three sets of attributes: Hit Points, which determine the amount of damage you can take; Luck, which determines the quality of swag you plunder from defeated enemies (the higher your luck, the better the items); and Skill Points, which are required to perform attacks, combos and other actions. Skill Points are used like mana, so if you have 500 Skill Points and use an attack that costs 100 points, you will only be able to attack five times, after which you will have to wait until your points recharge back up again.
You can assign your points however you want, letting you customize your character to your own unique playing style. Do you want to be more defensive? Offensive? Maybe even masochistic? Yes, believe it or not there will be a Masochism Skill that will let you stab yourself in exchange for fresh supply of Skill Points, which could be handy when you're in the middle of a fight and run your reservoir dry. Combine that with the Insurance Skill, which gives you money each time you're hit, and you might find yourself looking for a leather gimp mask and a spanking from Mistress Whipyoulongtime.
The best part is that three buddies can join you in cooperative play over Xbox Live. Players can use their single player character or create a new one from scratch, and everyone in the party will be able to trade their customized weapons and items with each other. As an added bonus, exclusive items can only be unlocked when you play cooperatively.
Visually, the game looks like its predecessors with the same cool medieval fantasy design, ridiculously massive battles and huge environments ? except everything is rendered with higher resolution and much greater detail. The combo attack animations appear similar as before, but are much smoother, realistic and less jerky. The hard metal rock guitars of the previous games will be replaced with a sweeping orchestral score befitting the epic story. This is definitely looking and sounding like one pretty game.