Rising Kingdoms

Format: PC
Black Bean

Age Restrictions: 12+
24 June 2005

Equiada is a world in turmoil. For centuries the gods over saw the various races and prosperity reigned over the whole planet. But now the gods have been silent for many generations and the races distrust of each other, and the wars that have been fought, have devastated the once proud cities. Now with weapons of steel and magic the three main races contend with each other for sole mastery of Equiada...

Rising Kingdoms is an above average strategy game. You have the choice of playing any of the three main races: humans, darklings and foresters. Each has slightly different strengths and weaknesses. There are large elements of role playing involved as well. Each race must build up their townships, which in turn allows them to build, what turns out to be, relatively small armies. Helping out each race is a champion who can grow in skill and strength as the game progresses. Throughout the game the various races can increase their abilities by increasing their 'glory', or by finding various hidden items. You expand your empire by conquering the independent colonies. So, basically if you have played any RTS game since Command and Conquer you will know what to expect. Games are like jokes, in that there are only so many original ones and the rest are variations on a theme. Nothing wrong in that if you get it right.

The game includes the usual single player campaign with an above average A.I. opponent, as well as a multi-player option for up to eight LAN or Internet players. The game graphics have a Japanese feel to them; I'm not really sure why I felt that, it just had that feel about it. The action is mostly shown from a god's eye view. Controlling the characters is simple and you should be up and running after playing the tutorial.

The in-game sound is okay but a little too overly dramatic; this makes it sound a little silly in places. Game play is okay; you built your units and go and beat the living daylights out of the opposition. There is a running narrative throughout the game. Unfortunately the game was so buggy that it destroyed any atmosphere that may have existed, even the training mission crashed, and the game froze at various points. Add to this the annoyance of a game that won't even shut itself down properly and you've got hours of frustration ahead of you. To be fair to the developers this is not unusual for PC games, it must be the only market where product hardly ever works out of the box without a number of upgrades.

If it hadn't been so buggy it might have been a more enjoyable experience, but as it stands the game just isn't special enough to overcome this detraction. If you enjoy this kind of game my advice would be to go to one of the forums to see how the bug fixes are coming along before purchasing it. It even might be a good game when they finish it.

Charles Packer

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