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King's Field II Review

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06/04/04
PRINTER FRIENDLY VERSION
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Prop 215 passes, and just look at all that green herb.

Well, you Californians will know what I'm talking about...

'Lyle... in the days ahead, you must grow stronger than you ever thought you could. You must receive the power from the four in order to break my seal. You will face your father and take your land back for the Kingdom of Verdite. I will be with you when the hour is at hand. You must take up the holy sword of your father and win back your kingdom, Lyle. The fate of the future is in your hands.'

With these words sent to you, Alex gave up his soul.

Welcome to the latest game from ASCII Entertainment: King's Field II (King's Field III in Japan). This time you are Prince Lyle, son of the king. Unfortunately the king seems to have gone a bit bad. After recovering from a long illness, the king seems to have become, well, much more evil. Alex, the hero of the first King's Field returns to use his mighty powers to seal the evil father and Verdite castle under a glowing dome. Having expended all his energy he fell to the ground... dead(?).

To help you, Alex left the powers of light, wind, fire and earth (remember collecting those?) with the king's closest (and still on the side of good) advisors. In order to get through the aforementioned dome, there are three items that you must collect: The eye, wing, and crown of Icarus. Once you have them, they can be remade into a key by Leon (Remember Leon? In KF1, Leon makes your sword). In the end, you must face your father and well... it gets kind of Freudian.

So the plot is about the same as King's Field I. There are all those superficial differences, but the essentials are the same: you must hack and slash your way to saving the Kingdom of Verdite. As for the rest of the game, it is much improved.

The graphics are the first thing you'll notice. No longer are you confined to rigorous rectangular Doom-ish hallways. The 'outdoors' in King's Field 1 looked much like the inside of the dungeons. No longer! Rolling green hills, rocks, slopes, and very large open areas are there for you to explore. All the terrain and background graphics have been improved. The pixilation is less than before, and many of the landscapes have a quality a bit like an impressionist painting.

The monsters look much better as well. Like before, all the enemies are true 3D polygons. The level of detail is astonishing. Even the simple, giant, poisonous mushrooms are pretty to look at, and because they can't move, they're the only 'monster' that you can take your time admiring without getting hurt (some of these mushrooms grow REALLY big). The number of enemies is also very impressive. We counted 60 different types! Compare this with other 3D games like Alien Trilogy and Final Doom which have fewer than 10 different kinds of enemies and also use sprites instead of polygons.

The movement of the creatures is smooth as silk. It is also very accurate: when a walking skeleton swings his sword at you, you had better get out of the way.

Another improvement is the inclusion of an automap (hurrah!). Once you get the 'pixies map' you have overhead maps of your progress from then on. Also, there's no stupid 'teleporting level' (double hurrah!). The game is even larger than before, and should take several hundred hours to solve.

Alas there is a price to pay for these glorious visual treats. The movement in King's Field II is fairly slow, and when there are multiple enemies on the screen there is a noticeable slowdown. Add a blue tint and it would look like you're fighting underwater.

Bu the combat is still the best part of this game. This is the only game out there, RPG or not, that manages to combine a 1st person view with a hand-to-hand combat system that is action based and make it all work seamlessly. You must maneuver around your opponents carefully and time your strikes well if you want to be victorious in combat. Daggerfall, for the PC, is another first person RPG (and a very good one), but the combat system is miserable by comparison.

On the other hand, Daggerfall has something that King's Field II lacks: depth. KF2 is a very linear game. While you gain experience and increase levels like an RPG, there is only one character and one plot. You can't be a thief or a magic-user, or anything other than prince Lyle. This reduces the replay value (once you solve it) to nil. Oh well, you can't have everything. But if you could, oh what a game that would be!

ASCII did a marvelous job of improving King's Field and if you loved the original, you'll love this one twice as much. But King's Field II doesn't have anything new or different. The graphics are wonderful and the variety of enemies, weapons, spell and armor will keep you glued to your TV. This is still the best RPG for the PlayStation and comes highly recommended.

A- Revolution report card
  • + Beautiful Graphics
  • + KF Combat Still the Best
  • + Wide variety of enemies
  • - Some Slowdown
  • - 1 Character/Plot only
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