Preview

KnightShift Preview (PC)

Well, the dry dusty halls of the Strategyinformer were a little brighter this week. Dirty candles still sputter, spitting oily fat which we can only hope comes from honest sources. Shadows dance and the rats still prance but thanks to a up and coming German development company, Zuxxez (www.zuxxex.com) I can say that this poor acolyte had a chance to imagine the sun and fresh air while forgetting the chains which chafe his ankles, if just for a moment.

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I had the privilege to get my hands on an advance Beta preview copy of “Knightshift”. I have to be honest and say that at the start I was beginning to wonder if Magpie, in a Croatian silvo-induced haze, had linked me the wrong game. Knightshift at first glance appeared to be an RPG (it even has an RPG sub-game as an aside). But as I got further into it, it became clear that it has RTS at its roots as well.

First off, let me say that Knightshift is one gorgeous looking product. A whole lot of love and detail has gone into this product. The Beta ran flawlessly on my machine and the graphics are very easy on the eyes. The game comes with a very promising camera control scheme which allows for a lot of different angles and viewpoints without sacrificing on the overall visual richness. The effects of water and fire are simply breathtaking, particularly at sunset. The world in which Knightshift is set is alive with an amazing number of different types of flora and fauna, to be honest sometimes I just played with the camera to see the level of detail while my troops died in the background. The sound is perfect for a medieval fantasy RTS with a sound track that has haunting tunes to really help build the atmosphere.

The story is fairly standard with a valiant hero beaten by evil and coming back to regain the crown. But the voice acting and ambiance that Knightshift provides is very refreshing and interesting in what could have been a stale venture. Knightshift is clearly comfortable with the fact that it is a game and, with tongue firmly in cheek, it is out to have fun.

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The game interface itself is fairly standard point and click, which is nice and clean. The Beta preview had only one campaign of four missions but the full game is to ship with 3 Campaigns and 24 missions. The missions appear to be very imaginative, vice the “build a village and go kill another village” variant often seen in the genre. One mission may be to go find an object or a person while another will consist of defending a village against attack.

All of the expected RTS elements are present: purpose specific buildings, different character types and resource management. The resource side looks to have been leaned out though, using only milk via cows (of course) as the main currency. At first glance this may seem a bit lazy but it really does simplify the resource gathering aspect and allows the player to focus on the unit interaction and the story. Although the story and RPG element seem to be the focus, the RTS side seems very strong and should give the click-fest junkies out there something to sing about. A large array of characters with varying skills and abilities, combined with a character level system should provide a solid RTS experience.

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Knightshift comes with an RPG sub-game that allows you to develop a character through various quests. It has a Skirmish mode for quick playing and a multiplayer mode that will allow up to 8 players to spar over 16 different maps.

All of this, with what looks to be a humorous and engaging story, wrapped up in a high quality package has all the makings of a classic. With a combination of quick humor and artistic flair, the game promises to deliver a rich RPG/RTS hybrid to the consumer. Look for it Q2, 2003.


by Capt
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