Real time strategy games usually rely on resource management and building massive armies to take out your enemies. Majesty 2 is breaks that conventions by having the AI control the units, rather than the player. It sounds interesting in theory but when it's put into practice it's an exercise in frustration, but somehow works out to be a fairly fun frustration exercise.
In the land of Majesty 2 (Ardania) great kings are remembered throughout history by slaying evil monsters. Unfortunately for King Leonard there are no great dragons, lich kings or ogres to slay. In his great wisdom, he commands the royal mages to summon a great demon from hell to slay. As you would presume, King Leonard was not successful in his foolish endeavor to slay a demon, which in turn happened to resurrect all the evil that was previously slain by the kings of yester-year. King Leonard will be remembered, but not for slaying great evil but by bringing evil back into Ardania. One of the Kings advisors hunts down the last of the royal blood line (the player) and dubs him the new King of Ardania. Your quest of course is to send the demon back to whence it came.
Majesty 2 is pretty simple and the learning curve is fairly non-existent so anyone that is new to the game or RTS's in general won't be overwhelmed. As mentioned earlier, Majesty 2 gives you indirect control over your kingdom via your palace in each settlement. Needless to say if your palace crumbles, you die and you lose the mission. You don't have to manage peasants, warriors, clerics and gold as every aspect of as it is controlled by the AI. This will be frustrating for most RTS veterans as you'll be wanting to click on units expecting them to do your bidding. The only way to get your heroes to do your bidding is with monetary incentives. By doing so, you have to place flags across the map. Those flags being; fight, defend, fear and explore. Certain classes of heroes will respond better to particular flags. Warriors obviously respond to fight and defend flags more so than the "explore" flag that used to remove the fog of war. Not to say that a warrior won't respond to an explore flag, but if there are fight and defend flags they'll respond to those first over explore. I still have yet to see how setting a reward for a "fear" flag works. There's one really irritating problem when it comes to the attack flag. If your heroes are attacking an enemy lair, sometimes they'll completely ignore being attacked, and proceed to just wail on the monster den, opposed to doing the most logical thing; defending themselves. Hopefully this is fixed in a later patch as it's really bad AI and it can be quite humorous at times as it just goes to show you that even AI will do just about anything for money, even ignoring a sense of preservation.. As your heroes level up they're going to want more money for these tasks. The following classes are available once you build their respective guilds:
Warriors: As mentioned earlier, damage dealers and respond the best to fight and defend flags.
Clerics: They heal your heroes and any other units that have been hurt.
Rangers: Explore and use a bow for a ranged attack. They respond best to explore flags.
Rogues: They're capable of dishing out a lot damage when leveled up, respond best to any flag where the reward for gold is high but tend to run away from battle when they're getting attacked.
Wizards: Deal a lot of damage from afar, can't take many hits before they die.
Dwarfs: Warriors that are highly resistant to magic attacks, that happen to hate elves.
Elves: Archers that are capable of casting buff spells on heroes.
Along with getting access to these units (3 heroes per guild) you can research spells and abilities that you can cast for a certain sum of gold. For instance, when you build a clerics guild, you have the option to research "heal" that allows you to heal any of your heroes for a small sum of money. Some guilds can also provide services to your heroes such as the wizards guild having the ability to enchant weapons for provided your hero is willing to pay for this service. Later on in the game you can "promote" heroes to advanced classes that can perform powerful feats (such has having clerics resurrect heroes) when you get access to temples. When you do build some structures , you have to chose wisely. You can only chose one temple type per map: the temple of life or the temple of death. The same can almost be said for the elf and dwarf guild, as if you are to build both they dwarves and elves will fight each other if they happen to cross paths.
An interesting aspect of the game is that when you build more of the same type of building, the cost of building another one goes up. So trying to "turtle up" your kingdom in defense towers will prove to be quite expensive, quite fast. There is one big problem with the defense towers as you are not given a visual radius where the tower can defend. You just have to do some trial and error and get an idea where the tower can pelt incoming enemies with arrows. The only thing that comes close to a visual indicator is that when you build a tower, it comes with a guard that patrols around the tower. You're going to be tempted (and pretty much have to) build plenty of towers as there are plenty monster spawn points throughout the map, some that cannot be destroyed such as the sewer entrances (that pop up randomly as your kingdom grows) and your grave yard which is used to resurrect dead heroes (for a price of course). So while your heroes are out destroying crypts, bear dens and other monster spawn points that pose a threat to your kingdom, you're just going to set up towers and a around these indestructible spawn points. This and not being able to manage parties you establish via the Inn is very frustrating. If there is a way to disband a party, I haven't found the option to do so. And if you do want to put heroes together in a party, expect to plop down 500 gold for each party. All of this of course is going to get expensive, so how does his majesty afford defense structures, heroes and the wide variety of upgrades?
Gotta fill those coffers, folks!
Seeing how gold is the only resource you have to manage it can obtained in the following ways:
Taxation: The player has no control over tax rates, just the more buildings you have in your kingdom, the more money you will pull in from tax revenue. Even though you reward your heroes with gold, that gold can be brought back into your coffers via a sales taxes that heroes will spend on weapons, armor and a wide variety of potions and other items. Unfortunately you have no control over taxation rates.
Merchant Caravans: There are areas on the map indicated by a donkey that allows you to setup a trading post. Caravans will make their way to your marketplace every so often with a load of gold. Of course if the caravan us un-guarded and if you don't want dire bears, and the undead impeding your flow of gold, you're going to have to protect the caravan and the trading post with defend flags.
Slaying monsters: Most monsters carry a small sum of gold on them. Once slain, the money is awarded to the hero (or party) that killed the monster. Of course, this money is used by heroes on items and services that are taxed.
Game play Modes
There's a campaign mode where you get to play through 16 levels, multiplayer with up to four other players and 6 single player missions where you have to accomplish a particular objective (like obtaining a certain sum ofmoney) to win the mission.
Too hard, too fast.
One of the biggest draw backs to Majesty 2, it starts off fairly easy. But as you progress through the 16 levels in the single player campaign mode it gets tediously hard. Case in point is the dragon level. Not even 30 seconds when you start the level, a grand dragon periodically makes "fly by" attacks on your kingdom destroying structures and heroes along with a small army of baby dragons. As your heroes level up and your kingdom expands, more and more indestructible sewer entrances will spawn in the city, along with tougher monsters . So eventually you're dropping flags furiously to defend structures and having to delete other flags on the map to get heroes to defend your kingdom. This is mind-numbingly frustrating as when you delete a flag when you've put gold into it, you do not see this money back. A lot of the maps main objective is to slay an epic beast, so when you dump untold thousands of gold into the flag to attack an ogre per say, your heroes will abandon defense and other flags to attack a monster that resembles a World of Warcraft raid due to the sheer number of heroes attacking the monster at once.
Making fun of its self.
The humor probably isn't this reviewers style as it comes off painfully campy at timwe. The elves actually sound like chipmunks (I mean, they're elves, they have to sound diminutive even though they're as tall as humans, right?)and the tax collector constantly saying "More gold your majesty!" in the most flamboyantly way possible. This kind of humor can be funny in parts but it's way over done. The voice acting over all isn't the best but did the royal adviser have to sound like someone trying to impersonate Sean Connery? The music is of your typical fantasy fare complete with plenty of string instruments, pan flutes and epic battle music . Visually speaking the models are fantastic and the attention to detail to them is superb. When you go to zoom in, you'd expect a low level of detail due the fact you're spending most of your time zoomed out overlooking your kingdom.