Chivalry: Medieval Warfare Review | MOUSE n JOYPAD


Chivalry: Medieval Warfare Review


Chivalry: Medieval Warfare looks about as good as I expected an indie PC port to Xbox 360. The developers focused on maintaining a high resolution, and they didn’t adjust the Field of View of their game to fit televisions. Halo effects pop up around everything when you move. The lines within the training module are unintentionally funny. They are neither particularly well written or performed with strong understanding of circumstance. You can’t say the voice actors lack gusto. The training mode itself was one of the least well executed modes in the game. It doesn’t really seem to care in most instances if you have done what it asks to progress, and the AI opponents in this mode do a fantastic job of avoiding your blows. Much of my time was with trainers was spent chasing them around the arena. That coupled with the wonky joypad controls had me leaving the training mode frustrated. These issues had me worried about Chivalry: Medieval Warfare. Fortunately my experience with the rest of the package was more positive.

If you have played a competitive FPS like Call of Duty or Battlefield you’ll actually be fairly familiar with the trappings surrounding this medieval war game. There are a variety of modes, many of which revolve around some form of deathmatch. There are four classes of warrior each offering a different approach to combat. Archers are light on their feet but extraordinarily fragile, requiring them to stay aware of their surroundings at all times. Knights are slow and well armored, their melee attacks are hard to interrupt and they can take a few hits before going down making them a force to be reckoned with. Vanguards have a long reach and only slightly less armor than knights. Men-at-arms are light on their feet with alright range and strong speed statistics. They are poorly armored, but they can wield shields that, when coupled with good timing, make them as durable as any heavily armored class without sacrificing attack and movement speed.

Maps are spacious, and relatively well designed, but it is severely underpopulated. We are three days into it’s release, and unfortunately, even this early in it’s life it lacks a persistent online player base. The largest game I managed to play involved two other people at any given time. Without a campaign, Chivalry needs a strong player base to keep people playing.  The situation is so poor that it is more fun to play with bots than it is to play within quickmatch. If you were considering picking Chivalry up, I suggest you try to get a few friends on the bandwagon.

The Controls in Chivalry: Medieval Warfare take a bit to get used to. There are three separate attack buttons, each triggering a separate attack of varying speed, damage, and range, and one block. Blocking shortly after initiating an attack causes your character to feint which eats up more stamina, but can cause another player to block early, leaving you with a window of opportunity to attack. While you are doing this, you must be looking directly at your enemy, who may be dodging around. After playing dozens of rounds I’m more used the system, and I can say it is easier to cause damage in multiplayer matches than it is against the training mode AI. Those looking for a more complex competitive online game may find a good match in Chivalry, but I imagine the game controls better with mouse and keyboard.

As good as a lot of the design of the game is, I find it difficult to recommend Chivalry: Medieval Warfare on Xbox 360. The game controls well on PC, and it has a much stronger community on that platform as well. The developers have made a valiant effort to  bring their medieval combat game to the online console platform of yesteryear, but it neither controls well enough or has enough online support to make it worth the while. By all means, play Chivalry, but play it on PC or grab some friends before you decide to play on 360. If you have a desktop with any kind of 3D graphics card purchased in the last five years, you will likely be able to run Chivalry. The incredibly small game population will limit the experience, so go in prepared.

I had fun with Chivalry, more than I thought I might. Given the awkwardness of the control scheme, combat can look and feel more like awkward flailing than deliberate, tactical battling, but it can also be tense and deep when you get two players who really know what they’re doing out in the field. The frantic clashing of a 4-6 players in one battle is exciting, and the thrill of being outnumbered and emerging victorious is great. There are dynamics present in this melee focused game that just aren’t present in first person shooters. Given the limited range of most attacks, it is important to keep players spread out like in a game of soccer (football). While I wasn’t given the opportunity to chat with other players, rudimentary awareness of the game’s tactics were helpful.

Even when combat sometimes devolves into idiotic flailing, there is some fun to be had. Chivalry is a different kind of online combat game, and I can appreciate it for that much, but it fails to deliver controls that comfortably suit a controller. I had fun with it, but I imagine I would have more fun with the PC version. I’m glad the developers of Chivalry: Medieval Warfare made the effort to bring their game to Xbox 360, but I’m not sure it is the go-to online platform it used to be. A few years ago Chivalry may have experienced a stronger population, but many indie competitive multiplayer game have had trouble gaining traction in this environment. Crytek just decided to shut down Warface for 360, and they are a fairly successful big-name publisher. I don’t think it’s the developer’s fault this population problem is so bad, but the experience is hampered nonetheless. Given that I first heard Chivalry was on Xbox 360 when I was told to review it, it could probably use more promotion.