The Settlers V: Heritage of Kings

Real-time city building games don’t get any more traditional than Heritage of Kings. The fifth release in Blue Byte’s long-running fantasy RTS series is an ode to 1997, with a been-there, done-that feel that makes playing it quite captivating. In this regard, this game is more remake than sequel, albeit it benefits from highly detailed 3D graphics.

4_1Town development mirrors every resource-dependent RTS ever released, save for an interesting class division between units. But its kindergarten look at feudalism doesn’t make gameplay any less tedious. Miners may run on auto-pilot, but they’re dead-slow. Getting a village up and running can take upwards on an hour in each and every mission. Most of that time is spent twiddling your thumbs as you sit around waiting for resource stockpiles to hit the magic numbers needed to build a barracks, or upgrade a town center.

Combat doesn’t liven things up much. As with previous Settlers games, playing medieval city planner is an end to itself in Heritage of Kings. Skirmishes are brief, frantic affairs completely lacking in battlefield tactics. You pile up enough resources to research top military units like cannons and hurl the troops en masse at the opposition. As long as you build upgraded soldiers.

13_1Heroes are the most important component to be considered when going into battle, as their special abilities enhance the combat effectiveness of stock troops. Employing the six heroes properly is merely a matter of winding them up and letting them go. Enemy generals display no intelligence beyond cranking out units and launching similar blind charges, so you simply have to give heroes enough allies and let them automatically work their magic. Overall, you don’t have to possess the skills of Richard the Lionheart to send foes fleeing in panic.

Even the lone visible improvement to the game design does little but emphasize the rather generic nature of Heritage of Kings. Blue Byte has overhauled the visuals, replacing the townsfolk that gave the franchise much of its cutesy personality with realistic 3D models of miners, lumberjacks, knights, and so on. So while the game looks fantastic, with an incredible amount of detail in buildings and individuals, it’s lost the distinctive element that always set it apart from the crowd – arguably the game’s greatest fault.

System Requirements: Pentium III 1 GHz, 256 MB RAM, WinXP

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