The Settlers: Heritage of Kings Review
|Publisher:||Ubisoft / BlueByte|
|Genre:||Real Time Strategy|
|Official Site:||The Settlers: Heritage of Kings|
|Release Date:||February 18th 2005|
|Reviewer:||Craig Dudley (Mani)|
|Buy now at Amazon|
Settlers games have eaten many an hour of my free time over the years, going all the way back to the first Settlers game on the Amiga in the early 90's, as such it's clear I'm a big Settlers fan. I even replayed both Settlers 3 and 4 in the last 6 months in preparation for the latest game in the series, The Settlers: Heritage of Kings.
This is the first Settlers game that runs in full 3D, and frankly it looks great, While you still get the same top down view by default, you can zoom and pan around to your hearts content, .
Settlers 5, also has very detailed characters that look great from any distance, each individual is wonderfully animated, as with the previous games in the series. The environments are also highly detailed, trees sway and twist in the wind, the water in lakes ripples nicely and even the waterfalls look believable. The weather effects are also superb and do actually change the map, in winter lakes and rivers will freeze over allowing you to cross into previously inaccessible areas. Rain is also impressive to look at. I certainly don't remember seeing an RTS that looks better.
I can't fault the games sound effects at all, as with all the Settlers games, moving over a building will have you hearing relevant sounds, you'll here your Smithy banging his anvil for example, very nice sounds they are too, even the other environmental sounds are extremely good. Add this to the excellent graphics engine, and you have a really very good game engine.
The music fits the game quite well, though unlike previous games, you only get the one tune. It's quite pleasant however and on occasion it does change somewhat as battles break out, I certainly can;t pick faults here, though a little more variety would have been nice.
The voice acting however, is not in the same league. Some of the voice overs are silly, couple that with badly translated dialogue and you have a recipe for some amusement that ultimately leaves an annoying bad taste. Oh dear was a phrase I used a lot while listening to it.
Archers or Turtles?
Some pink guys getting
She's a 'Robber Knight' you know
I always bang on about gameplay and in this case it's where Heritage of Kings really falls down, it's lost almost all of the series' micro management charm, and unfortunately it's been replaced with bland and simplistic resource collecting with some technological researching thrown in. Basically it's derivative in almost every way, I don't think there was a single thing in Heritage of Kings that I haven't seen many times before, If you've played Age of Empires, Warcraft 3 and Dawn of War you've seen just about every gameplay feature in Settlers 5, very few of it's gameplay features have been inherited from it's forbearers, and that's a very big shame. Perhaps the only one I can remember is the dubious task of building irrelevant statues and obelisks to make your Settlers happy, first used in Settlers 4.
I actually really wanted to have to struggle with managing lots of little micro economies that work together to create military power as in the previous games, but it was just not to be. Find resources, collect resources seems to be the order of the day, nothing new.
Even the use of hero characters, circa Warcraft 3, doesn't help. In fact, it started to annoy me after a while, they can't die and that just increases the feeling that you can't actually lose a mission, play poorly and it will just take you longer to complete. Heritage of Kings also uses squads in combat, as seen in Warhammer 40k: Dawn of War recently, I'm really not a fan of this feature at all, in fact, I hate it, it was my biggest bug bear with the otherwise very good DoW.
I seem to have done nothing but attack Heritage of Kings and it probably deserves most of it, as a Settlers fan I feel horribly let down, but it's certainly not bad game. It just doesn't feel like Settlers anymore, it feels like a mixture of a dozen other games instead and as such, a little stale. I'm guessing BlueByte wanted to do something a little different from the previous 4 Settlers games, and bully for them because they have. Unfortunately lots of other people had already done it.
This guy makes bricks
And this guy doesn't
Pissing it down
Be careful with that
Unfortunately Heritage of Kings doesn't live up to it's predecessors, the gameplay is a mere shadow of it's former glory, the best single word I can think of to describe it is 'derivative'.
It's a great engine, with a poorly designed game sat on top if it. A big let down for a long time Settlers fan like myself, let's hope Settlers 6 will play more like Settlers 3 and 4 than Heritage of Kings does.
The single player story is extremely dull and in places simply daft, I'm guessing that's because it's been very badly translated from it's native German. It also includes a number of spelling mistakes, incorrect grammar and on occasion use of a completley wrong word. I could be wrong though, maybe it's as bad as is this in German too.
A disapointment for me, is the total lack of a skirmish mode, if you want to play a multiplayer game, you'll have to play a human. Even that will probably not be much fun, unless your opponent tells you a few jokes.
Finally, it's a perfectly average and sometimes engaging RTS. If you love RTS games, it might be worth a try. If you love Settlers games and their unique style of micro management and warfare, your'e better off ignoring it as you'll only get upset.
- Great graphics
- High quality sound
Not so good stuff
- Poor story with bad voice acting
- No skirmish mode