Wot I Think: Majesty 2

By Alec Meer on September 23rd, 2009 at 5:00 pm.

The sequel to Microprose/Cyberlore’s 2000 RTS/RPG/management game has just hit, this time handled by one of Russian omni-developer/publisher 1C’s many studios. I confess I’ve never played the first game, but I was intrigued enough by this decade-on sequel to take a nose…

There’s something rather scathing about Majesty 2. It tears away the pretend philanthropy and nobility of fantasy heroes, leaving the terrible truth of what we really play most RPGs and MMOs for. We want gold, and we want to watch a bunch of numbers increase – because we are greedy and self-obssessed. And Majesty 2′s AI-controlled, massively selfish heroes turn the mirror on us.

You don’t directly control anyone in this sorta-RTS. Instead, you incentivise. Heroes attack, explore or defend because you’ve set a reward for them to do so. You don’t select them and manually send them there – you just drop a flag, suggesting somewhere they could go or something they could fight to if they can be arsed. You make them more arsed by adding more cash, until finally someone shrugs and trudges over there.

You’re the invisible quest-setter of any and every RPG/MMO, providing cash prizes for noble deeds. And that cash is all the heroes really want – they have no interest in protecting the weak or defending the land. Sure, they’ll fight monsters if one walks right in front of them, but they won’t go even slightly out of their way unless they known their palms will be crossed with gold afterwards. Heroes? Not so much. Like selfish videogame players? Oh yes.

Majesty’s hook is that, as well as setting these quests, you also have to deal with the financial fallout. Those 500 gold coins have to come from somewhere, after all. This is the central struggle at Majesty 2’s heart – whether to spend your earnings on new heroes and upgrades, or as a bribe to make your existing lazy buggers do something for you.

Example: there’s an Ogre attacking your city. You know the sort: face like a dog’s bumhole, bald head, dirty loincloth, truck-sized club. He can knock down a peasant bungalow in seconds, knock down a peasant in microseconds, and make short work of guard towers, guilds, markets and, well, whatever he run into. You have 1000 gold in the bank, which you’ve been saving to research new Leather armour – a major defensive boon to your archers and rogues. It’s a long-term benefit, but you’re facing a short-term problem.

So do you a) set that 1000g as a bounty on the ogre’s gigantic, bald head and (hopefully) have him sent to ogre-hell ASAP without first decimating all your lightly-clad rogues and archers b) buy the armour and hope your turrets and any conveniently nearby heroes sort him out before he does too much damage or c) use your own very limited selection of spells, your only direct interaction with anyone in this world, to zap him a couple of times with a lightning bolt?

Generally you go for option a, squeeze in b when you get some breathing space, and go for c when things get super-nasty and your heroes are flat-out refusing to pitch in. The great irony/joy of option a is that the only things heroes have to spend their money on is stuff you’ve got up for sale. Build a marketplace to flog potions, a blacksmith to sell armour and weapon upgrades and an inn to booze the night away in. Dimwits – all that gold they’ve earned, given straight back to its source. So, you eventually get a decent portion of your spending back…

…To then in turn spend on new heroes, buildings and upgrades. Nobody gets rich here – the money just cycles around and around. I’ll guess this tongue-in-cheek futility is deliberate, though the overplayed, sometimes irritating Sean Connery-spoofing narrator means I don’t quite trust the game’s grasp of humour.

So, it’s a wonderful idea (obviously introduced in the first Majesty) – an RTS/RPG in which you do not, cannot control anyone. It reminds me of my beloved Dungeon Keeper in that respect – your role is to alternately build and try and herd an uninterested army towards the most dangerous threats. That it’s outdoor rather than undeground makes it much trickier, as heroes will rarely naturally wander to new or monster-laden areas.

Unlike Dungeon Keeper though, the building here is almost completely unsatisifying. It’s hugely and unnecessarily finickity about where you can place structures, and there’s no rotation of buildings allowed, so you end up with an aimless hodge-podge rather than a neatly-ordered city. There’s no strategic requirement dictating this – just pointless restrictions, and an apparent decision that the building need only be functional rather than visually satisfying.

The characterlessness and messiness of the resulting cities is a real let-down, given this is billed as The Fantasy Kingdom Simulator. I want to look at my Kingdom and feel proud, not messily drop in a bunch of buildings all over the shop, purely so I can generate and buff heroes.

Which possibly hints at Majesty 2’s greatest problem – repetition and lack of variety. It’s a sad surprise, given how hard it tries to stand out from the RTS crowd. Pretty much every one of its 16 levels play the same way. Fend off attackers whilst slowly accruing enough cash to build and research everything, then go fight a boss monster. The end. It really is vastly entertaining for the first few levels, as you decipher this leftfield way of interacting with an army and harbour quiet excitement about new units and upgrades. Then it gets a little annoying, as every new level takes you right back to the start, repeating the same process.

Worse, some things seem there purely to extend the experience, to mask how light it really is. Take the Inn, whose ultimate purpose is to group heroes into parties of four rather than have them vulnerably wander around on their own. To do this, you have to build the Inn – 250 gold. Then you have to upgrade your palace to level 2 – 2000 gold. Then you can upgrade the inn to level 2 – 1000 gold. Then you must research parties – 300g. Then, and only then, is it conceivable that four guys could sit around a pub table and decide to partner up. Which costs you another 500 gold. Gah.

That’s over 4000 gold all told – plus a long wait to earn it and sit through construction times – just to make four blokes walk around together. It’s absurd, it’s illogical, it’s grindy, and it’s only about keeping a useful buff at arm’s length until the late game. It’s not simulating a fantasy kingdom, it’s just artificially trying to put more meat onto the game’s skinny bones.

So you build and build, again and again, and as Majesty 2 wears on it seems to realise this might be getting tedious. So, almost as if it’s trying to discract you from this, it drops ridiculous difficulty spikes on to you – infinite waves of dragons or ogres teleporting in from the off map, a roaming boss who can randomly stumble across your city in the early hours of a level, at which point he’s essentially invincible. (I gave up when the Skeleton king did this to me on one of the last levels. 20 minutes in, and he wanders over and insta-demolishes my entire city). In some cases, learning the game better (largely through trial and error) will get you through; in others, it’s purely random punishment that can only be defeated by reloading a savegame.

There’s bound to be a patch or two here – while it’s generally well-presented, there is AI flakiness, and a strange but oddly useful bug that allows you to build beyond the nominal maximum of a guild hall’s heroes if you’ve got guys in the graveyard, waiting to be respawned. It feels rushed, in other words – variety and balance seem to have been tragic sacrifices in the name of realising the offbeat concept and controls.

Yet I’ve played it till 3 am for two consecutive nights., and loaded it up again immediately when I arose on the following mornings. There’s something incredibly pleasing about slowly constructing and researching everything, ending up with a city that’s continually under siege from zombies, dragons, ogres, bears and werewolves but has become self-sufficient enough to keep them at bay. Beneath the cyclic grind and wildly spasming difficulty, there is a massively charming management game trying, often in vain, to make itself heard.

I almost dread to say it, but if it had taken a few more steps towards Theme Park and a few away from Warcraft, C&C et al I’d be proclaiming it this year’s King’s Bounty. For the first few levels I though it might be, but then it put its feet up on my table, cracked open a beer and summarily ceased to make much effort.

I adore the concept and the essential control system, and enough to fairly cofidently recommend it to anyone looking for something a little different, a little more PC during the three months of big-budget man-shooters that currently await us, but I’m not quite as keen on the game that’s been built around it. I shall keep a greedy eye on it though – a meaty expansion pack or mod could well make it as majestic as it deserves to be.

Art thou still curious? There’s a demo here, and the trailer will be along any moment now.

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73 Comments »

  1. Mike says:

    I was listening to Tom Francis’ experiences with this on the PCG Podcast, and it sounds pretty funny. I like the completeness of the cycle, how gold is replenished by selling stuff back to heroes, and how perfectly that inverts the usual role of the player, as you pointed out.

    Doesn’t sound a hell of a lot of fun, mind you, but it’s a great concept.

  2. Ian says:

    *ahem*

    I think you’ll find, Alec, it’s spelled “Wot”.

  3. SmartChimp says:

    I finished the game in about a week. I found it rather easy and enjoyable but also lacking. My main problem with the game was the AI, level 1 heroes deciding to take on level 30s but too afraid of level 10s. It just seemed very inconsistent. Also you could go past the # of people in a guild by resurrecting them, but then your lowest level would get the broken home symbol and should have left town after 10 turns. I think the game is perfectly functional but needed to be polished a lot more than it was.

  4. Mungrul says:

    I played the original demo ages ago and somewhat enjoyed it, and I recently picked up the gold edition in the bargain bin at Game. I’ve just never gotten around to playing it.
    Spose I should really.

  5. Hi!! says:

    I loved it, though I gave up on the skeleton king mission as well. After a couple of tries.

    With a patch to fix the difficulty spikes, it could be truly golden.

  6. Earl_of_Josh says:

    I absolutely loved the first Majesty, and I’m sure I’ll pick this up eventually, but man. Between Blood Bowl and all the $5 games on D2D I have my playing cut out for me already :-P

  7. MrBejeebus says:

    I like the sound of it, but I don’t think I’d spend £30 on it.

  8. Ginger Yellow says:

    I really enjoyed the demo, but I’m not going to pay full price given that everyone who’s played it makes the same comments about repetitiveness, and there’s no map editor (or mod support?).

  9. Legionary says:

    Alec’s more or less right, albeit in a fairly persnickety way. Majesty 2 is fun until, about four levels in, you realise that you’re trapped in a timewarp, doomed to repeat the same phase of the game again and again until the end of the level. It’s also true that sometimes the pathfinding on the Big Bads sometimes makes them wander into your base shortly after the game’s start and that when it happens it’s game over.

    However, where I think he’s overly picky is that detailed layout of towns etc aren’t what Majesty does as a series. To criticise it for not being Theme Park seems odd and rather a strange comment to make: games have their own area of focus and Majesty’s has always been on looking down on and giving incentives to your heroes like a generous deity.

    • Alec Meer says:

      It’s still a game that’s 70% about building stuff, thus it’s incredibly strange that it doesn’t let you have any meaningful control over placement.

      With respect, the huge gap between games and the change in developer means there isn’t really a ‘Majesty series’ yet, and certainly no Great Law saying that because Majesty 1 didn’t allow building rotation a sequel can’t do it either. It’s a pointless oversight that could have made the game a lot more pleasing.

      (It also needs to be a lot clearer about which areas can’t be built on or why – the building silhoutte flashes red and makes an uh-uh noise in most places for no discernable reason).

    • Rai says:

      I’d argue that it gives you all of the meaningful control over placement and none of the meaningless control. I’d also reckon that the large collision area on buildings is to provide plenty of room for heroes/monsters to walk between them and keep them from overlapping too much with the buildings behind it considering your camera is usually at a 3/4 angle. It would be nice to have rotation but “it could have made the game a lot more pleasing.” Really? Maybe for the meticulous aesthete. A fairly small demographic

      Several of your nitpicks seem peripheral or even extraneous to the core of the game. My complaints would be more along the lines of streamlining the hero interface and providing some more specific situations that would require certain heroes or party-makeups synergize in a certain direction to solve a threat. As it is, there’s basically one synergy option, taunt + healing + stuns.

      The addition of significant group buffs, debuffs, and enemies that gather into swarms numerous enough that they require area attacks to efficiently kill would have been a big step in the right direction. Standing bounty quests that offer gold equal to X * monster level or even a separate menu with an exhaustive list of all of the monster types and the ability to set bounties for each one.

      Regardless, I can’t help but agree with your overall assessment of the game. Interesting concept, not enough variety. And yes the party system is poorly implemented to the extreme, especially waiting for heroes to get to the inn, then paying 500g to finalize each party. Improvements to that system are obvious to anyone.

    • luminosity says:

      I understand exactly what Alec means. I’d have times in game where I’d drop a building somewhere, it would slightly deform the terrain when I did. Later a monster would destroy it, and then I couldn’t build on the same damn spot. Very annoying. There’s also been a few levels where certain spots around your base you don’t seem to be able to build anything on, which is really annoying.

      Also, peasants put their houses in stupid spots. Like the middle of a road, or next to a graveyard that spawns enemies…

  10. Garg says:

    Have to agree more of less with this. I do enjoy the game, but I can’t help but think it would be so much better if it had a nice complicated and deep city management game in it as well. As it is it does feel a little too simple.

  11. Archonsod says:

    It’s pretty much the original Majesty done up in fancy graphics. The comparison to Dungeon Keeper is pretty apt, since IIRC that’s what pretty much buried the original and for the same reasons; while DK switched up enough to keep you playing Majesty runs out of steam after ten or so levels and the repetitive nature of the gameplay turns it to a grind. It’s a shame because it is a great concept, but it seems nobody has managed to find a way to spin it out for the length of a full game.

  12. Karry says:

    “So, it’s a wonderful idea (obviously introduced in the first Majesty) – an RTS/RPG in which you do not, cannot control anyone.”

    Obviously ? Obviously, the first Majesty just rehashed the aeons-old Stronghold. The one built on D&D license. Know your history, gaming blog writers.

    • Alec Meer says:

      Aiiee! I haven’t played every game ever! I have disgraced myself!

      More importantly, I meant the first Majesty did the same thing, rather than that it birthed the concept of indirect control. I’m not that stupid.

  13. Troy says:

    I adored the original Majesty games, and enjoyed the demo. While I think I’ll eventually purchase the game, I think I might let the price drop a bit before investing. It’s too similar in some respects (using the same sound effects for example) and too limiting in others (some of the “It’s Majesty… in 3D!!!” decisions). For example:

    Was anyone out there bothered by the extremely-close zoom of the game? Perhaps my memories of the original are affected by nostalgia, but I seem to remember having a larger, more ‘strategic’ view of the game, zoomed out. When I played the demo, I really felt like I was zipping from place to place with no real tactical approach to what was going on. I really, *really* wanted to pull the camera out, get an idea of what was happening in various areas of the map at once.

  14. Wassup says:

    Well written, I agree with everything that Alec said. Well, almost anyway. Strategic placement of the buildings, I found anyway, was key. Because of how each instance of a tower is significantly more expensive that the one before it, you really have to think about where to place these guys (especially early/mid game where you’re not rich / have a billion-zillion heroes running around aimlessly). Also, placing higher hit point buildings closer to danger zones (hall of lords) and buildings where heroes congregate so they can get out and kill something (i.e. marketplace) was crucial, I found, to winning the game.

    Sadly … just like you said, at the end of the day, the game play is repetitive and the buildings themselves are lacklustre.

  15. McCrank says:

    Being a huge fan of the first one, I absolutely love this game. After playing the original Majesty, it was just painful to go back to typical style RTS’s. Not sure why everyone is complaining about repetition, each map is different, and puts you up against a different challenge, it’s no more repetitive then every other RTS out there..

    -Chris

  16. Flint says:

    I find Majesty 2 brilliant. Tremendous fun and with some fantastic improvements over the original. And unlike in the first one, I’m actually tremendously enjoying going through the campaign in this one whereas the first one’s freeplay option swooped me away whenever missions got a bit too difficult and eventually the freeplay became the one thing I constantly started the game for, tweaking options and strategies. Of course, the fact that the freeplay option is completely absent from the second one kinda helps…

    But yeah. Gameplay-wise I’m in complete heaven with this. Love it to bits. It’s just a joy to manage your kingdom, decide upon which things to upgrade and which guilds to start up first, playing out waiting games to get the gold for the most expensive things while at the same time trying to get heroes to defend the kingdom with skill, and so forth. Strategy games aren’t really my thing and I’ve never been a person who greatly enjoys challenge, but with Majesty 2 hours just sweep away as I balance between all the issues my beautiful kingdom is occupied with.

    What I don’t love is that I can’t continue on the campaign because the lich king mission tends to crash my game (complete with a rather bizarre “kingom not found” [sic] error message) at random places. It could be a minute after the mission’s start, it could be ten minutes. You never know. The one thing I do agree with Alec is that at parts the game seems a bit rushed and unfinished, and such a fatal error (which is happening to several people and not just me) is easily the most annoying example of it.

    And seriously, lack of freeplay mode? What the hell?

  17. Lucas says:

    I read the reviews and one said the 16 mission campaign was finished in 6 hours, so I gave it a pass and got Majesty Gold for $5 on Amazon instead. Maybe I’ll come around for this one if it gets some updates or more content or a price drop.

    • Subject 706 says:

      6 hours??? That’s simply insane, unless he was playing on some sort of super easy mode, even then I find it highly unlikely.

    • Flint says:

      Six hours sounds daft, it’s taken me over an hour to do some of the missions on the first half of the campaign.

    • Wounder says:

      It was likely someone playing at 5x speed. It’s actually almost worse that you could do that, but I assure you, six hours is not going to be the experience of 99.99% of the folks who play it.

  18. mootpoint says:

    Actually Ian, it's spelled Wått, but as you islanders don't have enough characters on your keyboards for such fancyness I'll let you off the hook just this once.

  19. Subject 706 says:

    What you said. The game could certainly be better and less repetitive, but that can be said about most releases. Definitely above average in my book.

  20. Javier-de-Ass says:

    Yeah, this text is fair. The game is really great for the first few levels, but then the sameness kind of sets in. Luckily it does introduce more and more monsters and buildings for a while. But the levels are definitely too.. exactly the same.

    And too small! Levels are way too small. I definitely wish there was more going on with the levels, maybe in-fighting between monsters and different factions of whatever, maybe different kingdoms trying to make the territory their own with their own heroes or something. Hm, what else. The fear flag is somewhat pointless.

    But I still love it. Very relaxing and nice game. Hopefully they’ll do an expansion pack and add in some more variety and way bigger maps. It seems they’re definitely going to patch and update the game quite a bit aswell from community feedback (that’s the impression I got from the paradox forum anyway).

  21. Spoon says:

    I love me some 1c. They seem to enjoy buying old PC IP’s and making true-to-original sequels. That said, I probably won’t pick this up until its on sale.

  22. goodgimp says:

    Overall, I think the game is great. I don’t regret my purchase, but there are a few glaring faults:

    1 – Lack of random map generator (coupled with very limited maps at release). Ouch.

    2 – No skirmish / sandbox / freeplay mode. You can play the campaign or a small handful of preset missions with certain objectives. Seriously, what were they thinking?

    3 – No coop play. You can’t add computer AI players in a multiplayer game. This coupled with a lack of freeform sandbox style maps just kills any kind of replayability.

  23. Sagan says:

    To get rid of the feeling of repetition I played the later levels almost exclusively at double or 5x normal speed.
    My main problem with the game were the bad AI and the lack of balance. Especially when combined. Like when a freshly purchased Wizard walks out of his guild, turns the corner, and is promptly killed by two rats. 500 gold gone for nothing.

    But still I somehow played it for 18 hours last weekend. Then I had done everything there is to do in the game. Except for the multiplayer, which was either extremely laggy or buggy. Couldn’t get a game going.

  24. Man Raised By Puffins says:

    Unless team RPS get handed a first person electrical-engineer-’em-up, in which case “Watt” is also appropriate.

    Developers, make it happen.

  25. Tei says:

    So is a game that is anoying just now, but It will be extremly good wen suficient patched and modded?

    Sounds like most reviewers agree :-/

  26. theleif says:

    I have to agree as well on almost every point. Except for the fact that you can build new heroes of the same type as in the graveyard is a feature, not a bug. As pointed out, if you don’t build another building of the same type, the heroes will become homeless and leave you after 10 days.
    This game could really have benefited from some Perimeter-like puzzle structure for the levels. Also, yes, you can transfer heroes from one level to another but the good ones are prohibitively expensive. My level 21 Swordmaster cost over 10000 to hire. Yeah right.
    Another problem as have been pointed out is tied to the bounty system. I’d like to have the possibility to tag flags for single or party adventurers. As it is now, put a bounty on something hard to take down, like a minotaur pyramid, and rest assured that you will have to sacrifice all your newly hired level 1 elves before a party decides its worth to attack it.
    Ah and it would be nice to be able to form a group in the tavern from all your heroes not in a party and not only from the heroes in the tavern. It could be like this: You get a screen with all solo heroes, select the ones you want to group, these heroes goes to the pub and form a party. Party time! Sometimes you have to wait around for minutes at the tavern before that last crucial hero shows up. The elves seems especially reluctant to go to the pub. On the other hand, my rangers, who i usually want to run around alone and explore, are probably all alcoholics, as they always hang around in there.

    • Alex says:

      YES the single worst part of this game is the prohibitive cost to hire Lords. It’s tough to get attached when you really don’t get to use your guys much.

  27. Gutter says:

    You sell items to heroes?

    I’m buying that game right now!

    I want games like that… Hell, an MMO like that. A MMO without NPCs, where everything is made by players and bought by players. Where resources are rare and exorbitant to prevent people from stacking finished products… A MMO with an economic model like Second Life, but with a game structure, like quests and levels, but quests from real players (to gather resources that are needed, instead of resources that some NPC ask everyone for).

    A game where faction PvP mean a war with REAL supply lines, not just a game of Quake with Swords, of an half assed attempt at an RTS.

    Current MMOs proves it : There are people willing to create weapons and armors, people willing to farm for gold and whatsnot if there is a candy at the end. Developers need to exploit that. There should be as much challenge in gathering the coolest armor on your server as being the one that makes it.

    So a game like Majesty 2 that offer a new model to make money? Count me in!

  28. Hoernchen says:

    It is a frustrating RTS because there is no S in it – spend some money, and it might work, or it doesn’t. Feels more like a screensaver.

  29. Tom says:

    This is excellent. I’ve been fooling around with Tilted Mill’s Hinterland and King’s Bounty recently, and this sounds like more of what I need. It does sound pretty finicky though… Is there a big modding community around from the first game to help put this one back together?

  30. overlordubiquitous says:

    Just a quick note – it’s only 300g to upgrade the Inn to Level 2. The rest of the numbers for the ludicrously expensive path to be able to form parties are correct.

    I don’t understand why being able to form your adventurers into parties is so expensive either. It’s really handy, and quite pivotal to your heroes’ survival, mostly in that it will actually make the Clerics heal people. Of course, this means that they’ll only heal people. Even though they’re quoted as powerful against undead creatures (of which there are a lot on certain maps), they’ll happily not raise a finger against them with their special anti-undead skills, because they’re busy healing.

    I guess their AI party-members must complain like the blazes if they don’t.

    I’m enjoying the game greatly for the most part – only got a handful of missions left. Yes, it feels quite a bit “same-y”, but the formula is fun enough to keep me playing.

    What puzzles me most however, is that I’ll usually have to play each map twice. The first time I’ll just build in a fairly standard pattern that I have going, and see what crops up. The first 10-20 minutes of each map will be the most important, as it’s the time when you’re just trying to survive, and scrape together enough gold to keep advancing, as well as keep your heroes rocking face. It’s a tough balance, and, for the most part, one that works. What bugs me though is how specific each map will be, in terms of there being an ‘optimal’ way to build, and places to explore/destroy on the map.
    For instance, the “collect a lot of gold before the time runs out” mission, which is a type that I loathe, I failed to complete the first time through. I was almost there, but the time-limit was a little tight. Second time through, however, I applied what I’d learned from that first play-through, to build only Rangers, explore only the bits I need (avoiding the uber-powerful monsters who will crush your piddly heroes in a matter of seconds), and destroy all the things on the map which acted as money-pinatas.

    In essence, what I’m saying is that it’s too ‘trial-and-error’.

    Also, I don’t quite understand the use of Lords. By the time they get to levels worthy of bringing them in, their prices are tremendously high. As in, “your heroes that you’ve leveled up during the map will be just as good by the time you have enough gold to hire a single Lord”-high.
    And you can only hire three of them, which isn’t really stated in the game at any point. It just seems to be a somewhat arbitrary cap.

    Finally. Dwarves are fantastically powerful. By the time your economy stabilises when you get to around late Level 2/Level 3, you’ll be able to churn them out. Coupled with a Cleric, they’re nigh unstoppable: if their Cleric does go down, the beastly number of hitpoints they have will keep them alive long enough for you to resurrect the Cleric, her to do some shopping, and run all the way back to them.

    • Carra says:

      Healers should heal! No fancy dps builds for them.

      And you’re right: some missions need to be played twice. Once to figure out where the danger and the rewards are. The next to adapt your building locations, strategy and place your flags correct.

      It’s why a random generator such as the original is better. Replay the mission and the enemy and rewards would be in different places. You couldn’t rely on prior knowledge but had to figure out things while you played.

    • overlordubiquitous says:

      The random map generator in the original Majesty was quite excellent, with a wide range of variables you could tweak. A friend and I spent long hours playing random maps co-op over LAN.
      However, after looking through the scant amount of maps provided for multi-player, I can’t see the same levels of interest happening. The Majesty formula doesn’t really work with PvP conflict, and that’s all they’ve got going on in the multi-player maps.

      Disappointing.

  31. tomhet says:

    “…and a strange but oddly useful bug that allows you to build beyond the nominal maximum of a guild hall’s heroes if you’ve got guys in the graveyard, waiting to be respawned.”

    Apparently this is not a bug. Game manual says that if you hire a hero filling up a guild then resurrect a dead one, the weakest of them goes to the castle and waits for his place in the guild (you can build a new one). If he is tired of waiting, he eventually leaves forever.

  32. The Waltz - at work... says:

    It’s a great concept I think.. It’s like a dungeon master sim!

    I have always wanted a multiplayer game that worked that way, with one player setting up monsters and the rest knocking them flat as heroic 1 inch models. I am pretty sure there is a warcraft3 map similar to that, if not exactly like that… since they pretty much have everything else…

  33. Alez says:

    Short version: It’s a very bad game with interesting ideas. I’ve never played the first so no nostalgia involved. Maybe if that were the case, i would have enjoyed it a little more.

    Long version: I thought at first i’ve found some Dungeon Keeper kinda gameplay, only seriously gayer. I was willing to be gay just to have at least half of the greatness of DK. But unfortunately this game sucks ass. It’s gimmick of not being able to control heroes is the only thing saving it from being butchered by reviewers. Take that away and you’re left with a game too bad even for 1996 and higher.

    And the flags thing doesn’t feel so special after you realize that you still right click on enemies to be attacked. Just that now you don’t select which of your units attack them, just right click and pay money for an enemy to die. The faster you want the enemy to die, the more money you pay.
    You have more flag types but that’s just an illusion. You right click on the ground and it’s an explore flag. You right click on the enemy and it’s an attack flag. Ye get my point?
    This kinda reminds me of company of heroes valour expansion with their gimmick “control the units directly” bullshit. Where instead of saying you just forced fire on a spot like you could do in any C&C game, they said you control the unit like it was something new and special.

    As for the building part, it’s a joke. If you don’t have direct control over units, it’s not a typical RTS so you better give me something worth my attention in the other parts of the game. Anno series compared to age of empires for example. Anno has very bad focus on fighting but makes up for it with it’s superb economics. This game gives you nothing, neither focus on combat, neither focus on building.

    • Carra says:

      Comparing anno with age of empires makes little sense. The one is a city builder, the other an RTS. I never even bothered with the military part in anno. Anno is to be compared with games like Caesar while age of empires can be compared with starcraft. With some titles like stronghold holding an interesting middleground between the two.

      I think this game falls more into the category of tycoon game. Build an empire and watch how your little people run through it.

  34. Carra says:

    I’m a huge fan of the original. One of those handful of games I pull out of my shelf and replay once a year. I enjoy this kind of gameplay: build something and watch little guys have fun in my creations. Rollercoaster tycoon, theme hospital, dungeon keeper, evil genius, majesty… I’ve been having a go at the majesty sequel now and I agree: it’s not a perfect game. It’s a game that wants me keep on playing yet I am bothered with a few minor to big faults.

    Some of the hero classes feel to similar. An archer, a sun archer and an archer elf? A dwarf, paladin or warrior? Clerics or priestesses of Agrela? The temple classes just feel like boosted versions of the regular classes. The original game had some great, original heros. Priestesses of Krypta could summon skeletons and drain life. Fervus guys could transform themselves into a bear and charm animals. Both of these classes also had a lot of charm thanks to their voice acting. Less temple classes with a more unique feeling would be the better option to general classes.

    One of the important features missing is a random generator. In the original version each mission of the campaign was randomly generated. This added a lot to the replayability. Replaying a mission means that it’s slightly different. And it gives you a sandbox generator. The trailer mentions one but they must have missed the time to implement one. Just like they missed the time to give the game a bit more polish.

    And then there’s indeed the difficulty spikes at times. I didn’t have any problems with the skeleton king, rats or dragon that flew in. I do have some problems with the second last mission, still on it. I managed to kill all the small temples and have around twenty lvl 10+ heroes that are all busy to kill him. The boss has a shitload of hitpoints and has an aoe stun. Healers stunned, hero dies. Come on, I have 20 heroes beating on him and cleared the rest of the map! I might try with the anti stun temple, the resurrection temple and the shield temple but missions like this do not leave much to the players choice.

    But worst of all, I’m getting random crashes. Having that boss down to 80%? Crash. Reload. Crash. Reload. Crash. Replaying the mission helps but there’s no excuse for crash to desktop bugs.

    All in all I do find it to be a very enjoyable game. Fans of the original majesty or tycoon games should check it out. But you might want to wait for a patch which solves some of the major issues.

    • luminosity says:

      Yes, my big annoyance with the game is the terrible, terrible balance in the last few missions. The one before yours where you’re stuck between two kingdoms, and if you don’t build out in a specific direction and spam dwarven towers asap, you die to massive swarms of clerics and paladins. And your mission, where I did the entire mission cleared everything with ease, had a large and diverse group of heroes including some I hadn’t tried before — you know, that whole variety thing. Then the imp adviser boss is stupid and slaughters everyone. Turns out you pretty much have to spam dwarves or paladins and healers on that map, since the dwarves and paladins won’t die in the stuns for the 5 minutes or os it takes to bring the imp down.

      Argh. So close, yet so far.

    • Carra says:

      I gave it another go today with the knowlegde I had from yesterday.

      With knowing the whole map and scripts it was a breeze. I had my heroes attacking him after 55 of the 85 days. I only built rangers, clerics, paladins, dwarves and agrela priestesses. With two paladins decked in the best gear tanking him there wasn’t much of a problem. I just had to quickly build up my economy to have the gold to rezz people and cast a few immune to magic spells.

      And that’s a problem with this game. The map is the same, the scripts are too. I knew that ogres would come from the east so i built a few towers there. I knew that lots of imps would come from the north so I put a defense there. And I knew I had to quickly erase all the enemies. I already figured out I had to use the high hp units like paladins and dwarves or they would get one shotted. Too many missions had to be played twice. Once to get your strategy straight. Once to flush the map.

      The mission before was indeed very similar. Knowing that the enemies met at the northern part I build all my buildings in the south. And with two dwarven towers in the east the paladins were kept at bay. Second playthrough wasn’t so hard anymore.

  35. Megazver says:

    What this game needs is an addon.

    Still a pretty good game, though.

  36. Torgen says:

    So…. Majesty 2 or Hinterlands? Or Majesty Gold?

  37. cowthief skank says:

    My old Physics teacher used to joke, “Watt is the unit of power?”

    Perhaps it is only really funny to physicists…

  38. doctorfrog says:

    Hm. This is going to be a ‘bad comment.’

    Here goes.

    They should somehow magically infuse some of the action and purpose of Majesty into a massive and wonderful Startopia mod.

    I’m thinking of all the existing framework and gameplay of Startopia, with the ‘rout the monsters’ and ‘bribe the heroes’ action of Majesty. The enemy AI directors in Startopia were boring and not terribly bright, it’d be great replace them with alien breeding dens and pirate bases, finding technological treats along the way.

    There. My impossible wish. Life is better on the inside of a torus.

  39. cowthief skank says:

    Um. I clicked reply. That was a reply. I don’t think this site likes me.

  40. Frosty840 says:

    Trying to kill the Skeleton King opened up an entire world of crazyily rebuilding stuff all over the map and repairing my palace every three or four seconds until I could lure him away from my palace.

    Game’s too short, though. It’s got an indie-game level of content, despite the hour or so of dialogue from the crappy Connery impersonator. Ah well. More money wasted.

  41. Railick says:

    He's not a crappy Connery impersonator he's a crappy impersontar of the crappy Connery impersonator from the first game :P (Who I thought was funny)

  42. Wu's Mum says:

    OMG…this is what happened to me.
    1) installation of the game
    2) playing first campaign
    3) right click on an open area, no response from the so called ‘heroes’
    4) repeat for the next 30 seconds
    5) got raged. chucked my mouse into the bin
    6) house caught on fire.
    \8) i woke up.

  43. Aon says:

    Having frown up playing the original Majesty I have to say I’m pretty disappointed by this one. I think that the new engine looks nice, with the lighting effects being pretty nice at times. The physics are also really cool, seeing warriors arbitrarily swinging their swords at a graveyard and seeing massive chunks of stone flying off in directions is often pretty hilarious, and even such things as the trees ragdolling around after you build atop them are all nice touches, however I find that the majority of the game is lacking the charm of the original.

    All of the classes have become sadly homogenized in appearance, to the extent that you can often mistake one for another on the map, problem that never occurred in the original majesty due to it’s subscription to the style Team Fortress 2 has since popularized; distinctive character silhouettes. Each character was very quite visually distinct, owing to a more ‘cartoony’ art style than Majesty 2 has gone for, which I believe contributed to the games overall character. The homogonisation of the classes is also something which has sadly occurred in game play as well, with both the abilities of the heroes and their personalities becoming far less distinct. To provide examples of how it was different in the original, the healers of Majesty one didn’t possess the magical ranged attack that the healers in #2 do, they had only puny daggers to defend themselves with if a minotaur attack their home, meaning that they required someone else to come over and assist them in defending their home. Now they have reasonable offensive prowess and have adopted some of the roles that previously only a wizard could fill. Or to demonstrate the personality changes, in the first game rogues would quickly abandon any reward flag they were pursuing if they thought they could make more gold by themselves, for example if there was a large chest full of gold along their path, while in majesty 2 they’ll just walk right past a giant chest of gold, which seems out of character really, and destroys the ‘first to come but least reliable’ dynamic of the class.

    Some of the humor has also been lost in the audio design imo, as the new path of pop culture references and self referential anachronistic mockery ( ‘have you filled out form 87-Y–5G78/4b?’ ;__;) lacks the ‘soul’ of the original goofy fantasy humor, which made fun of itself merely by doing it’s thing, which created a world which was funny, as opposed to a world which was filled with jokes. While you can laugh at both, the pop culture path detracts from immersion within the setting, while having merely a world which is funny does not.

    After playing through the first eight odd missions of Majesty 2, I reinstalled Majesty Gold and had a few hours of that to try and see whether I was merely viewing the earlier one with rose tinted glasses and whether there were any features from the sequel that I missed. While most of my suspicions were confirmed, I have to say that the ‘Defend’ flag and the ability to queue up things in a building are pretty nice enhancements to the usability of the whole thing, as is the list of heroes in the upper right (although i don’t begrudge the original this, as it was from a day of less screen space). However, there are some omission from the original which make no sense to me, such as removing the name and level of each hero from beneath the character, which built more of an attachment to the individual heroes, while in the second one I think of my heroes only as levels and not with names, which makes me significantly less sad when they die. As does the cheap resurrection option, which destroys the penalty for foolishly sacrificing your heroes. Also the original had a very nice feature whereby a small section of the screen would permanently follow one hero of your choosing, further increasing your attachment to the little guys, something which is resoundingly lacking in the sequel. Which is also too easy, but that’s a personal preference.

    It’s interesting hearing from people who haven’t played the original and seeing how they view the sequel, and how much the city building aspect frustrates people. To me the arbitrary nature of building placement (along with the automatic peasant housing system) has always been trying to reflect the organic nature of town growth in the middle ages, how in the absence of town planners people just sort of built stuff where it was needed.

    Having admittedly grown up on the original however, I would be interested to put someone who had never played either game in front of both for 2 hours and see which leaves the stronger impression. Sorry about the wall of text, Aon. (If this is too long, could someone email me? I’ll convert this into a blog post instead and link that instead :p )

  44. CMaster says:

    Played the demo, with it’s two rather odd missions – a very easy tutorial and a pretty damn hard defense mission. Thought it was really good fun, but can certainly see how it would get repetive after a while. My immediate thoughts were “this would be a good purchase when it show up in the bargain bin”

  45. Pod says:

    The PCGamer podcast made this sound rather terrible — ie having to continunally pay gold just to get your dudes to explore, etc. It sounded rather frustrating to me. Is this another example of “fantastic idea, shit game” ?

  46. Katsumoto says:

    Hmm, I massively enjoyed the tutorial part of the demo but then couldn’t get anywhere with the “Defend against innumerable swarms of hard-arse ogres” level. Going from this review and the comments, it seems fair to say that that second bit may be more representative? I.e. massively frustrating. Couldn’t stay on top of things at all. ‘Tis a shame, because from the tutorial I was almost ready to pre-order it pretty much there and then!

  47. Nando says:

    For me it seem more like a 3D remake of the first Majesty.

  48. Shaz says:

    Absolutely silly question coming up, but y’see, I loved the original game. I played it over over again throughout the years because the humour and, of all things, the NPC voices tickled my funny bone *just right*. I have the voices downloaded on my PC just because they still make me grin.

    If anyone else felt the same way, about the silliness with the voices/ways the heroes (and even peasants & tax collectors) acted, did they capture that in this one?

  49. Lucas says:

    FYI, GoGamer currently has a Majesty 2 import (EU) on special for $25.

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