The Legend of the White King
||Age of Empires II (2013): The Forgotten
|Required Modpack (if not included with the download):
||African Kingdoms, Rise of the Rajas
|Number of scenarios:
The Portuguese conquistador Alejo GarcÃa was among the first Europeans who settled in Brazil. While there, he heard tales of a 'White King' who allegedly lived to the west, ruling cities of incomparable riches and splendor. Alejo was fascinated by these rumors and therefore decided to gather men and supplies to attempt a voyage to the land of this mysterious ruler.
This campaign tells the story of his expedition.
+ 5 scenarios
+ Varied gameplay: FF, RPG, stealth missions, B&D
+ Detailed, beautiful Map Design
+ 8 Artificial Intelligence Scripts
+ 900+ Triggers
+ 50+ Custom Sounds
+ Three Difficulty Settings
+ The Legend of the White King is not compatible with the non HD version.
+ The graphics of the scenario selection menu will only be visible in-game, if you have subscribed to the campaign via steam.
+ The campaign works best with the 'Ancient America' Soundtrack, which you can find in the steam workshop.
|Author||Reviews ( All | Comments Only | Reviews Only )|
"The Legend of the White King" is the latest in a series of excellent campaigns released by Bassi, actually released in 2017 capping off an unprecedented year of productivity with arguably his best work yet. This five scenario outing features a mix of gameplay types and follows our Portuguese hero Alejo Garcia and his companions on the search for the fabled White King.
I consider the three possible cornerstones of a good campaign\scenario to be gameplay, beauty, or storytelling. LotWK secures a decisive victory in all three categories resulting in a highly enjoyable game. I would actually start by discussing the effect of a storyline upon the campaign, which sees our heroes on a lengthy trek through jungles, across rivers and scaling mighty mountain ranges. Besides the plot, dialogues or the characters there is another element, which is a sense of progression as the gameplay itself tells part of the story. With each mission you move closer towards a goal which adds meaning to the gameplay and a sense of immersion into the setting. The mapping lends itself a sense of discovery in a way that routine B&D do not, as in those you merely search out your next enemy. This all culminated in...well, I must cut myself short sometime and not reveal too much, aye?
The gameplay itself consists of a fixed force journey interlaced with segments of B&D and areas of puzzle elements. While none of them were particularly revolutionary nor the deepest experiences in their respective genres, they played off each other well to keep things fresh. In particular the B&D mission was one of my favorite individual Bassi scenarios of '17 with its Tool Age style warfare and refreshing mapping. The author even challenged the common critique of castle spam levied against his works by starting the player off with a castle, and this was quite a good thing as it gave the player a solid backbone of support while carefully placed so as not to reduce the enemy AI to impotence. This B&D mission came as a blast of fresh air as opposed to being the 3rd or 4th B&D in a row as in previous campaigns, despite arguably being simpler in nature without sidequests or the like-I wouldn't have minded one more B&D like this appropriately spaced apart in the campaign. The puzzle gameplay is what I lump stealth, boss battles and devious stratagems into;At some point you will outmaneuver vastly superior enemies using these tricks which worked satisfactorily. All in all quite a fun gameplay experience with no weak areas to mention.
A short mention about the effects of beauty;while not often discussed in the playability section, like a great story an incredible atmosphere or map design can certainly have an impact on the enjoyment of a game. Not only did the gameplay unfold upon a spectacular backdrop of mapping prowess, there was good atmosphere provided by the frequent implementation of sound effects, and the sense of exploration the campaign created would not have existed without superb monuments and finely crafted villages to gape at while traveling.
A superbly balanced campaign is on offer here, with a good level of difficulty and varied gameplay challenges for the player to overcome. For me Hard was the only way to go, and the difficulty was appropriate but never overbearing throughout. There is a proper spread of difficulty levels provided, but besides checking that they exist I didn't play the lower settings, although these are much appreciated to provide less experienced players a fun game as well. The campaign put reasonable obstacles in the path to victory and never made these too easy to overcome, yet I never found myself banging my head against the wall in frustration.
Challenges posed during the FF missions test the players knowledge of unit types as well their position tactics. The units in your team have varying strengths and weaknesses, and by using them correctly the fights on Hard were very well balanced. Regular ambushes and flank attacks added some spice to the FF engagements and the inattentive player could well see himself getting hacked to pieces. They are difficult enough to keep veterans paying attention, and to my great shame I even took a loss while replaying for this review. You really need to be patient and not rush in too aggressively.
Puzzles were present, a common source of anxiety and grief for me in top level campaigns. Fortunately everything here was pulled off nicely;the stealth sections didn't overstay their welcome while their mechanics made sense, and the boss battle can be figured out with a bit of clever environmental usage. While these are never particularly complex, they do offer a refreshing twist to the game which is appreciated.
The B&D mission is of particular interest;this was one of my favorite B&D out of the '17 entries. A warfare style very reminiscent of AoE1's Tool Age is on display with the usage of low tech Mesoamerican units such as slingers, and this slightly smaller scale scenario putting the player in a precarious situation with limited resources and low troop counts. Despite possessing a Castle to start off with, to gain resources the player must fight for space aggressively. The heroes in this mission are borderline overpowered for which I am partially to blame for suggesting this as a playtester, but I actually find this makes it more enjoyable as the tough heroes can be relied upon in the front lines;they are not actually overpowered as without a support army they will quickly be overwhelmed. In my opinion this usage of hero units is perfect.
The campaign hits a wide variety of notes which are more than sufficient for the full score here;The gameplay itself is well varied with multiple genre such as B&D, FF, etc present and utilized well. While each individual element is not the deepest and intricate but they come together to form an effective whole. . Note that the campaign when subscribed to on steam has a nice campaign selection screen which cannot appear in the blacksmith version due to bugs in HD. Something I've been impressed by in Bassi works is the attention payed to sound effects at various points on the map;I didn't count them, but it seemed like the most appeared so far of his works. These are subtle, a bit too subtle in the jungle areas, but they really add a sense of life and show the author put in that extra work to breath life into certain areas. The authors choice of music also did well to breath life into the campaign, though still fun when played silently the experience is quite a bit more immersive with the tribal beats playing.
A wide range of tricks made a return, such as volcanoes and flooding. These were pulled off very well, though each had its imperfections that could be resolved to achieve an even higher level of awe. For instance, the volcano should really have a few streams of fire that go in other directions so the player doesn't feel like he is being targeted, while the flooding did leave a few odd dry spots. Do not get me wrong though, these were very effective and much appreciated.
The gameplay itself is well varied with multiple genre such as B&D, FF, etc present and utilized well. Each individual element is not the deepest and intricate but they come together to form an effective whole.
The layout of the maps is what is most noteworthy here for me. Only size Tiny maps were used, which is a great concept that allowed the campaign to be made in under two months, if I recall correctly. Bassi demonstrates a great talent for optimizing limited space with great planning to make the most out of each map, and its all the more remarkable for what an epic journey the player feels like he has taken. I myself have been inspired to start designing on much smaller maps from this example, as its a much more approachable method than selecting the good old Giant size which leads to over-ambitious designers launching into an abyss of feature creep.
Map Design 5+
Wow. How does this guy keep coming back with a jungle map after more jungle maps after yet another jungle map, and somehow they are not repetitive? The tree placement is good, the terrain mixing on point and gaia object placement excellent. The waterways are stunningly vibrant with a combination of well blended water with foliage along the shore. Shallow areas with the dead rice farms and rooted shallows terrain are very appealing. An overgrown bridge was an early highlight, a nice twist on the tired old concept of having a washed out bridge. The Volcano is absolutely spectacular to behold and the bridge rebuilding segment under the waterfall perfectly done.
However, I have to say that despite looking fantastically overgrown and tangled, the jungle mapping is remarkably smooth as the open areas are very well defined with the jungle ending here and grassland there;this was more expected out of the B&D maps of previous campaigns as you simply must provide the player building space and AI units easy passage for pathfinding, but I would have expected the envelope to be pushed here in a FF with a less defined jungle border, as only the player moves units and only a handful at a time anyhow. There is very little choice for movement except straight ahead down a corridor. In the second scenario to the left of the cocoa plantation was an area with many little passageways and bits of separated jungle creating a very nice effect;this scenario also had a few more optional passageways in it which was good to see.
Villages, cities and overall building placement was at an all time height;I had the impression the author was inspired by the recent PTC to up his game in this department. The village joining mission one and two is superb, and had a nice effect upon the player as you actually continue the game from the position you arrived at previously. The Malian building set was in use rather than the typical Aztecs\Mayans set which was truly refreshing to see, and created a nice contrast with those buildings later encountered in the empire of the Incas. Combined building usage was impeccable;the maps were filled with skillful building placement, and its simply enjoyable to skim over the maps looking at them. The villages encountered had a good placement of buildings combined with touches of activity here and there that brought them to life. The empire of the White King was an impressive sight, and a combination of the Mesoamerican set combined with some Asian buildings went over very well. There were some impressive monuments that really added a sense of awe, and the finale reveal at the end of scenario4 managed to feel quite impressive. A tour de force in this department.
Desert mapping was featured in one scenario, which was carried off very well with a blissful minimalism and an effective use of many terrain types, painted in a row that reminded me of a patchwork quilt. This map felt all the more refreshing for having come out of two dense jungle maps, and benefited from that transition nicely. Some of the tree placement on this map was not so ideal, with the palm forest stands not looking particularly inspired, but on the whole a very effective effort.
Mountain ranges featured prominently in the last half of the campaign, transition nicely from arid areas back to jungles into alpine heights. For the small size of the maps, these managed to convey an impressive sense of majesty.
Some trifling critiques would be based on the smallest of imperfections, but there are a few. The walls near the gates in scen1 have gaps through which greenery can be seen. Most inexplicable is the appearance of the sharp edges that come with different water types not mixing smoothy;this is an HD bug as compared to normal AoC, but still. Sometimes because of the high range of the rifleman unit, the player can see low-detail jungle on the periphery;its not something you really look at but its there.
El Dorado;the city of gold dreamed about for centuries. Its certainly an enchanting prospect and the campaign does well with its focus on this goal, as our conquistador heroes plunge themselves into great danger for a chance at finding the city. An interesting twist is that the campaign focuses on the historical Alejo Garcia, a Portuguese explorer who entered the empire of the Incas nearly 10 years before the better known Francisco Pizarro arrived. Thus the campaign delivers some interesting historical content in addition to its partly fictional story about events that are not fully known.
Our hero soon forms a band of conquistadors, and the player experiences a solid storyline with plenty of dialogue with a fairly satisfying ending. The characters have their backstory and the dialogue itself is of a good quality. The gameplay is driven by their motivations and needs and thus the players actions are enriched with purpose.
If there was a knock on the story, and an unfair one at that, is that this is no Ulio. The characterization only goes deep enough to establish the heroes, but not enough to make more than one or two stick in your mind. The writing quality is more along the lines of utilitarianism rather than sweeping, beautiful prose which causes the reader to swoon. However, its more than sufficient for the 5 and a positive, strong asset of the campaign. Story can be more than just the characters and word usage on screen;in this campaign its the journey, the experience of playing through that forms a memorable experience, even if that overshadows the individual characters depicted. You might not remember their names, but you will remember the damn spearman who dies to slingers(or anything, really), the badass swordsman who gets the most work done, and the awesome rifleman who sometimes gets cornered by a pack of angry elite tribal warriors because you didn't pay enough attention to unit positioning. A memorable, excellent experience all in all.
Simply a superb, well rounded campaign with high production values;its a must download.
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Map Design: 5
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I have only played the first scenario in this campaign yet, "An Adventure Begins". It's unbelievably good! Thank you so much, Bassi, for doing it. Your work is superb!
The map design is beautiful. I have built a few scenarios (for myself to play) and I'm obsessive with building a nice, pleasing terrain. But you have done things I didn't know were possible. And actually I don't know how you did it. The important is, it's a pleasure to watch them.
The dialogues are also good.
I would have given more than 5 for some items, if that was possible.
My 4 for playability is due to the for me impossibility to win the first scenario without saving and going back several times. And I was playing in standard difficulty mode.
And the 4 for instructions is due to the difficulty I had in discovering how to live the settlement, in the beginning.
But that did not detract from the fact that it is certainly one of the very best contributions I have seen to Age of Empires. And in general deserves the top level mark.