I have always loved the Russian language, I can’t speak or understand a word of it mind, I just find it a nice language to hear. That is helpful when playing this preview build of Paradox Interactive’s Majesty 2 because the majority of the voice overs are in Russian. I won’t dwell on this little occurrence apart from to say that not being able to understand what is going on all the time adds a certain sense of adventure to the game, and there is nothing wrong with that.
Majesty 2 is, as the name suggests, the sequel to the original Majesty from way back when in 2000. The new version is being touted as a ‘real-time strategy game with indirect control’ which is very true; you build your Heroes from their respective hovels and simply place a flag on the map which influences what they will do.
Say for example you want to build a trade post next to a conveniently placed bear den; you right click on the bear den to create an attack flag, put a bit of a reward onto it and wait for the massed ranks of your Heroes clear the area of danger. Until some other foes come along, at which point you create a defence flag on your newly constructed trade post, again add some money to the flag and wait for your Heroes to come to the rescue of that money generating shack.
The lack of direct control over your Heroes is a new idea for me and it will take some getting used to, though you can generally guess what Hero class will take up different tasks. Rangers will be more likely to take you up on your exploration quests whilst Warriors will launch themselves into battle at any and every opportunity, especially if some of your precious gold is involved.
This gold is what makes your economy work, you earn gold through the tireless work of your tax collector, who surprisingly doesn’t get lynched by the peasants whenever he takes their hard earned money from them and deposits it into your coffers. He does often have to run for cover to avoiding being eaten by the rats that will regularly come out of the sewers that you will oft find next to your merry little town.
Being attacked by rats is only the start of your troubles though; soon enough skeletons and wolves will be wandering into your settlement attacking your Heroes and measly peasants. It becomes a bit of a pain in the arse to be frank, at the beginning of levels you will spend more time dealing with the local scourge than getting on with the goals you have been given in that lovely Russian voice.
I have another gripe with the game as it is at the moment; it operates an economic system where buildings increase in price when you build more than one. It is something I have never understood and I don’t understand why developers use it.
One last thing I want to mention is the role the Heroes play in the game, at the end of each level in the main campaign, which follows your quest to reclaim your throne from a demon, you get to make one of your Heroes you made into a Lord. In this way you get to keep your best Heroes and use them throughout the campaign. This is especially useful as your main combatants are able to get new equipment from the blacksmith and learn new skills from their home guild. By hiring a Lord you know that your Hero already has these items and skills and will perform better in whatever tasks you give them.
Right now Majesty 2 is looking a fine game, but not one that is going to appeal to the masses. It doesn’t have the fancy glitz and glamour of the Command and Conquer nor the branding of the Warhammer games. What it will do is appeal to fans of the fantasy genre, and I am sure that with more polish (and with English voice overs) many people will play and enjoy this game, even if it isn’t destined to set the charts a light.