top of page

Kingdom Under Fire: The Crusaders [Xbox]


Kingdom Under Fire: The Crusaders - Hard Difficulty

To arms! A new Crusade is at hand. After nearly a millennium, another Holy War has begun; this time, on Planet Earth's digital landscape. The reintroduction of such zealous verbiage into the Human lexicon instills palpable enthusiasm. Kingdom Under Fire: The Crusaders offers a grand opportunity to flourish as a warlord.


Here, fearless leaders are needed to protect the land from countless evils. An enemy today may very well become an ally tomorrow in the face of a more diabolic foe. Hatred in a common enemy shall always foster success between fighting factions. Unite the tribes and keep the world of Bersia in the Age of Light, or perish in darkness.


The Challenge? Complete the Hard Difficulty Missions for Ecclesia and Hexter campaigns.


Is this a worthy Challenge? Let's find out.


Kingdom Under Fire: The Crusaders - Hard Difficulty
 

Gameplay


Stalwart. This forgotten word best describes the heroism demanded of the medieval military commanders of Kingdom Under Fire: The Crusaders. To achieve honor and reputation on the battlefield, Hard Difficulty must be unlocked. Specifically, Lucretia of the Dark Elf Vellond army is defined as Normal Difficulty and must be completed to unlock General Kendal of Ecclesia and Lord Regnier of Hexter. The Vellond Missions are ordinary battles to prepare young, untested warriors for the true war to come.


The leaders of this Crusade have their own minds, tactics, and troops to direct. In this fantasy setting, Lord Rigor considers Himself to be a trusted advisor to Lord Regnier and General Kendal. Early in His army's troop development, new officers were recruited. For Ecclesia, the bothersome Thomas and Duane were immediately replaced by the more reputable officers, Edward, and Harold. Such are the decisive military actions of Lord Rigor, advisor of Generals.



In great contrast, for the Hexter army, Urukubarr was instead promoted to lead the Swamp Mammoth; a gargantuan creature that instills fear into the hearts of Humans. In Urukubarr's stead, a fire-wielding Lich named Ghuluth that was recruited from the local watering hole of undead soldiers.


The only default officer that remained was Leinhart, the most loyal officer a commander could ask for. Leinhart consistently provided expert counsel, foresight, and Human-eating bats. The Dark Legion is grateful for such deadly Vampyric offerings.



To survive the massive battles in Kingdom Under Fire: The Crusaders, Lord Rigor relied on His proven military strategy of victory through sheer numbers. Similar to cloning hundreds of Soviet Union conscript solders in Red Alert 2, the more boots on the ground, the better. For both the Ecclesia and Hexter campaigns, using two infantry troops on each Mission was Lord Rigor's objective.


Although a number of Missions required niche troops such as Spearman or Axeman for Calvary counter-attacks, Lord Rigor was generally able to achieve this numeric goal. In one proud example, for the final Mission of the Hexter campaign, He managed to send three battle-hardened Orc Heavy Infantry troops into combat. The Mission was Difficult but nevertheless ensured while accompanied by Calvary Archers, Urukubarr's Swamp Mammoth and the legendary Bone Dragon.


Kingdom Under Fire: The Crusaders - Hard Difficulty

As every experienced military leader knows, any significant army must be watered, fed and healed. The Ecclesians have an advantage in this regard because the infantry troops can cast the ranged healing spell Curatio. Moreover, General Kendal's troop has the ability to cast two magic spells compared to standard infantry troops. During the inevitable fog of war, having the ability to heal mid-combat whilst conjuring Blizzards provided the much needed breathing room to maintain control on the battlefield.


Hexter troops heal much differently yet are equally as effective. Orcs can cast Enrage to increase individual health but utilizing a Dark Elf troop's healing ability is essential. In particular, being able to cast Tree of Healing from a Calvary Archer's horseback is profoundly advantageous. By comparing Ecclesian and Hexter healing capabilities, an important aspect of Kingdom Under Fire: The Crusaders is realized: balance.


Whether casting Curatio as a Human or Tree of Healing as a Dark Elf, each method has a unique utilization strategy. Balanced combat systems are an essential component of ensuring Hard Difficulties are fair and worthwhile, which Blueside overwhelmingly achieved.


Kingdom Under Fire: The Crusaders - Hard Difficulty


Original Xbox Live

Deathmatches (Deprecated)


During the first decade of the second millennium AD, medieval soldiers waged fierce digital wars on the global computer network. Noteworthy, Blueside development still operates the Uniform Resource Locator for Kingdom Under Fire: The Crusaders which outlines this ancient battlefield framework as the following:


2-player deathmatch and ladder ranking.


Unlike the single play game, you will have free selection among 4 hero characters and also be granted with 1000 experience points to customize / level up your troops before starting a match for the first time. Gold and Experience points resulting from each match can be used to develop one’s army and prepare for the next session.


Optimatch option will enable everyone to enjoy a match against another player of similar skills.


Kingdom Under Fire: The Crusaders - Hard Difficulty

Everything fades, including once highly contested ladder rankings. Neither books nor network resources can withstand the ultimate test of time. All that remains of past glorious successes and honorable defeats are the memories emblazoned in the minds of old warriors...


Perhaps Kingdom Under Fire: The Crusaders may be added to the growing catalog of supported video games on XLink Kai or Insignia. Nevertheless, there are a few notable Eccelsia and Hexter Missions that are reminiscent to the more open-form deathmatches on the Original Xbox Live. Two Hard Difficulty Missions are highlighted herein that most accurately reflects those bygone times.



Hexter Campaign Highlight

Mission VI: Brimstone Forest


There is satisfaction in utilizing all available troops that are aligned to one's own unique military strategy. In the campaigns, too often does the player have to change a troop's job class to accommodate Mission requirements. For example, being forced to change Wyverns to Axemen because both share the Frontal skill set needed to combat Calvary troops. Instead, on Mission VI, the player is provided the freedom to prowl within the Brimstone Forest with troops of choice.


Kingdom Under Fire: The Crusaders - Hard Difficulty

Human Paladins considered themselves safe in the treeline but the onslaught of two Heavy Orc Infantry units swiftly pummeled them into the dirt. Both Human and Dark Legion troops alike hurled flaming Meteors at one another throughout the battle. Although Vrark's Wyverns and Rothaal's Calvary Archers aren't effective in forests, any Humans that fled the woods were soon torn to shreds in the open fields.


Despite the rising smoke and increasing cries of men, enemy troop leaders upon horseback were clearly identifiable. Even 1,000 pound horses became airborne with a thrust from Lord Regnier's infamous claymore. Leaderless, the Humans surrendered but none were granted mercy.


Kingdom Under Fire: The Crusaders - Hard Difficulty

Nearly all types of Human troops were encountered on Mission VI. Despite being reinforced by Catapults, Mortars, and Battaloons, the Dark Legion sent each equally to their feeble God for judgement.


The enemy appeared in three sporadic waves which emphasized the importance for the troops to remain close together throughout the Mission. With discipline and courage, the Mission was accomplished.




Ecclesia Campaign Highlight

Mission VIII: Bronzewood I


The Knight's broadswords are sharpened.

The Ballista's skeins are tightly coiled.

The Storm Rider's bellies need feeding.


Death is guaranteed for the Dark Legion.


Kingdom Under Fire: The Crusaders - Hard Difficulty

Mission VIII is a true deathmatch. The player is accompanied by eleven, independent, blue allied units including Infantry, Archers, and Mortars. With an extensive amount of allied and enemy units spread across the battlefield, a choice must be made for where General Kendal's troops should first attack. Straight east, a Swamp Mammoth loomed in the distance and was chosen to be immediately pierced by Tyrone's Ballista. The troops marched towards the poisonous corpse to take control of the center of the battlefield.


High above, united as an aerial force, Lance and Garbrand's Storm Riders distracted a hoard of deadly Wyverns that attempted to slow the Knight's progress. All allied and enemy forces quickly engaged in a series of separate battles across the frozen landscape. Like a trident, the Ballista moved into a position that could spear enemies along its circumferential range without additional movement between attacks.


Kingdom Under Fire: The Crusaders - Hard Difficulty

This increased level of support empowered the Knights to make calculated retreats and attempt to heal allied troops with Curatio. Many lives were saved but an enemy archer troop conjured a Blizzard that slowed Otto's rescue efforts. Regrettably, blue allies engaged in the northwest were slaughtered at the hands of Orc Infantry and Axemen.


Furious, General Kendal regrouped all Knights and Storm Riders into a mighty, unmatched battalion that turned the ice underfoot into an acrid red slush.




Hard Difficulty


The Challenge of Kingdom Under Fire: The Crusaders can be measured in two segments: battles that occurred before or after the coming of the Age of Darkness. Prior to the cataclysmic events in the snowfields of Norwart (Mission VIII for Hexter and Mission X for Eccelsia), the methods of war was as it had been for centuries of Crusades. From the Human perspective, vanquishing the Dark Legion had always been God's Divine Will. From the Dark Legion perspective, the Humans had always been an obstacle to overcome to rule the continent of Bersia.


Alas, history would not repeat itself this Crusade.


The naïve God-fearing Humans awoke an incomprehensible evil that not even Lord Regnier could avert: Encablossa, demons from the Dark Dimension. Consuming both Human and Orc flesh alike, these abominable creatures feast upon the living during the shadows of night.


Kingdom Under Fire: The Crusaders - Hard Difficulty

With the introduction of this new enemy, military tactics drastically change in Kingdom Under Fire: The Crusaders. No longer must the player consider how best to combat troop types such as Ecclesia's air-capable Ballistas or Hexter's menacingly swift Ghouls. Against Encablossa, Hard Difficulty is different but not necessarily more Difficult. For example, there are about two dozen different troop job classes between Ecclesia and Hexter. In contrast, there are only three Encablossa types consisting of infantry, ranged and flying units.


With less enemy job types to consider comes less strategy. However, Hard Difficulty remains Hard because of the unfathomable amount of Encablossa spawns. Every Mission becomes a matter of survival against overwhelming odds. To Lord Rigor's satisfaction, His early investment in infantry troops proved worthwhile when attempting to match Encablossa's increased numbers.


Soldiers of heaven, unite!


Kingdom Under Fire: The Crusaders - Hard Difficulty

Prior to the emergence of Encablossa, wartime funds were relatively limited making it natural to primarily only purchase weapons instead of armor. With enough strategic intellect, armor wasn't fully necessary against typical Ecclesia or Dark Legion enemies. Encablossa demands otherwise.


In turn, it is important to understand how best to protect troops from the oncoming swarm. Specifically, resistance against Ranged and Frontal attacks aren't worth further investment because Encablossa only delivers Melee and Explosive skills. Magic resistance is still worthwhile in which Lord Rigor encountered devastating Fire and Blizzard spells from Encablossa Spitter troops. Regnier's armor instilled the essential Iron Will to survive.


Kingdom Under Fire: The Crusaders - Hard Difficulty

Unfortunately, a few Missions are nearly impossible to complete upon first attempt and require Trial-and-Error. These Missions generally include directing troops from one side of the map to the other while wading through floods of Encablossa waves. Most notably, Lord Rigor suffered His only troop loss on Mission XII, Jungsburg, of the Ecclesia campaign.


The ghastly Encablossa lurked in the twilight and, whilst in flight to Jungsburg Castle, Otho's Knights and Lance's Heavy Calvary fell victim as the sun set over their mutilated bodies.


Their noble sacrifice allowed General Kendal to escape into the sheltering arms of the Dark Legion. Death does have consequences, albeit none so great as Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance in which death is permanent. In Kingdom Under Fire: The Crusaders, troops that perished in battle are not rewarded any EXP upon Mission completion.


Regrettably, on certain later-campaign Missions, Blue Side programmed Encablossa to be unlimited; an abhorrent decision that compromises Hard Difficulty's fairness. The most egregious example is Mission X, Gremium, of the Hexter campaign. To summon the Bone Dragon and destroy Encablossa, eleven Dragon Tombs must be found in the snow packed far north. Lord Rigor rarely describes a Challenging event as impossible...


Kingdom Under Fire: The Crusaders - Hard Difficulty

Yet, Lord Rigor can say with confidence that this Mission is impossible without an anti-infantry Calvary troop. Leading up to this unworthy Mission, Lord Rigor had only utilized Dark Elf Calvary Archers for the sake of mobile healing. Unlimited waves of Encablossa forced Him to convert his Wyvern troop into Orc Axe Riders in order to find the Dragon Tombs that were interspersed across the map. Whilst simultaneously exploring, the infantry troops held the enemies at bay for nearly two hours. Prolonging the struggle, the riders had to frequently return to the main battle and help provide supplemental SP to fuel consistent Tree of Life healing.

Equally fueled as an enraged berserker, Lord Regnier's blazing sword of fire, Keither's Spatha, incinerated all enemies into piles of blood and ash:


Kingdom Under Fire: The Crusaders - Hard Difficulty

On Mission X, Gremium, a combined total of 3,872 Encablossa devils were decimated. For better or worse, spoils from extended battles such as this limit EXP to only 7000. Gold, however, is not restricted which allowed Lord Rigor to subsequently bestow His troops with the finest weapons and armors from across the continent. Indeed, this was the least the Dark Legion troops deserved after displaying such incredible bravery on the battlefield.


Kingdom Under Fire: The Crusaders - Hard Difficulty


Mini Games


Upon completing the Hard Difficulty Missions for Ecclesia and Hexter campaigns, two superfluous arcade-style games are unlocked. As it would seem, only warlords of the highest order may partake in the rescue efforts at Risky Raiders and the killing contests at the County Carnival...



Despite the juxtaposition between the strategic main story line and these button-mashing mini games, the ground perspective from the battlefield is a unique experience. On one gauntlet, a Human bowman laying complete waste to the Dark Legion. On the other gauntlet, an angelic Wyvern saving Orcs from said massacre.


Praise be to the bowman who can dethrone "PJS" from the default leaderboard. For, even Lord Rigor could barely score a third of that immortal's achievement.



Conclusion


Is this a worthy Challenge? Yes.


By God's Divine Will, the Age of Darkness has been halted. Orcs, Elves, Dwarves and Humans alike persevered through Hard Difficulty to defeat Encablossa and may now bask in the Age of Light. The Holy Crusade has come to an end and, with it, a new history.


This path was Challenging yet profoundly rewarding. A testament to the balance achieved in Kingdom Under Fire: The Crusaders, Lord Rigor's infantry-focused decisions were just one of many ways to succeed. Despite a few unfair instances of unlimited Encablossa swarms, there is incentive to persist and lead the troops to victory.


With the Dark Dimension closed and the common enemy defeated, what will become of the races of Bersia? Reversion to past violence, likely; especially where Humans are involved. Peace will surely pass and a call of arms for a new Crusade shall arise. And, with it, another opportunity to achieve Personal Gratification through an unrivaled military leadership experience.

Comments


Logo_Trans.png
bottom of page