Time for some Beta Talk!
The past week I’ve been playing the upcoming Grand Kingdom game from NIS America, and frankly, despite the issues the game has, it looks promising! However please do bear in mind this is a Beta game at the minute, so the issues I raise here will hopefully be fixed either at launch or not long after.
The beta is heavily restricted sadly, so I can’t really go into the finer details of certain things, such as classes and how the town works and stuff. Sadly for those you’ll have to wait for the full review.
There’s a total of 17 classes to choose from altogether when you build your squad, however the beta only has the four basic: fighter, medic, hunter and mage. These guys act as you’d expect them to, so the beta is pretty pedestrian. There’s a couple of classes that are currently locked that look like a hell of a lot of fun to play.
So, lets talk graphics, which are actually pretty darn good. While they’re typically anime tropes, I found I actually liked the art designs of the characters. Back drops were pretty nice to, and would have looked even better if they were smooth (more on that in a bit).
The combat animations are pretty sweet, with some nice effects making for exciting combat. Which I have to admit I was expecting, given the type of game this is flashy combat is needed.
Tying into the graphics a bit, lets talk character creator, and how lame it is at the minute. I’m hoping that this is like the rest of the game and just restricted due to the beta, otherwise this will be a huge negative point IMO. So when you hire a new mercy you get to customise them a little, and I do mean a little. If the base is a female avatar, that’s what you’re stuck with. For example you can’t make a male medic or mage, or a female hunter or fighter. This is a huge let down, and needs to be sorted.
Other than that you get the choice of a few hair styles, faces, and clothing colours. The voices you can choose from are a bit ‘meh’ but you can have a bit of fun. For example I made a fighter, gave him the square jaw face and messy hair, then gave him a high pitched girls voice; which led to some comical moments.
Overall the creator, as it stands, is pretty thin. I hope they expand it in the full release.
Combat is odd, for me at least. TBH this is the first time I’ve played a game with this
particular combat system. On the one hand, while on the overworld map it’s turn based, as you bounce around finding loot and picking up resources. Once the combat actually starts you end up in an agility (I assume) based time line, where those that are faster get to act first.
You’re spread over three lines, depending on you’re formation, the standard set up is mage/hunter on the top line and medic/fighter on the bottom. You’re move is based on on your movement bar and decreases as you move. Skills are activated by button mashing and take from you’re action bar, which regenerates over time.
The combat does take some getting used and it has some damn annoying issues, but I honestly find it satisfying and addictive. I just wish there was more to the game than the 2 battles a day I’ve got at the minute! Damn why isn’t this out yet!!
Anyway, as is said the combat has it’s issues, one issue could be tied to the performance issues the game has, an other is the tool tips lie! Finally we have the cheating AI.
So, performance issues, the game runs like arse. Scenery jerks all over the place like someone is hitting pause/play repeatedly. Some time’s it’s really bad and other times, for some odd reason, it’s fine. For example I ran through the opening bit 3 times and on 2 of those it was jerking all over, but on one it was near perfectly smooth. To me that says there’s some serious performance issues, but I wouldn’t really care so much if not for two things. Firstly it effects the foreground scenery of the battles, which makes it annoying, hard to focus on a battle when the grass infront of you looks like it’s teleporting.
Secondly it affects the combat in two ways, one for definite and another, possibly. Firstly, it seems to have an affect on the targeting of abilities. Since these require you to line up a reticle that moves in a line over your enemy, and press a button in time to get the best hit. However I’ve noticed misses that shouldn’t miss, and in a few occasions even complete misses despite the target being in the target zone.
What this means is you have to stop relying on the tooltip of the skill telling you a target is in the zone, and move further up so as to guarantee they are. However even if the reticle says it’s a perfect hit and you press the button in time, it’s sometimes registering as a miss, probably due to a FPS drop or something. Again you can adapt and compensate for this, but you shouldn’t have to.
Finally when you kill a guy and send them flying they seem to jerk through the air, as if some hidden person is once again hitting the pause/play button.
Next we have the lying tooltip, this is especially true if you use the medic (in the beta) and have a skill such as acid throw. The tooltip tells me I can throw it over the fighter in front of me and hit the enemy behind. So I throw, and get one of three results. It succeeds and hits the intended target, it succeeds but hits both the intended target and my fighter. It fails and hits my fighter. But there was no indication as to why I got that result.
Now if it was a luck/skill based thing where it’s a chance of failure I’d be fine with it. However at no time when using these skills, even in the tutorial (as far as I saw) did it say this was skill/luck based.
Finally we have the cheating AI, and by this I mean it never misses. It’s got laser guided targeting and will always hit your guys perfectly for maximum damage, and seems to get critical hits way to frequently for my liking.
Thankfully, as this is the beta there’s still time for the majority of these issues to be fixed. Not sure about the performance issues though, and I do wonder how the Vita will handle the game, given how the PS4 is apparently struggling.
Finally lets talk about the multiplayer. When I first saw this I had a certain image in mind. You (and others) would sign up for one of the factions and then battle against each other in battles, like those in the quests. Honestly that sounded awesome to me, and after finding the cheating AI, I felt it was a good way to resolve that.
Sadly it doesn’t seem to be that way. Now, it could just be
that since this was the press beta
and not many people are playing you got put up against the AI, which would make me very happy. However in all the matches I fought, all were against the AI. So it looks like the game is still going to be played against the AI, which cheats, and the results collated and added to a sort of ‘leaderboard’ with the results effecting which country wins, and so on, a virtual Tug-of-War.
Now, while that’s not a bad method of gameplay, it’s not really multiplayer, honestly I wouldn’t even consider that to be COOP. To me that’s nothing more than online leaderboards with a ingame consequence.
As I said though, this is the beta, and I do hope that the multiplayer does end up as I imagined it.
The big question now though is: Do you buy or not?
Tough question to answer really, but if you’re already considering it that chances are you’re already signed up for the public beta. So that would be the best way to gauge what you think of the game.
For me personally, I’m actually excited for the game. Even if it doesn’t live unto my expectations in the multiplayer, it’s still a very fun game. I find myself wanting to play more of the game and regretting I’m only allowed two online battles a day. So I for one have already preordered a copy from Amazon!
June is going to be awesome, with several amazing games including this one launching!! Look forward to it!