Publisher: Paradox Interactive
Developer: 1C Company
System Requirements: Windows 2000/XP/Vista; 2 GHz dual core processor; 1 GB RAM; 4 GB free hard drive space; 512 MB, PS 2.0, GeForce 6800GTX or better; DirectX-compatible sound card; DirectX 9.0c; 3-button Mouse or keyboard; Internet connection for multiplayer component
ESRB rating: Teen
Release date: Available now
1C must be making money from the Majesty franchise, as they have released yet another expansion. This time, the king (you) and your Sean-Connery-talking advisor are kicked out of power by your own people, leaving you with little option but to make alliances with those monsters you’ve spent the last few expansions fighting. Majesty 2: Monster Kingdom sees you take the reins of leadership once more, raising a horde of goblins, rat-men, and liches to facilitate your return to power. In other words, it’s time to be the bad guy.
You might think that running a fantasy kingdom composed of monsters would play dramatically different than a kingdom of heroes. In fact, if you thought that, you would be wrong. All of the Majesty gameplay fundamentals remain in place. You build structures, collect taxes, hire monsters, and place bounties to encourage them to complete objectives. Monsters are upgradable and have prestige classes just like heroes in the previous versions of the game, and the Hall of Chieftains acts just like the Hall of Lords, allowing you to retain your best monsters from map to map. Veteran Majesty players will find themselves right at home. In fact, even the NPC enemies are the same. Crypts, demonic portals to Hell, bear dens, and a host of other non-aligned enemies and locations await your monstrous minions.
And it’s a good thing, too, since your monsters want to spend their hard earned loot just like heroes. Monsters require the same kinds of support services with which players are familiar. Moreover, they seem to require the exact same services that heroes need, including bazaars and blacksmiths. The upgrades monsters use are apparently just like ones your heroes have used in previous expansions, except with the names changed, so the same strategies apply. Build structures that give monsters a place to buy goodies that make them better in combat, and you get a cut of these sales in the form of taxes, which you use to pay monsters for doing your bidding. The cycle of life in Monster Kingdom is the same as it is in the rest of the expansions.
In fact, this sameness pervades the whole expansion. It doesn’t take very long for any experienced player to see that 1C basically reskinned Majesty with monsters and monster jokes without substantially changing gameplay. Their names may be different, but various monsters correspond almost perfectly to their heroic counterparts. As such, it really adds very little. There are a bunch of new missions, but since the gameplay hasn’t changed, the expansion becomes just a mission pack.
Since very little has changed in terms of gameplay, none of my previous complaints have been addressed. There is still no way to encourage or discourage civilians from building homes in stupid places, and there is still no way to restrict bounties to individuals or single parties. The AI has improved a bit, but never fear, the game is as difficult as ever. After the initial missions, you will be treated to the same psychotic difficulty as the original, which, ironically, many players love about this franchise.
With all that said, is it worth the cost? Priced at $14.99 at GamersGate, players who are looking for new missions might want to pick up a copy. But no one should purchase this expansion if they are expecting any substantial changes. This is still Majesty 2, not Majesty 2.1.