King's Bounty: Crossworlds review
King’s Bounty: Crossworlds is an expansion for King’s Bounty: Armoured Princess, making it an expansion for an expandalone for the 2008 remake of the 1990 turnbased tactical RPG King’s Bounty. Much as in all of those, your job in Crossworlds is to heroically steer a horse around a medieval fantasy world, bump into evil generals, and fight their armies on a hex grid. Afterwards: XP and gold for all.
Unlike any of the previous games, Crossworlds comes with two discrete mini-campaigns to garnish the main expanded content. The first, Champion of the Arena, is about Arthur, a generic wanderer mercenary type who’s been drugged and taken to an underground city to complete a series of boss fights.
It’s easy. There are a bunch of race-themed guilds – Royal Academy of Shouty Men With Swords, Horrible Lizard Swamp, Dwarven Booze-O-Mine, etc. Fight various insta-battles for them and they’ll reward you with ludicrous amounts of cash to buy thousands of fairies with.
Look, I didn’t mean to start hanging out with fairies. I’ve got dryads and druids and shit like that, but it’s really just to boost the morale of my miniature murderous mistresses. Fairies are malice incarnate. Each turn, my dainty legions do horrible things to swarms of demons and undead. After each battle, I go up about five levels without breaking a sweat. It’s brief, silly fun, and I was done with it in about four hours.
If you prefer a challenge, there’s always the second mini-campaign. Defender of the Crown is set directly after the events of Princess. Princess Amelie has just defeated the Uberlord Demonpants guy, and returned as a battle hardened, triumphant... level one wimp? What? She’s also got to prove that she’s a bad enough dude to defend the crown, despite that whole freezing-time-and-voyaging-to-another-dimension thing she did.
Your resources are tight, the encounters so carefully built that you need to have a plan, and the rewards piled just high enough to make it seem worth it. It’s a frustrating gauntlet if you don’t know what you’re doing, but if you’re itching for a King’s Bounty style scrap that forces you to think, this is it.
The bulk of the expansion is less interesting. Orcs on the March is Armoured Princess again, but with some sloppy dialogue tree cock-ups, slightly more complicated Orc combat, and some more challenge-dungeons around the world. Loads of expensive magical items (which you can’t afford) lie around in shops from the off, and there’s a new Orc-centric quest chain, but it’s still the same old world from last time.
Although Crossworlds won’t rekindle your romance with the original Armoured Princess campaign, it offers enough content for veterans to justify the £15 purchase.
Worth it for the two vibrant mini-campaigns, but only if you’re dying for more KB. It doesn’t sex up the formula at all.