Wednesday, 26 September 2012

A Different Kind of Strategy Game (App Review)

Are you looking for a different kind or just a fun and great strategy game? Are you looking for a game with more details than just a typical flash game? Majesty: Northern Expansion clearly fits those two requirements. There's not many expansion packs on apps. That's usually a computer game thing. However the app DID originate from PC. It's original and unique playstyle doesn't give you direct control over your people. You give your warriors "incentives" to explore(blue flag) or fight(red flag) for you. Increase a flags reward to increase your influence. You have all your major classes of people from the chivalry days and more including knights(warriors), wizards(magicians), Paladins, Barbarians, Necromancers, Healers(not sure on the name), Dwarves, and Elves.

   I must admit that I haven't played the original Majesty:Fantasy Kingdom Sim. The first Majesty game was for the PC and Mac computers and was developed by CyberLore Stuedios in 2000.  In 2011 it was finally brought to your smart devices by the award winning developers of HeroCraft. The app version is quite popular, got declared one of the 5 Winning Games for Tablets by the New York Times, and has more than 100,000 downloads for the paid version.

While playing the game, it becomes clear that the game was a great PC game back in the days. The amount of details put into it's cartoon graphics are not just up to par with todays 2D app appearances, but even surpasses them. So much is going on in the background. During gameplay you can even get information map objects that in no way effects gameplay. The pixels are small, and that's a good thing. Attacks and effects are detailed. The animation of attacks are in sync with the timing of hp being taken away. Trees and rock formations must be walked around, but most of them may be build upon like flat ground. Each hero even has their own name. You don't name them, you just train them and they become available to your influence upon training. The controls are so smooth and precise that it's actually a little unbelievable that this wasn't first developed as a smartphone app. The tutor/adviser or explanations don't just stop after your first mission(tutorial). The extra noobie tips from the game remind you each match, most likely you didn't remember all the units from just the first time around.

Don't feel too much like you don't have any control over your team/minions/empire/kingdom. Decide when to upgrade your buildings or build new ones. Some buildings have requirements and if you try to build one without fulfilling those qualifications, the noticebar will alert you on what you need to work on. The bar will only tell you one of the requirements at a time, but there's usually only 1-2 requirements and they show up from this order (amount of warriors/heroes needed, then amount of gold needed). Other requirements may be to upgrade another building first, or to not currently have another type of building that cannot coexist with the one you are trying to build). If you are trying to make a building that you already have, the new one(s) will cost more than the previous one. Once buildings are destroyed, they are still detailed and can be build upon like it wasn't there.

    When starting you may not have a hero yet. No problem, your castle will have guards that will come and protect your settlement. They have average strength and defense and do not count as one of your heroes. However they are not influenced by your flags and do not level up. Specific buildings, called "guilds" are needed to build certain heroes. Tap on the building to access it's menu/options.Unlike other strategy games (Command and Conquer, Red Alert, Starcraft) you can only have up to 20 heroes maximum. So you can't just build an big army and go on the offensive. In fact, being too offensive in this game will leave less heroes for defense.When creating a hero, or upgrading, a blue progress bar will be shown below that building's health bar. You may not have a building "elven bungalow"  for elves and a building for dwarves at the same time. Having an Elf building doubles your income. Having a Dwarf building increases your building and possibly reconstruction speed. You have to choose. Elves use bows and arrows and can attack far range, but do less than average damage and can take less than average attacks. Dwarfs do little damage but they can take in a lot of damage.

Healers and Necromancers are dark and light versions of each other.  Both their buildings (at stage or level 2) enables a spell to bring up the dead, one by reviving and one by raising the dead. To activate this spell, you must select the fallen target and ues the spell before their body disappears. Necromancers may summon bones(you can also activate this spell once you have their temple) to help a certain hero(must target the hero). Healers automatically heal a surrounding allie. They tend to follow that allie and continuously heal that hero, but may not notice another allie that is close by that may need more help. Both healers and necromancers are fragile and can perish with two or less hits. Necromancers have a really annoying death scream upon dieing.  Luckily there are no mana/mp in the game, but activating a spell costs money.

Most levels only allow you to builder certain classes of heroes. This is usually predetermined and you cannot change it. For example, some of these levels (at least for the beginning) only allow you to build either the paladins, or the warriors of discord (you don't get to decide on these stages on who you prefer between these two).  These two types of heroes do the most melee damage and can take a good amount of damage and cost 1000 gold to hire. I've reached at least one level that didn't let you train any of these two damage dealers. It was a tough round. Mages do the most damage, even doing AoE damage, but can only take a hit or two.

Notes on Expanding 
 As your settlement in each match starts to bet bigger, you will get small houses randomly created around your buildings.  These increase your income, but can also be demolished by the enemy units. Once your settlement is big enough, you will automatically get water fountains to represent your wealth. IDK if these fountains increase any stats like income, but they look nice and will get attacked by enemies and look distasteful once destroyed. As you expand in an area, a sewer entrance/exit with rats that come out of it will appear randomly by your kingdom. These rats will attack your buildings. Usually a tower or two will be able to handle them(but will have more trouble if the rats get help from other attackers). After you have lost a good(or bad) number of heroes, a cemetery will appear that will generate skeletons that will attack you. Although they sound more dangerous than giant rats, they pose about the same level of danger to your neighborhood. If you're not sure what a building does, click on the unit. If you're in the build menu, you can highlight(tap) the building unit, then press the "?" button under the close menu (X) button to get more information. My only small suggestion for a fix would be to include this "?" option for heroes as well because it would be fair to know what they do before making their building and training them. I would also appreciate if the tax collectors were explained, kinda simple and not necessary, but it's an area that feels a little less polish compared to the rest of the game.

 That lightning spell along with that eye spell make the game a lot easier. For a small amount of gold the eye lets you look at an area without having to explore it or wait for heroes to come by after placing a flag. The lightning spell does a huge amount of damage to almost all enemy units except paladins, but come at a huge cost of gold (1500).

WARNING:Some people experience problems with saving their games. I myself had this issue for a few days. I kept trying to connect with the game with the server(allow it to access the internet), reinstall, and restart my phone before trying to play the game. It took a few annoying tries but once it worked, it got fun. Even with saving enabled, I recommend getting a match/round done within a day because for me if I waited too long I would forget the type of build I was going for and the direction in which the enemies were attacking me the most. Sometimes the game lags or slows down for a few seconds during late game. Also, it can my tricky to use spells on a hero during a fight. I once brought an enemy back to life. Try clicking on the unit to confirm who you're targeting before using a spell.

Retreating:You don't decide when your heroes retreat, they do. Once they do, they won't turn back for at least a while. Even though sometimes they can stay and fight with reinforcements, they are in panic mode and rush to get back to base. This makes them take damage that they could had avoided or they could had at least make their last seconds alive useful, but oh well.

If you haven't played before, after a few rounds you may start to wonder "There's a dragon in the main menu, so where are the dragon(s)?" Answer, be patient, they will come into the game. Dragons are cool and not suppose to be for beginner warriors to battle(except in Skyrim), so it would make sense that they would be used later in the game, like a boss. This rightup is a bit disorganized, tends to happen when there are so many different things for me to cover. I will add more to the article if I think of things that I might had left out.

As you will find in the user reviews of the app on Google Play, the game has it's hilarious storytelling moments. The humor really adds to the games experience unless you only want action, you can skip it too. I don't mind the explanations as to why I'm fighting(in a game), even if they are silly and funny. As far as I can tell their is a FREE Lite version with an "L" at the end of the app name. That one contains 3 levels according to one review(it isn't stated in the app description). The three levels don't go buy too quick in minutes so they should give you a good feel of how the full version will be like. The full version of the Northern Expansion costs $3.00 (not $2.99). You may also get the original Majesty app for $1.99 for it's L version for FREE. All four versions have a Google Play rating of 4.4(even number but odd how all of them have the same rating). That's not bad at all. This is still just a Lite review and guide, not a thorough walkthrough as the game walks you through a lot already. I didn't really give any strategy guide because I only played on normal(there's 3 difficulty levels), and part of the fun would be to come up and experiment with your own strategies. Give it a try and tell us what you think.


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