Review: Knights of the Temple: Infernal Crusade
Posted 28 May 2004 at 08:21 by Bas van de Burgh
In case you were wondering if going on a medieval crusade to spill more blood than Uma Thurman in Kill Bill could be boring: it can.
The Fight Club:
Knights of the Temple embroiders on one of videogaming's finest and long-standing traditions that is the hack & slash. From Golden Axe to Return of the King; here at C-E we're not averse to some slaughtering, and a medieval crusade seems to be the perfect setting.
Fighting is this games' core element. The levels are linear, so you're hardly ever wondering where you should go next. Occasionally you'll run into a puzzle, but most of them are an insult to the intelligence. They could as well have been left out, as fighting is the main attraction. And if that's what you like, Knights is a fairly enjoyable title.
It's only 'fairly enjoyable', because the fighting gets dull rather quickly. There are just two basic attacks, though the increasing number of combos makes up for that. Some of these require some very accurate timing, but the results are rewarding. Beside the combos there are some impressive special attacks and divine powers, which are very useful but do drain your stamina and mana meters.
You have the ability to use different weapons, but the differences between the sword, mace and axe are hardly noticeable and don't strategically deepen the fighting. Your fourth weapon is a bow, which can only be used from a first person viewpoint. Unlike the Lord of the Rings games, it's only useful when opponents are far away or on an inaccessible ledge. Much like the Tolkien-inspired games, enemy attacks can be blocked. The B-button does its job a little too well, though. Just hold it down and nearly all attacks from any direction will be repelled. It's comfortable, but less simplified fighting might have been more rewarding in the end. Defense is after all an integral element of a fight.
Most of the time there are only a couple of enemies to fight, and there is little difference in their attacks. In addition to the above criticism and to the fact that the different environments don't require a change of fighting style, the combat gets monotonous, even though the pace of the game is high.
The main incentives to keep playing are your curiosity about new moves and the developments in the mildly interesting story. There are few other attractions to keep your attention. The environments do have a medieval atmosphere, but are not a treat to the eye, neither graphically or esthetically. Though the game promotes the music of the Dutch gothic-rock band Within Temptation, their music doesn't really appear in the game. The tunes do add to the gloomy ambience.
The game has a distinct style. The low quality cutscenes are interesting and parts of the story are told accompanied by pictures. The game's look reminds of Eternal Darkness, mainly because of its close zoom on the protagonist and fluid movement. Not all moves got the 'motion capture' treatment though, resulting in some rather silly animation while descending stairs. Less forgivable are the bugs that trouble even the tested retail version. During playing enemies carrying keys got stuck in a wall or the game froze while trying to free an opponent from a doorpost.
The game uses fixed camera points which most of the time let you see what you want to see and in the process offer some pleasing viewpoints as well. Indoors the camera can be quite confusing. It can be slightly adjusted, but panning or tilting the camera also seems to deform the environment a bit like in the early first person shooters that allowed to look up and down, like Duke Nukem 3D. The controls are without problems. Difficulty and length are both well tuned, too. The repetitive fighting doesn't invite for another play, though.
Knights of the Temple concentrates on fighting. Unfortunately, the combat is not well balanced. Simplified defending, similar weapons, monotonous enemies and environments result in repetitive fighting, no matter how beautiful the characters move. The special moves and combos are the only factors that provide some variation, but not enough to lift the game above the average. The dark medieval atmosphere and fitting storyline make this a fair choice, but only for fans of the genre.
N-Europe Final Verdict
Decent hack & slash, just gets dull too soon.
Combat gets tedious