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The Settlers: Heritage of Kings PC CD-ROM

Published by Ubisoft
Developed by Blue Byte
Release Date: Out Now
Price: £29.99

The Settlers: Heritage of Kings, an introduction.

The Settlers has long been a favourite amongst RTS gamers. Unlike most RTS games, The Settlers has always been a different story from the usual fast mouse moving, hotkey mastering experiences of other titles in the genre. In fact one of the most alluring aspects of The Settlers series is that you can create your own community and sit back and watch it develop. Whilst this is certainly true of the first two games in the series it's noticeable that the third and fourth games began to lose this quality and if anything were less appealing games.

What's the game about?

The game is essentially the story of Dario and his quest to take his rightful place as the King of the Old Empire. Dario only learns that he is the rightful heir from his mother as she is near to death. On hearing the news Dario decides to claim what is rightly his and throughout the course of the campaign you'll see this quest unravel. Naturally Dario has enemies but there are also hero units/characters that will assist him throughout his quest. The game's campaign feels more like a standard RTS campaign than one from a Settlers game but nevertheless it's quite enjoyable. Along with the campaign you'll also have a collection of single player maps that allows for skirmish games. You'll also be able to play over a LAN or on the Internet. Game modes include Conquest, Technology Race and Point Game where you have to amass the highest score in a one hour game.

What's good about the game?

Essentially The Settlers: Heritage of Kings is a solid RTS that whilst it doesn't do anything particularly original is still a good game. The game is still heavy on resource management and fairly light on combat which is something that's always been the case with The Settlers series. For a 3D RTS the game looks quite impressive too and the various animations in the game have all been nicely done. The difficult task with trying to find positives with the game though is that virtually everything that's good about the game has been done many times before. There's not a lot here that's unique to the Heritage of Kings or The Settlers series in general. Suffice to say that it's a well rounded RTS game.

What's not so good about the game?

The biggest complaint with Heritage of Kings is that it has lost a lot of what made the series so popular. In all honesty it doesn't have that unique Settlers feeling to it anymore and the game plays like a more traditional RTS as a result. Whilst the basic ingredients that made up The Settlers series are all here it just doesn't feel right. In fact it reminded me more of Knights and Merchants than any of The Settlers games for some reason. When it comes to combat you'll notice that the enemy AI isn't the best in the genre and experienced RTS players won't find the game that difficult in this respect. The developers were obviously influenced by other RTS games and the appearance of hero units and the nature of the camera control feel like they have been taken straight from a Blizzard title. There is nothing particularly bad about this but The Settlers and The Settlers II had so much charm and individuality about them that it's very sad to see the series has lost it's identity and become like other RTS games in more ways than it should have.

How does it look?

The Settlers series is well know for its cutesy appearance and almost cartoon like characters. This fifth title in the series though turns away from all this and goes for a more realistic look to both the various structures within the game and the units. Whilst this will enable the game to appeal to those who disliked the previous look of The Settlers games it also runs the risk of upsetting long standing fans of the series. Personally I wish the previous look had been retained for the game but I have to admit the graphics certainly look good and as a 3D RTS it certainly stands up well against other games in the genre.

How deaf gamer friendly is the game?

For the most part Heritage of Kings is fine for deaf gamers. The game's Prologue, which acts as a tutorial, is subtitled so you will be able to learn the basics of the game. Most of the cutscenes are subtitled but the introduction movie to the campaign isn't for some reason. Cutscenes are shown in a letterbox format with the text appearing in the lower border. Comments that your units make when you issue orders to them are not subtitled. Throughout the game there are various verbal notifications which are not subtitled. However for most things an icon will appear on the left side of the screen and putting your mouse cursor over these icons will reveal a text message that will give you the gist of what the verbal notification was about. Mission goals and objectives are shown in text and can be recalled at any time during a mission which is handy.

Final thoughts.

I would have loved for Heritage of Kings to have simply been a graphically superior remake of The Settlers II. For me that would have made for a game that would have allowed me to play for hours on end. As the game stands it's difficult to get excited about but that's not to say it's not enjoyable. Those of you looking for a good RTS where combat doesn't play such a major role will be happy with Heritage of Kings. Those looking for a game where combat is paramount or indeed a game that harks back to the earlier games in the series will be disappointed though.

 

Overall Game Rating: 7.0/10

Deaf Gamers Classification:


(Click the letter or here for details)

The Settlers return once more but a lot of the series' appeal seems to be missing. Heritage of Kings is a good RTS but it doesn't offer anything that we haven't seen before. Some areas of the game aren't subtitled but there's no real cause for concern for deaf gamers.