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Chivalry: Medieval Warfare Review

– Scott Ellison

Our Score: 3 / 5 – Okay

Chivalry is defined as: The medieval knightly system with its religious, moral, and social code. Does Torn Banner Studios revive this lost long art, or is it dead for good?

The crew at Torn Banner Studios has a recent success story from Kickstarter, as they received over the funding necessary to complete their game. Medieval Warfare is a successor to Age of Chivalry, which was released in 2008 as a mod for Half-Life 2. Dreams do come true, and the result is a finely crafted multiplayer medieval first-person combat game.

The Training mode is quite possibly the most fleshed out and interesting tutorial of any game I’ve played. It gives you the training you need. But rather than it be a dull experience to learn how to play, this is the way that back story is told and are given context as to why you’re training. You’ll walk out of Training with a clear understanding of the game’s mechanics and be ready to spill blood. You can also create an offline game to practice with bots, while they aren’t the smartest of AI, they will kill enemies and often get in your way or attack each other for no good reason – so it replicating a real multiplayer battle exactly.

Chivalry drives on it’s class system. You must choose between a Rogue who wields bowed weapons and daggers, a Man-at-Arms who carries a heavy broadsword and can dodge, the Knight who is the standard tank of sword & shield, or the Vanguard who focuses on polearms and distanced piercing weapons. Each character has a starting weapon for primary, secondary and a tertiary that is either a throwable weapon or a shield. As you use and get kills with your equipped weapon, it will unlock new weapons to use that aren’t necessarily better, or worse for that matter. The unlocked weapons show off the attention to medieval military history and give you new ways to kill as each weapon has it’s own characteristics of speed and damage.

Combat is skillful once you put in a couple of hours, but switching to a new weapon more than likely resets that clock as you have to learn it’s nuances. Chivalry makes it easy to massacre your friends and strangers alike, but not without having to utilize team-based tactics. All too often you’ll see 2v1 battles with enemies in order to bring them down by sheer numbers and distractions. One-on-one battles are more methodical and trying to out-think your opponent. The game and the weapons are well-balanced you never feel you aren’t good enough.

Body location damage plays a major role in the game, so much so that there are specific area damage. When slashing an enemy with a sharp weapon, you have the chance to amputate an arm or a leg or simply sever a head from the body. From the receiving end, the camera will stay at the head and you can watch as your own head rolls down a hill. It’s disturbing and amazing at the same time. Blunt weapons have more of a tendency to crush skulls and push shielded warriors back.

The modes of play aren’t very original and contain things you’d expect a multiplayer game to have, Free-For-All, Team Deathmatch, King of the Hill, and Team Objective. This is where Chivalry: Medieval Warfare surprises you, the objectives are the most involving and exciting events I’ve played in a long while. You’ll have mission where you have to burn a town down, kill the residents, then push a battering ram to the castle door to bust it down with the end goal of killing the king. The attackers have a long road ahead of them, and the defenders will be there every step of the way to push them back from whence they came.

Being a medieval game, the game’s soundtrack features an ensemble of strings and drums setting the mood. As you near the end of a match, sweeping orchestral music evokes adrenaline regardless whether you’re winning or losing, made me willing to throw it all down no matter what it takes to complete the goal. It’s really so simple to use music to fuel your emotions, but the first person perspective sells it so well that I couldn’t help but get caught up in it. Voice-work is really good, providing guttural screams and warcries. There’s even a button to yell that could rally your team towards and objective as you’re storming a castle.

Utilizing the Unreal Engine 3 works for Torn Banner Studios in so many ways, to produce for some amazing effects as sun shafts poking through trees, rainfall, fire burning, and the richest blood you’ve seen. There’s the occasional visual glitch or texture draw in that the engine is synonymous for and not to the fault of the developer. Unfortunately though there are some stiff animations and forced character movement that looks like they are running on ice. It’s noticeable but not game-breaking. The way that ballistas are firing on castles as debris is breaking off and the way the ground trembles makes you feel as though you’re part of something bigger than the battle you’re currently in.

Games can be long quite lengthy, and demand your attention but are rewarding even during a loss. There are some present bugs that still need to be sussed out. It being multiplayer only is driven by the community and a constant stream of updates. It’s lack of machine guns, laser rifles, and kill streaks that drop containers the size of cars it makes for a very compelling and immersive first-person combat game. The price is a little steep, but I feel Torn Banner Studios can clean up the bugs and provide meaningful updates to the game that will make it worth the purchase. Off with their head!

Retails for: $24.99, Recommended Purchase Price: $14.99

A code for the game was provided by the developer for review purposes

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