The final expansion to Majesty 2, Monster Kingdom, was originally supposed to be released in early December, but was delayed into January. I was very concerned – this was going to land it square in the midst of other releases such as Venetica and Two Worlds II. Fortunately, those games were delayed so I had the chance to spend some quality time with the final expansion to a game I have really enjoyed for the last year and a half. How did they do closing the book on Majesty 2? Read on and find out!
The King would imagine that Ardania belongs to him alone, and his advisor supports him in this ignorance, forgetting that there are two sides to every coin. As mentioned in the ancient scriptures of Murphius: “Try as you might to do something that everybody likes, there is always someone who does not.”
Soon, the hard truth of these words will reveal itself to the Great King in full. And what will he do, and where will he go, should everyone turn against him? Well, not his loyal Advisor, of course, but all those petty nobles and the Conclave. It will be a difficult challenge to maintain the righteous command. Determination will be his greatest weapon, and sacrifices will have to be made. But just how far is the King ready to go in this dire situation?
And the situation is dire indeed. The High Priests have stolen the Crown of Ardania, to summon the Spirit of the Kings and proclaim it the righteous ruler. Your Majesty, you who so bravely defeated Barlog, have lost your throne, and must now fight to reclaim it. The Nobles support the Conclave, and your only hope is to find new allies, those who no one, even you, would ever expect to be join you. Once again you must heed the wisdom of your Advisor, in hopes that with his guidance you may bring peace back to Ardania.
As a reminder, in the fall of 2009 I reviewed the original Majesty 2 and loved it more than I expected. That led to my enjoyment of the Majesty 2: Kingmaker expansion last spring and more recently the Majesty 2: Battles of Ardania expansion. With each expansion the developers have added a new campaign, new multiplayer features, polished some existing issues, but always kept the light hero-based focus the same.
You play as the recently dethroned King of Ardania, and your advisor is by your side as you need to rebuild your forces to retake your kingdom. You have a problem, as the only path to reclaiming your throne will force you to recruit monsters. This turns the feel of the game completely on its head -but rest assured, everything else will seem familiar.
From the start you will find yourself doing largely the same things as before – building barracks and blacksmiths and guard towers to recruit new troops, then send them on quests by assigning a value to a certain outcome. It is a very different mechanism that is unique and therefore feels exciting each time I step into these games: every other strategy game has you directly pushing around your units rather than doing something to make it worth their while.
Also similar is the graphics and sound. The game engine continues to be tuned and optimized with each new add-on, and with all new units under your command there are new graphics and animations for those units and their special abilities. It all worked well before, and thankfully it has only gotten better with each iteration. The voice acting in previous games was witty and over-the-top and that also has remained, but due to taking on the evil role you now get some great new units. The most obviously hilarious are the vampire tax collectors (yeah, I know ‘blood suckers’) – their occasional remarks add quite a bit of fun. The same is true of most of your units – let’s just say that the monsters have a different outlook on combat than the human/elven/drawven troops!
But while the core of the game is essentially similar, there have been a load of subtle changes that result in Monster Kingdom being the best of all the expansions. On both offense and defense units are now more responsive. In previous expansions your units would sometimes be slow to take on challenges even when the reward should have hordes of heroes rushing to your aid. Similarly, at times when being attacked in previous campaigns you could feel that your troops were off picking daisies while your towers were being decimated. Now you will generally find monsters at hand helping to defend your territory (unless you underbuild or spread yourself too thin), and key objectives get the attention of heroes more quickly.
The most common complaint I heard about Majesty 2 and the expansions was that they were pleasant and engaging … and then they hammered you with their difficulty! It was a real turn-off for some, and many folks I know never finished the original game and skipped the expansions as a result. But no need – Monster Kingdom has dropped the difficulty to much more reasonable levels. As a result veterans might find it a bit easy and feel the experience is somewhat short, but I found the balance worked quite well. Don’t get the impression that the game is suddenly easy – you just have the chance of completing some missions on the first attempt.
I have mixed feelings about Majesty 2: Monster Kingdom – but not about whether or not to recommend it! My feelings are mixed because I couldn’t wait for it to arrive, but am now sad that the game is completely finished. Monster Kingdom is the best overall expansion, but in my mind it also completes the Majesty 2 universe perfectly: we have the core game, expansions that add single-player breadth, high level content, much expanded multiplayer, and now the chance to turn the tables. I say goodbye to this fond friend … but hope to see Majesty 3 soon enough!
Review: Majesty 2: Monster Kingdom
Where to Buy: Amazon.com Digital Download
What I Like: Innovative genre-bending game style works well at high level; Love the good-evil twist and how it plays out; Maintains nice light-hearted feel; Decreased difficulty makes it more accessible without making it too easy
What Needs Improvement: Some additional multiplayer content would have been appreciated.
Source: Review code provided by publisher, originally reviewed for VGBlogger