Once again we return to the world of Majesty 2 in the latest expansion, Battles of Ardania. This is the second expansion for the game, providing more content for the lovers of this quirky RTS/RPG title from Paradox Interactive on the PC.
For those that have yet to sample Majesty 2, the player is put in control of a fantasy kingdom. From this position, they can begin emptying the Royal coffers, much like any RTS, by buying buildings which, in turn, unlock further buildings, make more gold, or just allow the creation of heroes. This is where the real difference comes in. The players do not have any control of the people in their kingdom. Peasants and tax collectors will happily go about their business, guards will attack anything that poses a threat in the vicinity of their tower, or the palace. But the main military presence, in the form of heroes that must be hired from the various guilds that can be built, need to be persuaded to carry out your bidding with gold. If not, then they will happily spend all of their time in the Inn, getting drunk.
The player simply attaches a bounty of their choosing to any enemy unit, enemy base, treasure chest or area that they want explored. The higher the bounty, the more heroes that will be interested. Over time, the heroes will become more powerful and level up, enabling them to deal with much more dangerous, and thus more expensive, threats. It takes a bit of getting used to, but the end result is an enjoyable and unique experience.
The latest expansion, Battles of Ardania, brings with it a selection of new content for the Majesty 2 player. The most important addition is the new campaign, but there are also some new multiplayer maps and new weapons and monsters.
As we join the new campaign, we find a Kingdom that is at peace, and a King that is slightly bored. With no monsters to vanquish and no wars to wage, the King is yearning for some action. Be careful what you wish for. When news of a troublesome Werewolf reaches the Kings ears, off to help the Rangers of the southern guild branch you go. Let’s face it, it was never going to be something as simple as a Werewolf hunt, was it?
This new campaign is a great addition to the game and certainly extends the playability. It is a good story with some varied maps and objectives. Majesty 2 has always been a rather chaotic game, in which the player has to move quickly to avoid being overwhelmed. But this campaign seems to have taken the difficulty up a notch, making the game even more chaotic than before. Players will need to know exactly what they are doing and get it done quick, or just find themselves having to restart the scenario. There are lulls in the difficulty, but not many.
The new multiplayer maps are a nice addition, providing a one Vs one map, a free for all map and two co-op maps where the players have to team up to complete the objectives through a storyline. Additional multiplayer maps are always welcome.
The real problem with this expansion is the difficulty level of the campaign. Players who have breezed through the full game will appreciate the challenge, I am sure. But it does not hold much interest to the casual player or newcomer, who will likely find themselves overwhelmed and frustrated. Otherwise, there are no real changes to the core game.
It is always nice to be offered an expansion to a game that you like. But the high difficulty level of the campaign make this expansion only really interesting to those gamers who found the original game easy, or those that play online and fancy a bit of co-op action. Casual Majesty 2 players may well find Battles of Ardania too frustrating.
Majesty 2: Battles of Ardania, from Paradox Interactive, is available on GamersGate