There's a fine line between strategic prowess and judgmental ability. Kingmaker toes this line head on and proceeds merrily down the path towards a satisfying mix of cunning, luck, opportunity and historical (although not always strictly accurate) perspective. In part, this is due to the fact that the game is loosely based on William Shakespeare's somewhat parochial view of history as presented in his drama, Henry VI. It's a wargame at heart, punctuated with elements of strategic insight and common sense. The time is late 15th century England and the royal houses of York and Lancaster are embroiled in the Wars of the Roses, a series of battles pitting politically charged factions against one another with the end goal the contested throne of England. Kingmaker depicts war and combat as it was fought in that long ago age where battles were mostly confined to open country with the occasional siege instigated for occupying a rival faction's home turf. Unfortunately, one of the weaker aspects of game play is the difficult control over the actual battlefield actions but with so much more to deal with in the game this becomes a minor irritant.
Kingmaker adheres to a strict phase-based criteria which could be daunting to a novice player but is efficiently constructed and keeps the action flowing nicely. Each of the phases has precise meaning and all are important to game play, especially the events phase in which random occurrences happen that directly impact on any strategy you may be planning. In fact, plagues, weather, raids, revolts, piracy and political decisions interfere with the best laid plans and can result in total abandonment of (or drastic changes to) your line of thinking. In the combat phase, battles are decided based on simple calculated attacker versus defender advantages, expressed as ratios (for example, 5:1 means a slaughterous triumph while 1:1 gives neither side a good chance of success). Each ratio has a pre-determined percentage of probability for either a victory or inconclusive result, such as 15/85 respectively for a one to one ratio or 70/30 for a 3:1 advantage. However, as in real life, even indecisive battles can result in heavy casualties on either or both sides of the conflict. Eventually, your ultimate aim is to capture royal nobles (heirs) from opposing factions and use them for ransom, political leverage and favor (by setting them free), or resource grabbing. To win, though, you'll have to inevitably eliminate (kill) them so that your favorite son can attain the throne.
The complex game play structure and formidable computer AI combine with a simple icon-driven interface to ensure a rich, rewarding experience. Unusual for a game in this genre, the fun is in the details. Quick turnarounds in a fluctuating game world while guiding your forces to glorious victory or ignominious defeat keep interest and focus at a peak. Graphics are so-so but the spirit and detailed design of the game far surpasses this shortcoming. Kingmaker offers rich game play and a rewarding investment of time.
Graphics: Reasonably attractive medieval artwork and backgrounds but troop icons are difficult to distinguish in battle. Short animated scenes (no impact on gameplay) add flavor and overall look of terrain and environment is adequate.
Sound: Limited use of sound effects but those available are excellent. Voice acting is superbly crafted (with Shakespearian overtones) and the music blends with the game wonderfully.
Enjoyment: Immersive and addictive game play with a "gotta know what happens next" aspect. Many levels of detail are merged seamlessly in a fully designed package.
Replay Value: Multiple options regarding game play levels of difficulty and choice of faction to control, along with enjoyable gameplay insures a high replay value.
Based on Avalon Hill's board game of the same name, Kingmaker is a strategy game set during the War of the Roses period of medieval England. You can play either York, or Lancaster, and your goal is to get your choice for royal heir crowned king of England. You do this by granting titles to people favorable to your cause, and eliminating those who would oppose it. Kingmaker has a simplistic combat interface, rather concentrating on politics and dirty tricks as the strategies of choice.
Kingmaker is yet another strategy game from Avalon Hill although this one is taking place at a different time compared to their other strategy/war games. The game takes place in England where you have succeed getting a person crowned from your faction.
Of course it isn't that simple since other factions are trying this as well. If you succeed the game isn't over since you also have to keep the crown and at the same time destroy any other threat before you can rest on your victory. The game is fairly easy to get started with and with a little game testing you will get the idea of how the game engine works. The computer does offer decent competition in the game so Kingmaker isn't just a game you will win in each time you play but this is also what makes the game funny.
Kingmaker offers a nicely done interface and well done pictures to any events that will occur during the game. Personally I like this since it adds a little extra to the game so you don't get tired of looking at the actual map all the time. A good strategy game not too hard for new players of this genre.
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