The recommendations continue in our Stay at Home section, where the LEVEL UP Editorial Staff reviews a wide variety of titles that in their time offered great experiences. Recently, we shared a glimpse of one of the latest great exponents of the local cooperative, Castle Crashers, and a colossal, life-like installment that was developed by one person, Stardew Valley. This time, I want to go back in time to bring Kingdom Under Fire: The Crusaders, a title for Xbox that debuted in 2004, from the trunk of memories that left a powerful impression on the beardless mind of its humble editor.

But we go in parts. Connoisseurs of the real-time strategy genre may recognize the name Kingdom Under Fire, as it debuted around the end of the golden era of RTS in 2001. Courtesy of South Korean developer Phantagram, Kingdom Under Fire resulted in a title that for its The premiere looked dated and many of its design decisions had been previously explored; it can be said that he was late for the party. However, those who managed to have the pleasure of knowing him, know that he hid great stories and legendary battles in each of his campaigns, where the forces of Light and Darkness fought in a duel without truce.

Despite the fact that the game passed without penalty or glory in the West, in its native region it enjoyed a certain popularity which ensured its return on a new platform and, to the surprise of its followers, under a new format. In 2004 Kingdom Under Fire: The Crusaders came to Xbox and changed the fate of the series, although it was not known yet. This installment is a curious and relaxed combination of elements that are common in other genres, however, the feeling that dominated the experience was that it was a Musou, that is, a game that borrows elements from the Koei Warriors series, specifically , the feeling of being a great warrior who attacks and defeats hundreds of enemies.

When I first played The Crusaders I was surprised by the combination, as I did not expect its execution to be so successful. Controlling armies through a minimap and precisely positioning a line of archers to reduce enemy armies to rubble, turned out to be an activity closely related to other RTS games of the time, for example, Total War; even the original KUF. On the other hand, when the armies were so close that they could see the whites of their eyes, the action became personal, since each army had a commander that you could control in the heat of battle to reduce the bulk of the enemy formations. Sometimes facing another general in a relentless combat.

Visually, The Crusaders shone thanks to a pertinent appropriation of the common elements in the genre of medieval fantasy. For this reason, it is not surprising that within its themes we find the eternal conflict of humanity that fights against the hosts of chaos, such as vampires, orcs and ogres. In fact, The Crusaders handled an extremely attractive graphic design, with a certain inclination towards realism and an inking between green and brown. The result was a blood-filled medieval fantasy world that looked rough and raw. Naturally, I was delighted with the artistic direction of the title, however, it was not the only thing.

What blew my head to pieces was how the elements described above were wrapped up by the last piece of the puzzle: music. In many other fantasy works, it is common to hear orchestral compositions with dozens of instruments that harmonize perfectly to cover the feelings of the work they escort, however, The Crusaders was different and the reason that drove me crazy was because he used heavy metal as an accompaniment in the massacres in the deserts and in the skirmishes in the forests.

“He used heavy metal as an accompaniment in the massacres in the deserts and in the skirmishes in the forests”

In this way, I vividly remember that for me the most was to control the armies and listen to the stunning electric guitars roar with the accelerated cadence of a war drum; I remember how the bass frequencies reverberated endlessly in my cranial cavity and, above all, I loved the feeling of brutality when the technicality of the guitar progressed through the chords at the same time as he brandished a sword and stained it with the blood of dozens of ifieles. . Back then, at my tender 18 years of age, the feeling was indescribable. And for this reason I remember Kingdom Under Fire: The Crusaders very much as a complete audiovisual experience.

Unfortunately, my taste for the game did not last long, since my Xbox console was one of those with a defective disc reader, so it could never play beyond the first campaign. For this reason I don’t know how the game’s story unfolded. However, I was recently overjoyed when I found out that a remastered version of the title would soon be released on PC. The day has arrived and for a few weeks it has been available on GOG for less than $ 8 and on Steam for $ 179.99 MXN.

Heavy Metal sounds intensify

If you liked Kingdom Under Fire: The Crusaders, we invite you to check out our latest recommendations from the #StayInHome initiative below. You can find a more extensive list if you check this page.

Mardokeo Galván – Castle Crashers, a wonderful exponent of an almost extinct genre
Pedro Cesari – Stardew Valley, life on the farm is the best life.
Daniel Laguna – Undertale, a quirky and fun RPG like few others.
Víctor Rosas – BioShock, so close to the nightmare and so far from utopia.
Fernando Salinas – Vanquish, unbridled action in the style of Platinum Games.