First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.
Microsoft Game Studios Kingdom Under Fire: Circle Of Doom
- Supports up to four players for cooperative play over Xbox Live
- The combat is bland, the character development options are shallow and the story is lacking
No matter how you slice it, Circle of Doom just doesn't have any appeal.
Price$ 99.95 (AUD)
Buy now (Selling at 14 stores)
Those dark shadows you see on the ground are vultures circling high above the Kingdom Under Fire series. The hollow carcass of a role-playing game is all you'll find in the latest instalment, Circle of Doom, which is dead on arrival due to some crippling flaws. Underwhelming action and shallow role-playing mechanics send this aptly titled game spiralling toward ruin.
Circle of Doom never provides a cogent explanation of exactly what is going on, choosing instead to thrust you into a confusing fantasy world without even giving you a clear objective. It's entirely possible to play through the game without ever forwarding the plot, which is a bad sign all around. With no narrative backbone, the game devolves into a lame hack-and-slash affair where you just button-mash enemies to death.
But boring combat is just one half of the misery pie that this game serves up, with half-baked role-playing elements comprising the rest. There is a great deal of equipment to customise your character with, but oddly, that same depth is missing when it comes to character abilities and attributes. Levelling up grants points for enhancing three core stats: hit points, skill points and luck, which just barely fulfils the minimum as far as character development goes but that's about all you get. Special abilities, such as magic spells and powerful combo attacks, are also present but you have to kill an entire army of enemies just to get access to them.
The lone bright spot comes in the form of four-player cooperative play via Xbox Live, though collectively sharing the disappointment of this game is like tasting a nasty drink then passing it to your buddies to offer them a sip.
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