I enjoyed the original King Arthur game greatly, which was a surprise since I’m not usually drawn to games like that. My enjoyment of it was such that I went out and picked up this game that supposedly bridges the gap between King Arthur and King Arthur 2, a game that has been met with an almost universal cry of, “Meh, it’s okay-ish!” I figured I could get past the general blandness and lack of freedom that supposedly plagues it, but it never occurred to me that there could be other issues beyond those I saw mentioned; I wound up running into a series of problems so profound and hilariously dumb that even the most tolerant of nuns would rain down a hail of bitter profanities if they ever tried this game.
Okay, so first: it really is okay-ish at times. There are serious problems, but every so often there are moments of surprising fun. These are exceedingly rare, but they’re almost enough to justify the incredibly low purchase price. Almost. It’s worth noting that Fallen Champions is a standalone expansion rather than an actual game, so it’s also surprisingly short. Like, shorter than Tom Cruise—who I’ve heard is shorter in person than you’d expect—after losing his legs in a wood chipper accident. You’ll get a few hours out of it, but it really does come across as being completely empty and devoid of actual content (also like Tom Cruise).
Upon starting the game, you’re given the ability to be any of three set heroes; you can start with any of the three and move from hero to hero between battles, but finishing the game requires you to play through all three stories. The whole game can be broken down into two parts: text adventures and combat. Unlike King Arthur, there’s absolutely no exploration in this game—you just go through a simplistic text adventure to determine the units that you’ll be fighting with, level up your hero and/or save, then go into combat. Rinse and repeat.
This would be fine if not for all the bugs. The text adventures are still interesting, even if they always lead to combat rather than having multiple possible outcomes like the original game, and you can level up your hero to personalize them a bit (though the game doesn’t allow nearly as much customization as the original King Arthur). The bugs are absolutely mind-blowing, however. The first map I played was strange in that the camera was tethered to the selected unit and refused to allow me to stray too far, which created this really weird and uncomfortable “rubber band” effect. It made it nearly impossible to keep track of my army, forcing me to spin and struggle to move the camera just to keep track of everyone. This was a problem exclusive to this one map, but it’s indicative of the weird limits and inconsistencies the game throws at you.
Selecting multiple units is a problem in itself, as well. I mean, the actual selecting is easy enough, but actually convincing them to do anything is a nightmare. Here are two videos demonstrating what I mean:
In the above video, one part of my army encountering an obstacle freezes the rest of the army’s movement, making moving multiple units to a single location way too much trouble. It’s a problem I’ve not-so-lovingly dubbed “Empathetic army.” Why empathy? Because when one of them encounters a problem, they all share the burden. Ho-ho-ho. Here’s another problem:
In the original game, selecting multiple archery units and telling them to fire means they get within range, then unleash a swift and arrow-y death upon their enemies. In Fallen Champions, it means “get right outside of range, then freeze for no explainable reason and refuse to do the one thing they exist to do.” Oh, it’s such fun. That’s not even the extent of units refusing to do what they’re told, either. If your selected unit/units are moving, there’s a chance that they simply refuse to do anything you say until you’ve de-selected and re-selected them. I’ve had units wander to their death because they refused to go where I clicked, instead running head-on into a vastly stronger army.
Each mission comes with weird requirements and limits. “Hold this area for so and so minutes.” “Sneak in and free so and so.” “Use this spell X number of times on X number of stones.” These are required for victory at times, and other times they’re required just to keep your units alive, as in the case of a map where it alternates between day and night in short intervals and you can only move around freely in the night (as you can imagine, moving units into “safe areas” during the day was so much fun with the control issues).
Lastly: the graphics aren’t improved in any way, the music is recycled from the main game, and the few new bits of art are, except for the illustrations of the heroes, painfully dull and generic. I’ll be blocking out my experience with this game, thank you very much.
Here’s what you should do: