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Majesty 2: The Fantasy Kingdom Sim
Developer:1C Company
Publisher:Paradox Interactive
Genre:Real-Time Strategy
Release Date:September 2009
Article Posted:June 2010
System Requirements

The kingdom of Ardania had enjoyed peace and prosperity for many years. The citizens lived without fear. Evil necromancers and ruthless liches seemed to be a thing of the past. Unfortunately, that was not good enough for the old king. He wanted a chance to prove his mettle on the battlefield. He wanted the bards to sing of his heroic deeds. Thus, he ordered the court magicians to summon a powerful demon. Slaying such a mighty opponent would surely make him a champion in the eyes of the people. The king arrogantly welcomed the demon as it appeared in a cloud of ash and fire. He was certain that he would be victorious, but he had greatly underestimated the creature's power. The battle lasted for five days. The demon ultimately defeated the king and took over the throne.

Now, beautiful Ardania is in a state of turmoil. Citizens flee in terror as giant ogres and fiery dragons roam the land. An army of overgrown rats has started an invasion to the west. An evil wizard has staked his claim on the eastern lands, his tower defiantly reaching into the skies. Vampires and dark wizards are growing stronger. Yet even as Ardania withers under the demon's reign, there is a small glimmer of hope. The last descendant of Ardania's great kings still lives. With the proper training, a new king could be able to stand against the demon. With mighty heroes on his side, a new king could have a chance to restore Ardania's former glory.

In Majesty 2, players assume the role of the young king and attempt to regain control of Ardania from the demon. As the monarch, players do not have direct control of the kingdom and its armies. It is not possible to select a group of heroes and tell them to attack a specific monster or a building. Instead, Majesty 2 uses an indirect control system. Players are given several types of reward flags that can be set on the map, creatures, or buildings. For instance, 'attack' flags can be used to target enemy buildings. Upon placing the flag, players can set a gold reward that will be given to the heroes who participate in the destruction of the building. If the reward is high enough, one or more heroes will be interested. They will attack the targeted building and claim the reward when the structure is successfully demolished. Similar flags are used to encourage heroes to explore the map, protect a character, or defend a building.

The indirect control system is what sets the Majesty series apart from other real-time strategy games. Players cannot sacrifice troops solely for the sake of exploring the map or testing the opponent's defenses. The heroes act independently. They choose which rewards to pursue. They try to run away from fights when they realize they are not strong enough to defeat the enemies. They also make their own decisions about how to spend the gold they earn. Visiting the various buildings you construct for them, the heroes can learn new skills, purchase potions, or upgrade their equipment. They also gain experience and become more powerful as they continue to fight for your kingdom.

The player takes a step back from the immediate action and oversees the development of the kingdom. At the beginning of a typical mission, players are given a small sum of gold and a palace. There will also be a number of houses in the vicinity. Tax collectors will periodically leave the palace and visit the houses, providing income. Players then have to make decisions about which buildings to construct.

Economic buildings include the marketplace and the blacksmith. The marketplace provides potions and protective charms for your heroes. The blacksmith is used to research and sell upgraded armor and weapons. Players can also construct trade posts at special spots on the map. These trade posts periodically dispatch caravans, bringing more income to your kingdom.

Constructing guilds allow players to hire heroes and research new skills. Each guild has a specific type of hero associated with it. Rangers are highly effective with their bows. They also eagerly respond to 'explore' flags, helping you reveal hidden portions of the map. Warriors specialize in melee combat and most readily respond to 'attack' flags. Clerics can heal your other heroes. They are also good at fighting undead monsters. Players can also hire elven archers and dwarven warriors. Accomplishing the mission objectives typically requires using a mixture of different types of heroes.

In later missions, players also have access to specialized heroes through temples. The temples can only be constructed at 'holy' sites spread throughout the map. The temples are dedicated to the various gods worshiped in Ardania. For instance, the Temple of Krypta honors the goddess of death. The 'Sisters of Krypta' you can hire from these temples fight by summoning undead creatures to their aid. On the other hand, the Temple of Dauros provides paladins that are extremely durable and adept at melee combat. Since there are a limited number of special sites available on each map, players have to consider which temples will provide the heroes that would be most effective at completing the mission objectives.

Majesty 2 also gives players access to a number of spells. These spells are available to research at guilds and temples. Casting them can improve your heroes' effectiveness in combat, repair your buildings, or inflict damage on enemy creatures. While the spells require a significant amount of gold to cast, they can be occasionally effective at turning the tide of a battle and help you achieve victory.

The process of constructing buildings, conducting research, and hiring heroes will be instantly familiar to gamers who played the original Majesty. The core gameplay mechanics are very similar to the first installment in the series. However, Majesty 2 does depart from its predecessor in several ways. For instance, the requirement for placing temples at special locations is new to Majesty 2. The flag system is also slightly modified. Defense flags that request heroes to protect certain characters and fear flags that ask heroes to avoid certain portions of the map are new features in Majesty 2. But the most significant difference is the updated graphics engine. The 2D isometric view from the first game has been discarded. Instead, Majesty 2 uses a 3D engine that allows greater control of the camera.

The campaign mode of Majesty 2 offers 16 missions. The first mission is a tutorial that familiarizes players with the controls and the process of constructing buildings and hiring heroes. As you complete the earlier missions, more difficult ones become available. Objectives typically revolve around destroying one or more enemy buildings or defeating a strong opponent. The difficulty level increases significantly as you proceed through the campaign. During the first few missions, monster attacks are fairly rare. You are free to develop your kingdom and direct your heroes as they gain levels and get ready to complete the mission objectives. Toward the end of the campaign however, you will need to heavily rely on defensive structures and struggle to survive enemy attacks. Despite the increase in difficulty, there are viable strategies for every mission. With a bit of perseverance, players should be able to complete all 16 challenges.

As you proceed through the campaign, Majesty 2 maintains a lighthearted atmosphere. Your advisor always offers a couple of jokes during mission briefings. The game also makes several amusing references to well-known fictional characters. For example, in one mission, you will be asked to escort a famous vampire hunter called One Heavensing. While the game is not necessarily hilarious, the attempts at humor does give Majesty 2 a certain charm. When the load screen is flashing messages like 'Your advisor is dressing up', or 'Cleaning the palace', it is clear that the game does not take itself too seriously.

Unfortunately, despite its unique indirect control system and innate charm, Majesty 2 can get a bit repetitive. The developers have clearly tried to keep things interesting by mixing up mission objectives and gradually allowing players to build the more advanced structures. However, several missions into the campaign, you will have essentially seen all the diversity Majesty 2 has to offer. The core gameplay in each mission never truly steers away from constructing buildings to get the economy rolling, hiring heroes, and building guard towers to defend your palace. In addition to the campaign, the game offers several single missions and a multi-player mode. However, upon completing the 16 missions and watching the ending movie, you may not have a strong incentive to explore the additional content.

The campaign missions also feel somewhat randomly thrown together. There is no overarching plot or gradually revealed storyline that connects the majority of the missions. It seems the young king just needs to attend to an odd selection of problems before he is deemed ready to go up against the demon. A couple more cut scenes or more detailed briefings explaining how some of the missions relate to the greater goal of taking Ardania back from the demon would have been helpful.

Fortunately, the issues with Majesty 2 do not significantly detract from the overall gameplay. With its indirect control system and focus on constructing buildings, the Majesty series continues to distinguish itself from other real-time strategy games. There is a certain appeal to taking a step back from battles and seeing the kingdom function from a higher level. Given some of its repetitive and somewhat formulaic missions, Majesty 2 is not a perfect game. Nevertheless, if you are looking for a challenging and charming strategy game that does things a little differently, Majesty 2 certainly delivers.


PC System Requirements:
OS: Windows 2000/XP/Vista
CPU: 2 GHz dual core
512 MB video card
4GB hard disk space