Action RPG, the Speedball of Gameplay
It’s a delicious cocktail of button-mashing coke and character-leveling smack, and that’s why I’m still playing Kingdom Under Fire: Circle of Doom, a game with so many flaws you fear it might shatter into a million pieces in your 360’s drive tray. But I’m not going the way of Belushi, Phoenix and Farley, I’m gonna kick this habit. Or at least find a dealer with a better supply.
You face wave after wave of submoronic AI, the quote-story-endquote is so incomprehensible the developers don’t even try to tell it – why am I selling swords to the Buddha? Fuck knows! – and if the repetitive level designs don’t get you, the shamelessly linear paths through them will. Hope you like invisible walls! Yet, it has the odd charm – monsters like the four-headed spinning top turtle boss and the ‘flesh spears’, aka Freud’s nightmare aka subterannean rape sticks, are pretty neat-o.
Some people love action games; I can take ‘em or leave ‘em. But throw in some RPG elements like leveling up, modifying weapons and unlocking spells and suddenly gameplay takes a giant leap from the 80s into – well, at least the mid-90s. This game has just enough different characters and nice weapons and spells to keep you hacking and slashing just a little more to see what new kind of ‘bommyknocker’ or ‘headbanger’ or ‘gunsword of piercing’ fat, slow Duane might rend from the bones of his vanquished foes’ magically vanishing corpses.
But I’m trying to quit. I could probably find a better action RPG on the DS, say, or just find a Mac port of Diablo and be done with it. Yet in the back of my mind there’s Duane, flailing the shit out of some poor mentally-challenged Lightning Knight. Damn!