|"King Arthur's Knights - Origins of
Excalibur" is already the third game of the Cryo-Legend series, so on one hand I was
anxious, if Cryo has learned from the mistakes of the predecessors "Timemachine"
and "Odyssee", on the other hand I was sceptical considering the fact, that a
second part of the game has been announced for the middle of next year.
Britain in the Middle Ages after the decay of the Roman rule
is in a desolate state between the ancient celtic customs and the growing christian
belief. King Arthur and his knights are trying to reunite the devided kingdoms and at the
same time ward off the barbaric attacks of the Saxons.
Bradwen - illegitimate son of a british king - wants to
defend his family's destiny against his mean half-brother and successor to the throne and
his allies, take up his place at the Round Table and through this obtain honour and
Therefore he has to master five tasks, each task again
devided into five to six chapters (ten in the end). Each task takes place at a main
location with several sub-scenes: in the snowy winter landscape of the Atrebatian kingdom,
the magic world of Avalon with fairies and gods, the mystic forest of the sorcerer of
Arden, in the martial ruins and tombs of the dilapidated roman town Magovenium, at
Tintagel fortress on the old roman road and in the camps of the intriguing kings and war
leaders of Camelot.
Besides this there are some more locations and Bradwen has to
wander around them. On his quest he has to deal with gods, fairies and sorcerers and also
with the devil, black knights and bestial monsters.
Almost without exception you control the game by keyboard.
Despite an extensive option menu you can't switch off sub-titles. With new game
software developers should, in my opinion, assume that 99% of adventure gamers own a
mouse as well as speakers.
With the inventory design the developers took something new
into their heads. It consists of three parts - objects, subjects and destinations -
controlled by mouse, which is a bit complicated to handle. The programmers seem to have
had their problems with it too. Some more innovations should have been made at other parts
of the game.
Bradwen is always moving within a 3rd-person-perspective. The
3D-graphics uncontrollably whirl around him and couldn't be controlled actively as
for example with Omni3D in "Atlantis" or "Faust". They are following
the same algorithm known from "Timemachine" or "Odyssee", but
On the other hand movement-design is very imaginative indeed:
you can use two different speed-levels when leaving one sequence to reach another (with
Shift-key). Both, changing Bradwen's walking to running, and alternate from trot to gallop
and back when horseriding, were not only technically transposed unobjectionable but also
realized extremely imaginative and with great expense.
Sound and graphics
Renouncing almost any musical accompaniment, enormous efforts
were set into creating sounds and noises, which contribute so deeply to the outstanding
atmosphere and mood of the game. The howling wolves, buzzing butterflies, hammering
wrought iron, grunting monsters, jumping fishes or swinging fairies - all contribute to
this most capital ambiente.
The graphics again are pure eye-candy and don't have to hide
behind the great graphic art formerly designed by Arxel Tribe. Nevertheless the graphics
appear coarse grained and pixeled when looking close due to the used software. So they
could hardly stand a comparison with other new releases such as "Louvre - The Final
Curse" or "Egypt II".
In any case I have to mention the positive fact, that most of
the predecessors' failures have been extinguished with "King Arthur's Knights",
like people hovering over the ground, characters that could be seen through walls or
suddenly dissolving to nothingness.
One of the really outstanding features of the game are
without doubt the many detailed figured and moving animals which populate the scenes
(harts, bears, wolves, cows, squirrels, rats, birds, butterflies, etc.) without any
influence on the story but with great influence on the outstanding atmosphere of the game.
It's for sure difficult to fit the taste of the classical
adventure game fan. One gamer might set high value on many puzzles, either logical and as
difficult as possible, or as easy as possible but numerous, another rather prefers nice
graphics with an appealing atmosphere and good sound or a gripping, most detailed story.
You don't have to solve difficult puzzles in "King
Arthur's Knights", but you have to talk often with a great number of characters, find
objects, collect clues and search paths. Those of you who prefer very tricky puzzles
should pick up other games, likewise fans of classic Lucas-Arts-adventures or of
action-elements will not feel enthusiastic about it.
A most capital feature of the game is that you can play
alternating as two different characters. The Christian Bradwen goes through a totally
different story than the Celt Bradwen. Persons he meets, solution path and happenings are
totally different though the locations stay the same most of the time.
I had a lot of fun changing from Bradwen the Christ to
Bradwen the Celt, just when I stick fast, but on the other Hand you can easily loose
orientation when often jumping from one to the other side of Bradwen. You can find
your way back into the story by reading the diary.
Most annoying unfortunately are the many faults, negligences
and failures. I must admit that most of the aggravating bugs that ocurred in
"Timemachine" and "Odyssee" have been extinguished, nevertheless there
are some new bugs in "Kings Arthur's Knights", which could have been avoided
through careful programming and appropriate testing.
Already when trying to adjust the options you are mislead by
confusing headings and "rewarded" with a black screen for the wrong selection of
3D-software. After that you have to get accustomed to the use of spacebar, return-,
escape-, arrow-keys and mouse functions.
But more serious are the true bugs, which appear all the more
the longer the game lasts - obviously bungling work increases to the end of the game: the
french texts and important leads are often translated poorly or wrong and I unfortunately
had to face some system crashes.
Most annoying - espacially after a crash - is the fact that
you have to insert always CD 1 (of three) to restart the game and that you could only save
ten savegames. Besides you have to be very accurate when you want to loosen a certain
action, even if you only want to open a door.
Sometimes it even happens that you are walking on unassigned
paths by accident, on the one hand causing quite funny - but senseless -
phenomenons, on the other hand troublesome crashes.
Even a company like Cryo, that did
a long time of work in this genre, has its problems to please all adventure fans, just
after such successes as "Atlantis 1+2", "Ring", "Faust" or
"Egypt 1+2". With the Legend series Cryo hasn't done a favour neither to itself
nor to the fans.
Many adventure fans, who trusted in approved quality, are
disappointed by this series - obviously developed under pressure of time and money - ,
"Odyssee", "Timemachine" and now "King Arthur's Knights".
"King Arthur's Knights" will be followed by a
sequel called "The Hidden King". But you couldn't make the reproach, that the
game has been automatically shortened (by same price) because there will be a second part.
Nevertheless I will rather wait for "Atlantis 3",
"Exile" or "Schizm" hoping for more quality and fun, than dealing with
slightly defective rushed Cryo-Legend versions developed within a few months for
In total I rate this game with 65%, (restricted
recommendable), mainly for technical reasons.
Adventure-Archiv rating system:
- 80% - 100% excellent game, very recommendable
- 70% - 79% good game, recommandable
- 60% - 69% satisfactory, restricted
- 50% - 59% sufficient (not very
- 40% - 49% rather deficient (not to be
recommended - for Hardcore-Adventure-Freaks and collectors only)
- 0% - 39% worst (don't put your
fingers on it)