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Kingdom Under Fire: Circle of Doom

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Kingdom Under Fire: Circle of Doom is an Action RPG video game developed by Blueside and published by Microsoft Game Studios exclusively for the Xbox 360. It is the fourth installment in the Kingdom Under Fire series and the first released for the seventh generation of consoles. Chronologically the game's story follows Kingdom Under Fire: The Crusaders released in 2004 and its prequel Kingdom Under Fire: Heroes released in 2005. It was first released in Australia on December 5, 2007, followed by Japan on December 13, 2007 then later in North America on January 8, 2008 and in Europe on February 1, 2008.

Unlike the previous Kingdom Under Fire games in the series, Circle of Doom's gameplay is significantly different, with the real-time strategy elements completely absent, with much of the gameplay focus being on the role-playing and hack and slash combat aspect.

Premise

The story begins when Nibel The Lord of Light made a pact with Encablossa Lord of Darkness, the pact being that each lord will rule his age and the other will wait until the other finish his rule. But eons pass and Nibel grows weary of seeing his creatures becoming monsters and being tortured so when the Age of Light was about to end Nibel didn't give his rule to Encablossa. Encablossa was angry so he gathered his Dark Legion and attacked the world, many ages pass but in Crusaders, Walter's soldiers destroyed the ancient heart (a powerful relic and the center of the conflict in Kingdom Under Fire) and Encablossa appeared in the form of a great demon, but he is defeated By Kendal and Regnier's forces but the heroes then become trapped in Encablossa's Dimension as old heroes. In Regnier's campaign it is explained that the dark dimension is about to explode with the resulting blast poised to consume both dimensions.

Gameplay

Unlike the previous instalments in the Kingdom Under Fire series, Circle of Doom is entirely a hack and slash role-play, much is the vein of dungeon crawlers and focuses entirely on the player’s chosen character out of five (sixth can be unlocked), thus lacking the real-time strategy formula of the previous games. Given the single character focus, much of the gameplay revolves around close quarter combat with multiple AI controlled opponents throughout each level. As the player progresses with each kill, they gain experience that eventually leads to gaining a level, the maximum being level 120. Each time the player levels up they receive a given number of experience points to boost their overall health, skill points and luck.[1] Higher-level players will also be able to wield better weapons and armour and allow more options for magic use. Levels are also generated at random, with differing paths and amount of foes between each (while foes are still confined to certain areas) and destructible environments with the use of heavier weapons.

While the player has a standard health bar, the skill points forms another (SP bar) that when the player performs an attack or uses magic, their SP becomes depleted and recovers when nothing is performed, so the player will be unable to attack if there isn’t enough SP at that moment of use.[2] The more SP and the faster rate it can recover allow longer chains of attacks. The Luck skill determines the quantity and quality of loot and gold dropped by slain foes.[2] The Luck skill can also help in the game’s "synthesis" system, one which lets players pay gold combine items to improve one, for example combing a powerful weapon with a weaker one will result in its overall attack power being somewhere in between, with enchantments from both also present. Luck improves the chances of a successful synthesis[2] along with a larger investment of gold.

Items can also be bought and sold when the player encounters an Idol in each level that serves as buyers and sellers of various items.[3] There are three different Idols in total; Death, Love and Greed who excel more in certain items than others who appear at certain times of the in game’s "moon phases".[3] The Idol also provides a safe sanctuary where foes cannot enter, thus allowing players to "sleep".[3] When the player sleeps, they appear in the dream world where they interact with other characters who progress the story by providing quests, insight and allowing players to learn new skills,[4] most usually requiring a certain number of particular foes to be killed. Magic and weapons can assigned to 4 commands buttons on the Xbox 360 controller at any given time, X and A buttons for use of weapons/attack and B and the right trigger for use of magic.[5] Potions that can quickly boost health and SP or cure magic affects inflicted by enemies can be applied to the left and right bumper buttons.[5] The player also has Accessory slots where armour and stat increasing jewellery are applied for effect, more being available for purchase from Idols.[5] The game features three difficulty levels; Normal, Hard and Extreme that differ between the strength of foes, but however only Normal can be played to begin with and the other difficulties are unlocked by completing Normal (then Hard for Extreme mode) and are only playable with the character that unlocked them.

Circle of Doom also allows up to four players to play through each level and corresponding boss fights over Xbox Live.[6] This can allow joining players to play through levels they have yet to progress to as long as the host has. Players that receive items and experience online will still reap the benefit for their character offline at the same time, thus allowing players to trade items and complete quests with others but foes toughness increases the more players there are.[6] The Xbox Live headset is also supported for use.

Characters

  • Kendal- A hero who was trapped in Encablossa's body. Now, he is suffering a mutation but he promised Walter that he would bring the light again. General of the Ecclesian Army, Kendal possesses an unusually calm demeanor, even in intense combat situations. He is outwardly passionate about his duty and his faith, but even he houses doubts in his heart.
    • Weapons: Mace, Shield, Hammer, Crossbow, Heavy Crossbow
  • Regnier- The former immortal Lord of Hexter, Regnier lost much of his power, including his immortality, during the events of The Crusaders. Though still mighty in his own right, Regnier is plagued with doubt. He is determined to endure and continue on, as he always has.
    • Weapons: Great sword, Gauntlet, Iron Chain, Hand Cannon, Throwing Blades
  • Celine- An Elven Queen from a time past, driven by her desire to restore her love, Curian.
    • Weapons: Rapier, Dagger, Bow, Throwing Knife, Sling
  • Leinhart- Prince of Vellond, Leinhart has served as Regnier's right hand for many years. His mind is in chaos as his desire for power, his unrequited love for the half-vampire Morene, and his respect for his father struggle for control.
    • Weapons: Dual Katana, Daikatana, Wakizashi, Shuriken, Kusarigama
  • Duane- Formerly Kendal's sub-officer, Duane is a relation of the Ecclesian patriarch. He is motivated by personal desire and has no respect for the beliefs of others.
    • Weapons: Flails, Morning stars, Gun Swords, Pistols, Gatling guns
  • Curian- The King of Azilla, Curian is saved from his mutation by Celine.
    • Weapons: Swords, Halberds, Spears, Wrist bows, Shields
  • Encablossa- The Lord of Darkness who planned on taking revenge on Nible, Lord of Light, for breaking a pact made between the two many years ago to govern the world. He was pushed back into his own dimension by the warriors of Light but is still alive. He plays an unknown but vital role in Regniers storyline.
    • Weapons: None(NPC)

Reception

Reviews
Publication Score
Official Xbox Magazine 8/10[7]
IGN 5.8/10[8]
Game Informer 5.25/10
GameSpy 2.5/5[9]
Eurogamer 5/10[10]
GameSpot 6/10[11]
Play Magazine 8/10[12]
Game Trailers 5.9[13]
UGO C+[14]
Famitsu 27/40[15]

Upon release, Circle of Doom was met with mixed responses, with an average critic score of 56% at Game Rankings based on 46 reviews.[16] Official Xbox Magazine praised the game, enjoying the lack of RTS elements of its predecessors, delivering a more "straight-up combo-heavy hack-and-slash action" that "manages to look lovely while you slap around your foes"[7] while Play Magazine noted the variety in usable items to mix up gameplay, that "you've never had this much fun tinkering with weapons, spells, and items--I guarantee it."[12] Cheat Code Central pointed out that due to the more basic gameplay elements, that more old-school gamers would enjoy it more than others, that "If you're a fan of the tried-and-true action-RPG formula, then this one won't disappoint" but if not then "may not be your cup of mead."[17]

A common criticism was directed at the basic gameplay causing repetition.[8][9][10][11] GameSpot found that while "slicing your way through the hordes is as compelling as you would expect from the genre", being "a proven one", the "action gets incredibly repetitive". They however noted that the online co-op over Xbox Live "can increase the entertainment value significantly".[11] UGO concluded that while "there's entertaining gameplay to be found at the core of Circle of Doom", they felt it was "overwhelmed by too much repetition" and pointed out the massive differences between it and the previous titles in the series that "for any fun there is to be had, it's tough not to wonder what BlueSide was thinking in calling this a Kingdom Under Fire game."[14] GameSpy also felt disappointed over the "minimal amount of direct character customization" and felt the skill points player stat would be the "most annoying aspect of the game for button-mashers".[9]

On the game's story, Game Trailers found it "vague"[13] and IGN felt it was more of a way of providing simple variety in character choice that "you feel a bit like you're playing a separate adventure rather than just a new character" yet found the dialogue "cheesy" and "comical". They did however find the soundtrack to be one of its highest points, being "a reasonably powerful soundtrack that chimes in when moments of action are about to transpire".[8] Eurogamer however thought it was an "insanely inappropriate repetitive metal guitar noodling".[10]

References

  1. BlueSide Inc., ed (2007) (in English). Kingdom Under Fire: Circle of Doom instruction manual (Xbox 360). Microsoft. p. 15. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 BlueSide Inc., ed (2007) (in English). Kingdom Under Fire: Circle of Doom instruction manual (Xbox 360). Microsoft. p. 14. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 BlueSide Inc., ed (2007) (in English). Kingdom Under Fire: Circle of Doom instruction manual (Xbox 360). Microsoft. p. 22. 
  4. BlueSide Inc., ed (2007) (in English). Kingdom Under Fire: Circle of Doom instruction manual (Xbox 360). Microsoft. p. 23. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 BlueSide Inc., ed (2007) (in English). Kingdom Under Fire: Circle of Doom instruction manual (Xbox 360). Microsoft. pp. 16–19. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 BlueSide Inc., ed (2007) (in English). Kingdom Under Fire: Circle of Doom instruction manual (Xbox 360). Microsoft. pp. 26–27. 
  7. 7.0 7.1 Casey Lynch (2008-01-18). OXM Kingdom Under Fire: Circle of Doom Review. Official Xbox Magazine. Retrieved on 2008-07-02.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 Nate Ahearn (2008-01-09). IGN Kingdom Under Fire: Circle of Doom Review. IGN. Retrieved on 2008-07-02.
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 Gerald Villoria (2008-01-10). GameSpy Kingdom Under Fire: Circle of Doom Review. GameSpy. Retrieved on 2008-07-02.
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 Dave McCarthy (2008-02-01). Eurogamer Kingdom Under Fire: Circle of Doom Review. Eurogamer. Retrieved on 2008-07-02.
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 Kevin VanOrd (2008-01-12). GameSpot Kingdom Under Fire: Circle of Doom Review. GameSpot. Retrieved on 2008-07-02.
  12. 12.0 12.1 (in English) Play Magazine Kingdom Under Fire: Circle of Doom Review. Kingdom Under Fire: Circle of Doom. January 2008. pp. 52. 
  13. 13.0 13.1 Game Trailers Kingdom Under Fire: Circle of Doom Review. Game Trailers (2008-01-15). Retrieved on 2008-07-02.
  14. 14.0 14.1 Adam Rosenberg (2008-01-08). UGO Kingdom Under Fire: Circle of Doom Review. UGO. Retrieved on 2008-07-02.
  15. First Lost Odyssey review: Famitsu Xbox 360 9/8/8/8 (and others). N4G. Retrieved on 2008-07-02.
  16. Kingdom Under Fire: Circle of Doom at Game Rankings. Game Rankings. Retrieved on 2008-07-02.
  17. Matt Cabral. Cheat Code Central Kingdom Under Fire: Circle of Doom Review. Cheat Code Central. Retrieved on 2008-07-02.

External links

Preceded by
Kingdom Under Fire: Heroes
Kingdom Under Fire: Circle of Doom
2007
Succeeded by
Kingdom Under Fire II
ja:Kingdom Under Fire : Circle Of Doom

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