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Kingdom Under Fire: Heroes set alight in new screens

Phantagram's epic RTS/beat-'em-up hybrid makes a new advance on the Xbox frontline

In our humble opinion Kingdom Under Fire: The Crusaders was one of last year's great sleeper Xbox titles. If you didn't get the opportunity to check it out, you should. It's a cracking combination of Dynasty Warriors hack-and-slashing and Full Spectrum Warrior-style strategy goodness.

Happily, the two parts came together very nicely. The troop commands were simple but effective and the combat was vicious, satisfying and intense. Xbox Live online play also helped sweeten the pie, and the whole kit and caboodle was set in the kind of fantasy world only a Korean developer could create: Equal parts medieval imagery, thrash metal soundtrack and sexy fairies of death wearing thongs.

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Which brings us to Kingdom Under Fire: Heroes, the Xbox sequel scheduled for release later this year in the UK through Koch Media. Heroes introduces seven new heroes to the mix (and you'll be able to control your old school favourites in the online mode) as well as a brand new campaign with over 50 missions and, apparently, 30-50 hours of gametime.

The action-RTS gameplay will remain largely unchanged, but new technology means you'll see up to 200 characters on screen at once, each one made out of, like, loads of polygons. There are over 35 types of unit including trolls, dragons and catapults, and you'll earn cash and experience points to power up your troops. We've seen it in action and can confirm that it's about as close to the epic battle scenes of the LOTR movies as you're likely to get before the next-gen consoles turn up.

The online mode has been beefed up like an Oxo Cube too, thanks to full Xbox Live 3.0 support, Spectator Mode, Replay Mode, and co-operative and competitive play in three game modes: 6-Player Troop Battle; 6-Player Hero Battle; and Invasion Mode, where you have to defend a fortress from attack.

Don't sleep on Kingdom Under Fire any longer. Look out for Heroes this autumn.

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