Kingdom Under Fire II – Will it see the light of day soon?

Of several games I’m looking forward to, the one I’ve been looking forward to the longest is probably Kingdom Under Fire II. It’s an MMO being co-developed by two small Korean studios, Blueside and Phantagram, and the sequel to what might be the most underrated game of all time.

Many moons ago, I discovered a little game for Xbox called Kingdom Under Fire: The Crusaders. It was described as a sort of hack-and-slash/ RTS hybrid, and although RTS’ weren’t really my thing, I wanted to give it a shot. I bought it, and didn’t regret it in the slightest.

It’s a unique kind of fantasy game. The characters aren’t glorified in-game, as the models’ faces are hidden in shadow and the animation is minimal. The environments are simplistic in design with very low detail. However, the gameplay itself is fantastic and definitely one-of-a-kind. The player commands his or her troops and leads them, RTS-style, into battle. Once the armies collide, the camera swings down into the action, and the player takes control of the protagonist (leader of the troops). Then it becomes a fun, satisfying, hack-and-slash-a-thon as you beat down baddies. The enemies come in all shapes, sizes and quantities. It gets more and more intense the further you get into the game, as the enemies become more numerous, and you might find yourself battling several armies at once with several hundred characters on-screen. The enemies also get larger, with giant scorpions, trolls, and the massive Swamp Mammoth joining the fray. “Crusaders” is also interesting from a difficulty standpoint. It’s similar to some arcade racing games, in which each car represents a difficulty. Here, each playable character represents a difficulty level, with the main protagonist being Easy and the main antagonist being Hard, and two minor characters in between for Medium and another Hard (on the “good guys” side).

Critics praised Crusaders for its unique gameplay and interesting story, and it earned very good scores, becoming a sleeper hit. Crusaders was followed up by a sequel called Kingdom Under Fire: Heroes, but it wasn’t rated quite as highly due to some bugs. The fourth entry in the series (I don’t know much about the first game that came before Crusaders), was called Kingdom Under Fire: Circle of Doom, for the 360. This is where things went downhill. If you’ve heard of KUF, it’s probably because of this game, unfortunately. It was terrible, and critics absolutely ripped it to pieces. The game changed completely from a unique hybrid of awesome game mechanics to a boring, hack-and-slash dungeon crawler RPG. And a horribly mediocre one at that. Fortunately, KUF II seeks to go back to the roots of the series.

KUF II has been in development hell for 5 years. Blueside and their co-developer, Phantagram (who was the sole developer of Crusaders), have delayed the game again and again. There have been numerous staff changes, technical problems, and above all – budget problems. As of right now, it is budget problems that are holding the developers back from even giving a solid release date. It’s strange they haven’t tried Kickstarter yet. I’m sure they would get all the funds they need and more within a few days. According to the Wikipedia page, they’re looing at a July 30 release, but I think that information may be old.

One glimmer of hope, however, and the reason I decided to write this article, is the fact that the developers have continued to release update videos up to a couple of months ago. Their YouTube channel has all KUF II trailers and feature videos. It was the one about how well KUF II will run on old, low-end computers, in particular, that I saw today and led me to check up on the progress of the game. This video alone shows the developers are still working hard to finish this game and get it out, no matter what.

Finally, here is the latest gameplay video, released in March, and it definitely looks like development is on track.

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~ by The Retro Gamer on May 7, 2013.

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