One of the best features of KUF: Heroes is the way it eases you in with a gentle learning curve and helpful tutorial missions. Most of the early missions are designed to introduce you to the controls and the basics of general battle strategy, but at the same time Heroes encourages you to kick ass. Whereas The Crusaders went to great pains to explain everything in minute detail, Heroes tends to take the more Ramboesque approach and simply chucks you straight into the action.
There are good points and bad points to this. From a bad perspective, anybody who missed The Crusaders could find Heroes too much to absorb at once. But on the good side, you'll find yourself fighting giant insects and storming enemy fortresses well before you have to worry yourself with the intricacies of laying traps or setting waypoints. Better than The Crusaders, which simply ran out of tutorial missions and dragged you from gentle training scraps to full-scale, oh-my-God, what'shappening-here war.
Talking purely content for a moment, Kingdom Under Fire: Heroes offers single players a hugely meaty game with over 50 missions spread across seven separate campaigns, as well as the ability to set up quick custom matches against any combination of computer-controlled armies you wish. But the real improvement over The Crusaders is Heroes' Live mode, which finally resembles something worthy of the Xbox online crowd. A ceiling of four players may sound paltry for the main deathmatch mode, but when you consider each could be controlling six or seven units apiece that's plenty.
Any problems then? Three we can immediately think of. One: who did the translation work? We understand the game was made in South Korea, so English wouldn't have been the first language for much of the creative staff, but that's no excuse for the drivel that most of the characters spout. Two: the story is way too confusing, with too many characters, endless politics and far too much back story from the first game, and, in all likelihood, enough to put some people off the scrumptious gameplay underneath. And three: we're no longer convinced about all that constant thrash-metal during the fighting. It might have seemed like a good idea in The Crusaders, but now it's just irritating. Next time make it orchestral and make it good or don't even bother.
But worst of all - and bear in mind missions can drag on for an hour in some cases - there's no in-game save. At all. Which is ludicrous, especially given the sheer amount of information you continually need to take in at times. This is a massively tough game on occasion, and to be punished for one wrong decision in the heat of action by having to start all over on a mission seems a trifle harsh.
That said, you can't help be impressed with what Kingdom Under Fire: Heroes has to offer. We're a little disappointed to see that there have been few fundamental changes to the gameplay since The Crusaders (although many gamers will be coming to Heroes afresh), and it's fair to say that even with the improved combat system and slight shift in focus to combat over multiple-unitjuggling, this is still a game that could prove too complex for the casual gamer. But for those of you brave enough to take the plunge, this is one fantasy experience you won't forget in a hurry.
Not really a sequel, Heroes is still an improvement over The Crusaders. Could prove too complex for some though.