Jeffrey Markiewicz On February 8, 2008 at 8:07 am

This is the third iteration of the Kingdom Under Fire (KUF) series and the most different out of the bunch. The series started out as a Dynasty Warriors mixed with real-time strategy and has now evolved into an action role-playing game. This game is a pure classic hack-and-slash dungeon-crawler that will give you carpel tunnel and boredom at the same time but with these two negatives, you have at least one positive.

The official website lists “innovative story delivery.” That must be code for use your imagination because there is so little story in this game. You can access 99% of the story just by virtue of watching the opening cutscene and reading a prologue that gives you a broad context of what is going on in the world. That is basically it except for a unique story side quest for each character. Since the developer has omitted the background story on the characters or whom you’re fighting, which is presumably in the previous games, you’ll have a hard time piecing together what is going on or even what’s going on in the story side quest. Since you will be sinking about 10 to 15 hours into the single player, the lack of story really starts to get to you.

Depending on your perspective, this story-less game might not be too bad. The way the game is setup, it is like a subscription-less Phantasy Star Online, where you can play with up to 3 of your friends over xbox live. Unfortunately there is no cities or lobbies where you can find and talk to hundreds of people, but for free, what do you expect? If you play through the single player on normal, you can reach about level 40 but you can go all the way up to level 120 and combined with the fact you have 6 different characters you can play, you could potentially have over 100 hours of gameplay. The characters are your generic fare that covers the spectrum from weak and fast to strong and slow. As you level up you upgrade three different statistics, health, stamina, and luck. The weapons and armor are unique to each character and add a little to the replayability, but ultimately suffers due to the type of gameplay the game employs and due to the fact they all operate basically the same.

KUF: Circle of Doom is a game where you will be pressing one button more times than you can count, and when that is over, you will repeat it. Of course there is a little variation in this repetitive action for when you administer a health potion or decide you want to shoot the enemies with your arm cannon or bow and arrow, but ultimately you will always return to your faithful action button over and over. It must be said though; there is nothing wrong with this kind of gameplay as long as you vary it up with different moves or animations, but you will not find that here. At least at various parts of the levels will be broken up by statues that you can purchase, sell, or synthesize items from or fall asleep if you want to get spells. You can synthesize items by combining items together to make better and better items. The synthesizing system is actually overpowered once you understand how it works, especially for a game that is fairly easy. To increase replayability, the game includes randomly generating levels. This sounds like a cool feature and if they pulled it off it would have been awesome. The levels eventually become confusing on where to go and since the geometry repeats itself to the automatic generation, it just piles onto the confusion. Sometimes on the levels, items will be dropped on the wall, inaccessible to you, which is annoying, but not game breaking. There are a couple bugs in the game but, like this, they are all minor.

The graphics are below average. Even though the game pushes a significant amount of characters on screen, it could have looked a lot better. The animations are also subpar, there are times where you will hit a group of enemies where they will all do the same animation and completely pull you out of the game. The levels are boring and lifeless. This isn’t the worst looking game on Xbox 360, but it’s definitely not the best.

The sound in this game is a bare minimum. Generic sound effects abound in this title. There is barely any music either. In a nutshell, the sound in the game is nothing special but gets the job done.

Kingdom Under Fire essentially failed in genre jumping into the action RPG market. There is essentially no story. The gameplay is merely okay and gets old quick. The game pushes an impressive amount of characters, but the dull graphics and poor animation makes it suffer. The sound is nothing special. Basically Circle of Doom is generic and dull all the way around except for one bright spot, the fact that you can co-operatively play with up to 4 players on Xbox Live. That bright spot would be reason enough to pick up the game if it was cheap and you had a couple friends who also had it, but I would recommend just downloading the Phantasy Star Online demo on the marketplace, play it for a month with your friends, and not spend a penny.


Generic hack-and-slash RPG. Press A over and over until you defeat the monsters. No special strategies, no variation, and no fun.


The graphics are okay. Nothing special. The amount of enemies the game pushes on screen is nice but is marred by bad animation.


Clank clank chink, about generic as it gets. Gets the job done but not great.


Unfortunately it did not live up to how good its predecessors were on the original Xbox. There are better hack-and-slash action RPGs out there. The only good thing this game did was 4-player co-operative play, which is also the only thing that really makes it fun and worthwhile.

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