Developed by IC Company, published by Got Game Entertainment. System Requirements: Windows 95/98/ME/2000/XP DirectX 7.0 DirectShow 6.0 Intel Indeo 5.06 Pentium II 400 MHz or faster 128Mb RAM (256MB recommended) Video adapter supporting 1024x768x16 HDD 500MB 8x CD-ROM (16x recommended) Mouse DirectX compatible Sound card (16 bit, 44 kHz, stereo)

In Konung 2, you play as one of the six remaining warriors of Titan descent. A powerful warrior has taken over Woodland with the power of an ancient bracelet of lordship, and you, as one of Titan\'s descendants, are the only ones who can take Woodland back.

So what is this game, and how does it work?

Konung 2 is a Russian developed game which Got Game has brought to the US. A Konung is a warrior leader of a town which is left with the responsibility to defend that town. In exchange, they pay their Konung tribute and offer services for free. You start the game alone, or even as the Konung of a village already, depending on the character. This game is a real-time action/adventure RPG with bits of strategy thrown in. Though the action may seem Dungeon Siege/Diablo like, it\'s really not so much so. Battle really takes a back burner to plot development, especially early on. Battle is a means to an end, not and end in and of itself. For example, in the early game, you can EASILY get beaten to a pulp by a small group of level 1 monsters. At a matter of fact, it is nearly impossible to beat a group like that starting out. In the beginning, you must flee bravely to fight again another day when you are stronger. Once you find safety, you gain experience and levels by completing quests. This experience can be quite substantial, which is unusual in RPGs where fighting is the main source of experience points. Once you gain a few levels, you might have a chance against one of those level 1-3 monsters I mentioned earlier. But a group? Unlikely. What you need to do is raise your Charisma, earn some money (there are many ways to do this non-combat) and gain partners either by hiring mercenaries or solving quests where another helping hand joins you. As you gain levels for yourself and your party members, you can set out and defeat many more enemies. One of the things that makes combat difficult is that there is no such thing as pause in combat. If you are fighting, you better have that potion or healing skill ready - unless you turn on auto-potions, but that can burn through them faster than you may like. Another thing is that when you are hit, your current action is canceled - so if you get into the wrong pattern, two (or even one) enemy can hit you repeatedly without you being able to counterattack. This means ganging up on enemies makes a big difference, and as such, can work to your advantage as well as you get a larger party. Nevertheless, keep an eye on that health, and work that healing skill as appropriate. Each town you become a Konung over earns you certain rights. One of the big bonuses is that you can not only earn a tribute as mentioned earlier, but you can also pick and choose from up to three party members to be added to your group, and preferably be replaced by a has-been still hanging around with you ;). Each town has up to three replaceable roles - the blacksmith(most important), the healer, and the voevode, or warchief/trainer. No town is \'complete\' without them all, and each one contributes to the town\'s ability to withstand an attack from the Ruler\'s soldiers. The blacksmith is most important because you can choose to spend a portion of the tribute you receive on weapons for the villagers, which greatly increases the likelihood of survival. The voevode allows each villager\'s level to slowly increase up to the level of the voevode, with the exception of the hireable characters from what I have seen (not sure on that one though). And healers can heal you when you visit them, and sell you useful potions. This whole village management aspect is what builds in the largest strategy component. Either way, I find it to be a fun tangent on occasion. It\'s also not very time consuming - you give your orders to the village elder, and they are carried out in your presence or absence. You have to be present to receive you tribute, however. There are also many towns that you can visit, and sometimes become Konung of. There is an overview map where you can travel between towns, with the occasional ambush. There is also sea travel as well. One tip: perform odd \'jobs\' for the local merchant in each town. There are certain locations that cannot be opened up any other way. Magic in this game is really more or less just magical items. You can cast no spells at all. Your \'magic\' skill affects how much effect your enchanting with magical \'Singing Items\' has. For example, you can add damage, armor, strength, vitality, or agility to any item - and multiple effects if you so choose. There is a limit to each effect, which is +6 per item for Str/Agil/Vit, and +48 for Armor and Damage. One great effect from having a maxed out magic skill (the max for all skills is 100) is that you can reach that maximum effect from just one magic stone. This can greatly enhance your effectiveness in battle. Battle always involves swinging a sword/axe/club, or using a bow/crossbow. You can also use two-handed weapons, wield a one-handed one with a shield, or go for the gusto with one weapon in each hand. In order to wield two weapons, you must have a skill of at least 50 in one weapon beforehand. Each level you gain gives you 25 experience points to distribute to your attributes or skills however you like. Attribute points cost two per use, and skill points cost only one. Always save before using the points, as you never know how raising one attribute will effect what skills you can raise. Certain skills can only be raised at all, or past a certain point by a certain combination of skill and/or attribute levels. Also, attributes can be raised up to 150 each, so that 20 strength you may have really isn\'t as good as you might think. Attributes also effect what weapons and armor you can use. I have never seen any item require more than 95 Str/Agil/Vit, but in order to have a full compliment of 9 people in your party, you will need at least 130 Charisma...

So what are the graphics in this game like?

The graphics in this game are quite dated, especially for a game that came out in late 2004. I would say they would have been quite good in the 1996 time frame. Nevertheless, they do the job fairly well. As a bonus, it runs well on my laptop which is always a nice feature. :) They are mostly pretty polished with the occasionally noticeable glitch. I noticed that once in a great while two textures would have a \'hole\' in between them where, say, water might be visible underneath. I only saw this kind of glitch maybe twice in the game, but it was there nonetheless. Overall they fit the bill, but are nothing spectacular.

How is the sound and music?

The sound effects are kinda simple - they convey what they are meant to more or less. The voice acting, which is mostly in little spurts (there are no voice-over conversations) are okay, but can become a bit repetitive. Some of the background noises were a little unusual, and I have no idea if they \'fit in\' or not - but I wasn\'t overly bothered by them. I found the music to be fairly decent; enough so where I would occasionally have a tune stuck in my head and not mind all that much. They fit the mood fairly well. I kinda like the town music. My wife found that the sounds when someone dies or are hurt to be a little to realistic sounding, almost creepy. Some of the monster noises when hurt are also quite distinct, and can be similarly annoying or creepy, depending on your disposition. Sometimes the volume of the sound effects seemed a little off, or too loud for the circumstance. Crickets sure can chirp loud! Much louder than the local blacksmith\'s hammering...

What of the controls?

This game is almost entirely mouse driven. You click to attack, you click to talk (with the exception of talking to party members; you ctrl+click to talk to them, including yourself.) You click to move. You can change friendly/attack status with either the mouse or keyboard. You scroll the screen camera with the mouse, which is okay, but I greatly wished that there was a way to do so with the keyboard similar to many strategy games. You also have to be careful when in attack mode, as you can easily accidentally kill an innocent bystander - even if there are enemies nearby, the AI may kill the nearest person, even if it\'s friendly. Of course mis-clicking when in attack mode can also get an entire town to attack you. The controls work okay and you get used to them, but they could have been a little bit better.

So is this a well polished product then?

Unfortunately.. no. While this game has a lot going for it, it has a few pretty nasty flaws that take away from it and give it that less than polished feel. For one thing, it was translated from Russian, so it\'s not a perfect English translation. Also there are a few blatantly obvious spelling errors throughout, including the name of one of the six playable characters at one point. Another one I noticed a lot was the mighty \'Tow-handed double pole axe\' - I\'ll give you one guess what\'s wrong with this weapon. There are also a few lines in conversation throughout that make very little sense or have the occasional double-negative. My favorite example is when you tell a party member to stay where they are because you don\'t want them to get hurt. When you talk to them again, you can respond with \'No, so far I don\'t have enough experienced warriors.\' Now, I know from experience that it means you don\'t want to take them back yet - but it\'s a really wierd way of saying it. Also, often a description of an item will runn off of the screen, so you cannot read all of it. If you consider that the game only runs at 1024x768, there is no good excuse for that. Another unpolished aspect of the game is that while it\'s great that you can continue playing after beating the game - I\'m always for that - when noone recognizes that you saved the world, and indeed your own conversations reflect that you desire to go back and defeat the bad guy again/still - it meshes strangely with me. Also the instruction book is sorely lacking, and in some cases seems to even be outright wrong once in a while. Last but not least, it\'s not always obvious what an item does or what it will do. As always, save early and often. Fortunately, there are 10 save slots, so that\'s enough for most people to go around.

What kind of content can we expect?

First of all, in battles there is blood. Not the splattering kind (the graphics engine doesn\'t seem to support that) but under each corpse some blood will emerge to signify death. Also there is magic and other mythological items, but they are mostly tame. A few exceptions include a \'doll\', which gives you a hint of a Voodoo doll, as well as a \'Third Eye Berry\' which seems to do absolutely nothing from what I can tell - I\'ll update if I figure out what it does. There are also the magic stones mentioned before, which have runes on them. There are references to pagan gods in this game as well. The worst part is where a \'ritual\' is performed where a sacrificial knife is used to cut blood from your hand over an altar and place it in a magic vial, and so on. There is also a point in this ritual where they ask to \'feed the spheres of fire, air, and water\' (loose paraphrase) and make that offering to the Titans. The thing is that nothing visual ever takes place, only text, so the impact is blunted quite a lot. Nonetheless, these things are present. Curse words are used occasionally. I found references to \'D***it\', \'H**l\', and \'A**\'. There was also a discussion with a lady where it says \'A decent married woman shouldn\'t talk to men at night. And besides, I have a jealous husband.\' To which you reply, \'Too bad, sweetheart, but as you wish.\' That could be taken chauvinistically I would say.

How does this game fare overall?

First of all, I have to point out its excellent replay value. There are six characters, and each one has a distinctly different style, that impacts things for most of the game. The endgame is no doubt the same, but the side quests available, as well as the levels of characters in a town, as well as the type of conversations and responses available can vary dramatically based on who you choose to start. This leads to a desire to play the game as different characters, which is definitely a good thing in my opinion. On the other hand, there are many rough edges to contend with, and a fair amount of appropriateness issues to consider. Fortunately, they made this game far more considerable by making the initial MSRP to be $19.99. For a \'hardcore\' RPG gamer, if you can get past the initial frustration of not being able to kill anything for a while, you may enjoy this game. Even with all of its many quirks, it does have some things going for it, and I enjoyed it. But again it\'s not for everyone, especially those who do not enjoy obscure RPGs like I do, or who find this kind of content too much, no matter how nonabrasively it is presented.

Appropriateness Score: Violence 5/10 Language 5/10 Sexual Content/Nudity 8/10 Occult/Supernatural 4/10 Cultural/Moral/Ethical 7/10 Appropriateness Total: 29/50
Game Score: Game Play 15/20 Graphics 5/10 Sound/Music 6/10 Stability/Polish 2/5 Controls/Interface 3/5 Game Score Total: 31/50

Overall: 60/100

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Jason Gress

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