Angry Robot

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!

3 comments on "Action RPG, the Speedball of Gameplay"

  1. Nadine says:

    I know, man! I know.

    I’ve only played the preview of this and I thought “Okay so it’s just throwing me in with little to no story exposition but I’m sure that’s just because it’s a preview…” and then BAMS seemingly sucky game becomes crazy button mashing crack addiction. At first I was only playing so much to get game vis for a story I was working on but then…I wasn’t blinking…I was just slashing and shooting and being lulled by this weird music that motivated and entranced me. I was hooked on something I didn’t understand! I didn’t care that logic was completely absent! The story? What the hell! Bits and pieces of the previous games…games that from my understanding had sucked and were bawls ass RTSs (my nemesis). And yet…this game…with randomly generated “this is the same area just in a different colour” maps…so many items…so many spells to learn just by killing a certain amount of baddies, potions abounding, sincerely messed character design…Such horrors…And I was killing them all…

    It’s like a really whacked out dream that is in every way a nightmare. Yet you think about it all day…and wish to return when you sleep…

    Funny…You do sleep in the game…Weird, messed up weird…

    Kingdom Under Fire: Circle of Doom is like a poorly communicated dream. I don’t understand it and yet played it for far too long to say I didn’t like it.

  2. D says:

    Yeah, you’re totally right. I didn’t even get to the dream parts. What a strange trip..

    You know what? If this game was a little more generous with its achievement points that would be all the excuse I’d need to totally play all the way to the end.

  3. Nadine says:

    Oh I want to play it again after you….that music…those black blood spurts….They call to me.

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