In days of old, when knights were bold, you couldn’t get a tin of Brasso for love nor money. The smell of the oiled steel, the cries of the sick and dying and oppression of the local Baron landowners. Medieval times, eh?
Chivalry Medieval Warfare then, is a hack and slash, first person, online multiplayer yomp through the usual game modes that fps games usually offer. Included in this are Team Deathmatch, Team Objective, Last Team Standing & Free For All, with another two there to be unlocked by anyone with patience enough to last that long. These can be played as a single player. You get the choice of four characters to play, being Archer, Man At Arms, Vanguard & Knight. Each of these has their own switchable olde worlde loadout and each also has appropriate attributes such as armour and speed. Take a note of these as it should be a trade off.
Training mode is recommended, but is frankly awful. Your character simply doesn’t react quickly enough to perform combos, which is strange as for the rest of the time, your opponents, especially the AI, seem to flounce around with the grace and speed of Legolas while you seem to be weighed down by lead armour-plate. The Advanced Training arena is a prime example. I marveled at a Vanguard in full chainmail skipping around like Ali in the ring while your character, in a tunic, clumsily swings and mostly, misses.
In the training mode, you learn that every offensive and defensive action you make takes stamina. Deplete your stamina too quickly and you’ll be at your opponent’s mercy. It’s also here that you learn the flimsy backstory to the two sides that eventually will become you and the others. To cut a short story even shorter, you’re one army, they’re another. You get to choose before every game, so this bit is really quite pointless. Training also teases you with the promise of siege engines and you get to play all too briefly with Catapult, Ballista, Battering Ram and some form of mobile step system, whose name currently escapes me. All you do is push it by walking into it, it obviously made an impression. I didn’t get the opportunity to use any of these in the actual game though, it looks to be something you need to progress to unlock.
The single player options are decent enough, however it soon becomes apparent that the AI is horrendous. In fact it is so bad, I considered simply finding the light sources and watching my shadow, with battleaxe moving gracefully in front of me while my weapon remained perfectly stock still. Your playing character attributes, remember, I asked you to bear them in mind, seem to make little difference to the way you move, or the speed you fight. The Archer is supposed to be the quickest with the least armour. You’d expect he’d be able to nimbly dodge that hulking tin pot covered Knight bearing down on you, right? Oh, am I dead again?
This happens far too often for this to be balanced correctly. It’s down to the finer arts of mash the triggers and forget the finess. You should be able to perform combos and feints. These are far too tricky to master and are let down by the control system.
Damage-to-kill ratio appears wildly out of kilter too. One arrow to the shoulder killed my Man-At-Arms one time while I hacked away merrily at a Vanguard bot to no little or no damage. Lose an arm & you’re a-goner, and yes, every so often you can lop off somebody’s head. All healthy gruesome fun until you realise that the puddle of sticky crimson fun you unleashed has very rapidly disappeared. Not that this is so heavy on the visuals that it can’t keep it there for long, surely?
Chivalry’s Graphics look ok until you start to notice these little things that simply don’t make sense, like your arm disappearing through your opponent’s shield and reappearing on the other side, with the top of your current weapon sticking out.
There are some comic moments, like the local yokel scratching his backside during training, but these are few and far between. When you start the training mode, look at the waves crashing against the shore and you’ll see exactly what I mean. They’re mere tiles of white, pretending to be waves. Some of it has obviously had some thought, I’m just not sure if that thought has been spread evenly over the game as a whole.
The gameplay is what should matter in this though and while there are a number of multiplayer arenas to choose from, all lovingly drawn in the Unreal engine, it begins to feel a bit samey. The usual modes simply don’t offer the difference that should set it apart and it gets either frustrating or far too comical very quickly. Inevitably though, you either get ganged up on and butchered or watch on in fits and giggles as the other side kill each other, as happened, quite unbelievably, in a Last Team Standing. This I saw far too often in the multi-player already which is a shame.
Overall, Chivalry, whilst it’s not quite dead, it would seem, more often than not, you will be. Glitchy graphics and a general unfinished, unpolished feel to the game spoil what could be a good first-person melee online multi-player game for console. The musical audio isn’t bad, but the grunts, gargles and general noises made by your knightly comrades distract. The voice-acting seems to have been somewhat of an afterthought and it shows, there’s also a particularly irritating bird that sings throughout as well. You are hampered by sluggish reactions and will end up on the receiving end of a halberd more times that Richard III. My advice would be, if you want first person sword-play, invest in, or revisit Skyrim, it’s much more enjoyable. Sometimes it’s the little things.
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