Chivalry: Medieval Warfare
AMD Radeon HD 5850
Chivalry: Medieval Warfare has its history set in the classic of Half-Life 2. Age of Chivalry, which brought the gory slaughter directly to our doorstep, had been a successful mod and, with Kickstarter now giving voice to the community, the team managed to secure the funds needed tomake a stand alone Multiplayer title. But does it stand on its own feet? Read on to find out.
A talent for violence - we all have it. It’s imprinted into the human DNA like tree rings in the forests of old. It’s part of us, dormant and secluded, somewhere in the foul depths of our frail bodies. We try to control it and we’ve invented Culture, Morals and Manners to do just that, yet, if allowed to take control, it becomes dominant, intoxicating and truly, we revel in it. War has a strange fascination to us all. No sane person would call for it, yet somehow as long as two Homo-sapiens walk this earth, we always find another excuse to bash each other’s heads in. The times in which we used the axe, arrow and spear might have passed but entertainment is needed and as such, it is no surprise that we find video games that try to emulate the carnage that was the medieval battlefield.
It might not be 'Big Bertha', but it gets the job done
The Kingdom of Agatha is in turmoil. King Argon has lost his supremacy over his proud holdings and the land is in civil war. Seizing the moment when King Argon departs from his Kingdom for the dreams of conquest and glory, The Mason Order, at first a small and secluded band of brothers, is now in open revolt with much of the former Kings men united under their banner. The struggle is brutal, no quarter is given and victory must be absolute.
The initial introduction to Medieval Combat is brief. No wonder, subtlety and finesse are nigh-impossible with the brutal arms of war that are pressed into each soldier’s hand. Slash, swing and thrust - one does not need more than that to cut a throat, crush a skull or utterly obliterate a human body. Chivalry’s Boot Camp, an opportunity for the aspiring warrior to hold a sword for the first time and take the fight to the evil that is a wooden log or clay pot, does well at preparing one for the future bloodbath. The combat mechanics are bizarre at first, with two of the three attacks being dependent on the mouse wheel, yet soon one will take them on as if they were the simplest of movements. Advanced training is required for those that wish it and they give the player the opportunity to perfect his fighting stance before having to forget everything again when faced with the brutal reality that is war.
To survive the combat in Chivalry, although violent and definitely not refined, one needs timing and precision, as well as a soldier’s instincts as to when to strike or press the initiative and when to search for your honourable allies. Armour is no protection against the crushing blows of an axe, nor will it provide aid when faced with a mighty warhammer. Since the Stamina system prevents the spamming of attacks, in order to vanquish your foes you better learn restraint, technique and obtain an indomitable will to slay all those that stand before you.
Summer time is BBQ time
Indeed, the melee combat is what you would expect from a game set in the Middle Ages. It goes right to the core of things without messing around with anything fancy or shiny. It is meaty, violent and blood-soaked. With cries of mercy and defiance all around you, the adrenalin kicks in and fear or any kind of self-control are shed aside. Sword in hand, bellow thy warcry and launch thyself upon thou foe.
In Chivalry, you won’t see honourable combat or a duel between two champions. No, what you experience will curdle your blood but make you secretly rejoice. Fights are over as quickly as they are started for those that do not mercilessly haunt the enemy, as they will soon find themselves surrounded, dismembered and on a one-way trip to the Netherworld. The combat is fluid, friendly fire is on and each blow can practically be felt with the weight of a gigantic swinging battle-axe often seemingly drawing your physical being into the game. The sound of a weapons edge biting into the flesh of your unfortunate victims will bring a smile to your face and while you slash at polygons utterly intent to rip open their guts, do not be surprised if a random head, arm or leg flies through the screen. This is the reality of war, its horrors and deeds. Chivalry pulls it off like no other. It is complete and utter carnage.
Live your life and party hard
With 36 different main weapons and three different types for each of the four classes that hold a different ability, the game gives you ample resources to battle it out. While most are unlocked after you have dispatched a set amount of enemy soldiers to oblivion, each weapon holds its merits and flaws, yet all remain brutally competent when it comes to killing people. It is a shame really that, while the melee combat immerses you in the bloody slaughter like few other games that came before, the ranged combat is somewhat dull. Of course, a well-placed arrow, bolt or javelin will certainly kill the target, yet with the shooting mechanics seemingly being little more than a by-thought, it will not draw the same kind of satisfaction as the melee does. But then again, only dishonourable peasants use ranged weapons and no true knight would ever choose to rely on such cowardly tactics. Apart from this arsenal, customization is kept to a bare minimum with only two different helmets for each class available for those that backed the project on Kickstarter and the game thus pulls way short of titles such as War of the Roses in this regard.
If the combat hasn’t already made you notice, the game is quite clearly set in the Dark Ages of Mankind. On six different maps, the war ensues around you with diverse objectives and goals for each. You try to capture a coastal fort and destroy the trebuchets defending the port, attempt to capture a town after slaying a multitude of filthy peasant – I’m serious, that’s what they are called – or rush the throne room in the hopes of slaying the king himself. Incorporating different aspects of war and lowering itself to even make the killing of innocent townsfolk an objective might not suit everyone, but as for the diversity and harsh realities of medieval warfare, Chivalry is pretty damn solid.
So...do we have a plan B? You know...something more...humane?
Apart from the screams or the meaty and crushing blows you dish out like there is no tomorrow, the games music often kicks in to give you that heroic feel you always wanted. Granted, due to the games immersive combat you’ll probably only realize the music in a few chosen moments, but these provide you with all the heroic fervor you need. Indeed, slaughtering your way through the enemy ranks, completing a mission objective and then collapsing from your mortal wounds while the background music kicks in, will make you feel like the next best Medieval badass after El Cid.
Visually, the game attempts to reinforce the gritty proceedings of slaughter by adding lots of blood, darker washed-out earthy tones, and stained unit colours. While the Unreal 3 engine might not pull off the feats of graphical greatness of newer titles, its reliability in ensuring a sound graphical setting that allowed the developers to produce a suitable visual feeling which bolsters the games immersion is noteworthy. It’s not what you would call gorgeous and has a few rough spots, but in a way the graphics reflect the game itself - rough, unpretentious and to-the-point.
Set in a fictional realm and with little regard for ‘armour values’, the game might not please those that insist on historical accuracy or truthful perceived realism. However, what the game lacks in these, Chivalry makes it up as an enjoyable and intoxicating medieval carnage simulator with the potential to hold those that revel in the gritty surroundings of bloody melee combat for many hours.
- Melee Combat: Glorious slaughter right at home.
- Diversity: Different maps and suitable objectives prevent boredom.
- Simulation of battle: Screams, blood and gore fill your screen – This is a true battlefield.
- Controls: Easy to use and streamlined for enjoyment.
- Visuals: No moments of marvel but fitting .
- Classes: All necessary classes with an ample supply of weapons.
- Limited Customization mainly due to not achieving Kickstarter goal.
- Tutorial: Great introduction but sadly it does not save your progress.
- Ranged Combat: As dull as it is cowardly.
- Auto-balance: No Auto-Balancing in the game as of yet.
Chivalry: MW, that is Medieval Warfare, not Modern Warfare, is a game that has put all its eggs into one basket – namely multiplayer (MP). There are no singleplayer modes, beyond the tutorial. Thus, one would expect that multiplayer to have enough enjoyment through great content (levels, weapons, etc...) and solid gameplay in order to satisfy those who purchase it. As it is a multiplayer only game, I was extremely glad to see that not only does it have a tutorial, it has a brilliant tutorial. The tutorial does a great job at teaching all the basic and advanced mechanics and also lets players experience each class and learn about them individually. This avoids the annoying trial and error process that other MP only games have. As an added bonus, the tutorial even has some funny humour and unique moments in it.
After finishing the tutorial, players can jump straight into battle. Or rather, straight into the server browser. Here players can filter out what mode and map they want to play on and choose a server to join. While I did encounter some issues, after having gone to the official Steam forums and followed the developer instructions on what to do with each error or crash, my game was soon fixed and good to go! Hopefully the developers will release a patch soon to fix all the known issues that are currently solved by workarounds. Once in a battle you can choose your class and get straight into the action! The initial battles will be the most challenging, as there is a large variety of new and skilled players on the game already. However, as you start to get the hang of it, it quickly becomes very fun to play. The only long run major issue I see with the game is the repetitiveness of the combat, but this is countered by amazing map design and hopefully the developers will bring new weapons and maps to the game further down the line. Overall, the game features fun and addictive combat, great visuals, amazing map design and a well designed tutorial.
It’s a strange time for First Person “Slashers”. They were such a rarity and suddenly we get Chivalry, War of the Roses and even Mount & Blade 2 just got announced. Though they look the same on paper, they are really quite different games in reality. Considering that Chivalry: Medieval Warfare is probably the most indie title from the bunch, it stands surprisingly firm on the battlefield.
Chivalry is a multiplayer only title with a rather competent singleplayer tutorial, that shows you all you need to know and probably more, whilst also including some fun “story” sections to distract your tutoring. The game is very hardcore with deep mechanics. Those usually turn lots of people away but, contrary to most other MP games, losing here did put a smile on my face. The kills you perform here will probably give you one of the most satisfying feelings you can get in gaming and not only because it’s hard, and make no mistake it’s very hard, but also because it’s violent, gory, up close and personal. The visuals are OKish, with some nice lighting but quite poor textures. Listening to the sounds you can tell that the developers really had fun recording all the battlecrys and you’ll just keep spamming the button for more pre-battle screams. The game itself is a bit clunky and seems to have a slight delay between the button presses and the actions taken. This is especially noticeable in movement and ranged combat, but even with all the downfalls it makes me feel very happy.