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Author Topic: First CG PC Review! - Kohan II  (Read 3336 times)
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th'FOOL
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« on: October 13, 2004, 05:14:17 AM »

Kohan II: Kings of War

When Kohan: Immortal Sovereigns came out in 2001, it brought with it a breath of fresh air to a stagnant RTS genre.  With its emphasis on strategy over micromanagement, it pretty much spoiled all other RTS games for me. Now, the long awaited Kohan II: Kings of War is finally out and Khaldunites everywhere are wondering how it stacks up to the originals. Two generations of men have passed since Darius Javidan awoke and led his people in the fight against the Shadow, since the Dark Saadya Ahriman was defeated, and his Ceyah forces broken and scattered to the four corners of the world. Little do the inhabitants of Khaldun realize that a greater evil is stirring...


screenshot 1

Graphics - 88/100
At first K2’s graphics looked like a pretty good mix of Age of Mythology and Warcraft 3, but after a little gametime I realized that this assumption just didn’t do the graphics justice.  The environment in K2 is actually surprisingly immersive.  Little touches like the shadows of clouds floating overhead and a herd of native beasties cruising on the periphery of the fog of war really make the land of Khaldun a living world.  Unit models are much more distinct than in Immortal Sovereigns and the animations are very polished.  Spell effects are downright magnificent.  Kudos go out to Zach Forcher, Ricky Pina, Tom Woods, Phillip Morales, Jessie Rolan and the rest of the TimeGate art team for giving us plenty of reasons to not mind the necessary low poly count of the models.


Sound/Music - 80/100
While many of the sound effects are carry-overs from the last game (definitely lends some of the old-school Kohan flavor), an area of vast improvement over the original lies in the voice-acting and soundtrack.  Sure, a few of the actors ham it up a bit, but overall it’s pretty good quality.  The orchestral soundtrack provides a nice aural backdrop that nicely enhances the fantasy aspect of the game.



screenshot 2


Controls - 88/100
As a web designer and usability nut, I’m really pleased with the controls and interface of the game.  The UI is a little bit larger than I would like – covering roughly a third of the screen- however, it is very streamlined and intuitive, with multiple ways to accomplish the same tasks depending on your playing style.  I particularly like the way the Kohan and regiment interfaces are now perpetually on the screen in the top left corner.


Gameplay - 180/200
Can I just mention how nice it is to not have to worry about whether Johnny Peon is harvesting enough berries?  K2, like it’s predecessor, exchanges excessive micromanagement with –gasp!- strategy.  Economy is once again very hands-off, and cities have been expanded to include actual buildings within your city walls.  I was concerned about settlement spots being fixed in place rather than strategically placed by settler companies, but was delighted to find an autoplacement toggle in the map set-up screen. Kings of War uses the company system again, adding two flanking slots and a wider range of units.  I find that this system makes me value my units a bit more, and the company limit which is influenced by the amount and size of your cities requires you to choose your company structure wisely.
The 25 mission single player is moderately enjoyable.  The plot is definitely more compelling than K:IS was, switching perspectives among the 6 races and 5 factions every few missions, and focusing on the disenfranchised Ceyah and their transformation into the Fallen.  It serves as a nice primer to the various unit types and game elements.  For the most part, The missions weren’t too difficult, and I started to wonder where the famously difficult Kohan AI had gotten off to.  After roughly 2/3 into the campaign, I caught my first glimpse in the form of a Fallen Kohan who thought it was neat to teleport out of battle a mere sword stroke away from death. After two and a half hours of touch-and-go, it was very satisfying to finally hear the piercing shriek accompanied by his demise.
Even so, the campaign may as well be a long tutorial compared to the majesty of the multiplayer and vs. AI skirmish modes.  The several AIs to choose from are just plain nasty .  The only time I have been able to beat one so far was in an unfair 2 humans vs. AI  match the other night.  Multiplayer is just as fun and addictive as it was on the first Kohan games, and is sure to engage veterans of the previous games as well as first-time players.  If you find yourself online, keep your eyes peeled for members of the dev team, as they have been known in the past to get addicted to their own game!



screenshot 3


Value / Replay Value - 85/100
While I don’t see myself playing through the single player campaign again, I have no doubt that multiplayer and single player skirmish maps vs. the AI will ensure this game stays on my hard drive for quite some time.  Players can also make their own custom maps and AIs (in a rare move, the manual actually has detailed instructions on how to use these tools), and the ability to watch and save films of previous games can give the devoted player a way to study other’s weaknesses and observe how tactics play out without the fog of war present.  Kohan: Immortal Sovereigns had a fiercely addictive multiplayer, and Kings of War retains much of that same feel.


screenshot 4

Concluding Thoughts
This is a very fun game.  While it doesn’t have the hype and sex appeal of those other two RTS games that just came out, it more than makes up for it with a very solid gaming experience.  RTS fans beware though, once you get spoiled by the leisurely pace of the game, absence of micromanagement, and the emphasis on actual strategy, you may never want to go back!

FINAL SCORE
521 out of 600
 87%

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Mike Dunn
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th'FOOL
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« Reply #1 on: October 13, 2004, 05:22:32 AM »

This review was actually in the works before the forced migration.  I hope you all enjoy it, it's a sign of things to come!

There is one matter I would like to unburden myself of, and that is the fact that I actually used to work for TimeGate at the time the original Kohan came out.  At first I was uncertain that I should write the review, but in the end I felt that I could give it a fair shake.  I hope you agree.

I am still friends with the artists there (hence the shout out  unibrow ), and I'd pimp their individual websites if they all had one.  As it is, you can check out some more work of Tom Woods at Romus5.com.  It's good stuff!

edit: I almost forgot- thanks to everybody who submitted screenshots for me.  Feel free to post any additional screenshots or even links to game films here.

edit again:  Zach Forcher's site can be found here: [url]www.ryaken.com[/img]
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« Reply #2 on: October 13, 2004, 09:42:09 AM »

Great review, th'FOOL!  Just wanted to comment on a few points:

Graphics.  At first, I was a little unimpressed.  But after playing more and more of it, man, it's pretty damn beautiful.  Well, a better word would be charming.  Seeing the shadows of the clouds fly by really is breathtaking.  I've stared at it's beauty far too many times during my MP matches.

The soundtrack is FANTASTIC!  

The manual (shout out to Stratos Group) is great.  I actually USE the reference guide that came with the game and the manual itself is full of information.  Lots and lots of information biggrin

The only RTS games I've enjoyed have been the original C&C and War3 (and I've tried many).  When I first fired this up, I was a tad unimpressed.  Seemed so very normal to me.  I also missed the ability to control each individual unit like in War3.  

But man, the idea of companies is used so well in K2.  I wasn't initially sold by the idea of it (OR the way they use resources...which is actually really damn cool after playing with K2 for awhile), but it's great.  I'm really digging Kohan 2.

Great write-up, th'FOOL!  Kohan 2 is most definitely a gold nugget and I just wish people who perhaps overlooked it (because of Warhammer and other various bigger-name games that came out) give it a shot.  I think RTS fans will be pleasantly surprised by its charm.
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« Reply #3 on: October 13, 2004, 03:25:16 PM »

Nice review, very well written. I just have one suggestion really, make the screenshots bigger... they're tiny. (Ok, worst case, you make the thumbnails a bit bigger, and link to a 1024x768 or larger shot)
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« Reply #4 on: October 13, 2004, 08:56:56 PM »

Agreed on the screen shots.  I thought they were thumbnails.  At their current size, they really don't show much.

Edit:  Hmm.  I see now that you linked to the larger image below the thumbnails.  A strange way to do it (I was clicking the image itself as so many other sites have it set up that way), and didn't notice the link below the image was actually a link and not just text.

- Don
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th'FOOL
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« Reply #5 on: October 13, 2004, 09:01:21 PM »

Uh, we haven't figured out how to do that with this board yet smirk

By the time we do, chances are the PC reviews will be integrated into the rest of the site.
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Mike Dunn
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« Reply #6 on: October 13, 2004, 10:15:13 PM »

Quote from: "th'FOOL"
Uh, we haven't figured out how to do that with this board yet smirk

Here you go Mike...



Code:
[url=http://www.consolegold.com/reviews/kohan2/images/1.jpg][img]http://www.consolegold.com/reviews/kohan2/images/thumb_1.jpg[/img][/url]
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« Reply #7 on: October 13, 2004, 10:21:58 PM »

Thank you for your review!  I have been wanting more impressions on this game.  I'm trying to decide between it and Warhammer 40k: Dawn of War.  That is after I buy Rome: TW, that one is a definite buy for me.

And Simon, nice to see you!   biggrin
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« Reply #8 on: October 13, 2004, 11:08:15 PM »

I expecially like screenshot #2  :wink:
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« Reply #9 on: October 14, 2004, 04:37:25 AM »

Too much interface (especially the lower part of the screen) and not enough map.  Had a similar complaint about Starcraft.  I noticed the gametab review site has an average of 80.
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« Reply #10 on: October 15, 2004, 09:15:23 PM »

I'm not an RTS player. Don't like them in the slightest. I always feel rushed and lose track of what stuff is doing. It's frustrating to realize you've got your guys sitting there doing nothing and you don't know it.

But I bought K:IS in a bargain bin because I had heard such god things about it (I like to buy great games, even in genres I don't care for) and I actually had some fun with it. I played through a number of the single-player missions and it was by far as close as I've come to realy enjoying a game of this type. I'll probably look to pick up the sequel eventually.

My 8 yo son likes to fire up the original from time to time and wander the map looking for beastied to kill (I set it up with no enemies, just some hives for him to find).

The graphics in those screens look like a major upgrade over the original (not that the original was bad).
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« Reply #11 on: October 21, 2004, 07:48:13 PM »

You forgot to mention Andy's favorite feature: a random map generator.

Sorry, that was kind of a running joke at GG:

Someone: Cool new strat game out, check it out...

Andy: Does it have a random map generator, if so that an instant buy for me.

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« Reply #12 on: October 25, 2004, 10:36:22 PM »

Is there going to be more PC content in the future on the main page?
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th'FOOL
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« Reply #13 on: October 25, 2004, 10:43:03 PM »

Yes, and very soon.  We have a few surprises for you guys in the works!
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« Reply #14 on: November 05, 2004, 01:48:44 AM »

Quote
Too much interface (especially the lower part of the screen) and not enough map.


We agree.  We'll be working to streamline and minimize the interface in future games.  smile
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« Reply #15 on: November 05, 2004, 01:50:56 AM »

The best way to achieve such a goal is to provide long time reviewers and editors with copies of all your games for constant input.
 :twisted:
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« Reply #16 on: November 05, 2004, 05:25:35 AM »

Heh, hmmm...

  :o
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« Reply #17 on: November 05, 2004, 05:39:20 AM »

Is it just me or does anyone else feel it would be more fun or more immersive if they just named the races dwarves and elves and such and did'nt use the wierd names to try and set themselves apart?
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« Reply #18 on: November 05, 2004, 05:45:26 AM »

its just you.
why would anyone want them to try to conform to the absolute most cliched, tired, overused, overdone, and overwrought standards of traditional fantasy?
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« Reply #19 on: November 05, 2004, 07:17:40 AM »

Actually, most of the Kohan mythology is inspired by Persian and Zoroastrian mythology.  The names, characters, etc often have some sort of connection to that base or come from Farsi.

Ahriman = Angra Manyu (or the first monotheistic religion's own version of Satan)

Ormazd = Ahura Mazdah (or the original one true god)

Kohan = Immortal

Ceyah = The Dark, the black
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« Reply #20 on: November 05, 2004, 07:19:25 AM »

I knew that Aephir.

History degree is WINNNAR!!!111one.

I have no clue why I am talking like this tonight.
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« Reply #21 on: November 07, 2004, 07:42:21 PM »

I love this game! Just got to mission 11.

And it's not just you, Daehawk. I like the units and graphics and art and I appreciate the fact that they tried something different with the Kohan games but the race names do nothing for me. Ceyah, Drauga, blech. I just don't like the sound of the language when the cutscenes are playing. That doesn't mean we need Dwarves and Elves and Trolls again, but there could be something in between.
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