Reviewer’s Note: Rarely have I found a game so engaging as I’ve found Majesty to be. I was compelled to finish every level to the bitter end, and finishing some of them was quite bitter indeed. Still, in spite of the absolute obsession I had over Majesty, I do recognize that the game has its flaws. Nonetheless, no matter what bad things I might say about it, know this: I love this game.
Feel the Love:
Majesty is a wonderful combination of a simulation game (SIM) with artificial intelligence (AI) and a role-playing game (RPG). The mix makes for a delightful new style of play. One of the joys of a SIM is the AI component. Once generated, characters move about the environment you’ve created for them and get into mischief completely independent of you.
Sure, you can destroy things and build things, but basically the inhabitants of Sim games are self-directed. A common complaint about SIMs, however, is that there is really no goal to the game. Without a goal, the game has no clear ending, which is so satisfactory in games like Myst, or Mario64 or any other type of goal-oriented game.
Role-playing games, of course, have goals in abundance, some might say too abundant in some cases, but the characters in RPGs are mostly mindless and completely at the will of the player. You can pile them up and send them off to their deaths and they mindlessly go into battle willing to allow you to destroy over half of them for the sake of a goal. No leader ever rebels; no foot soldier ever goes AWOL. They all just march to their deaths like so many lemmings.
Majesty, in combining a SIM with an RPG creates a much more enticing game. In Majesty, like in an RPG, you chose a quest and are told up front your goals and limitations. A goal could be anything from making a 100,000 pieces of gold in 40 days to pay off a demon or find a magic ring to end a spell of plague throughout the kingdom. Then like in a SIM, you can create a medieval city. You can build blackSmiths, and temples, and warrior’s guilds and rogue’s guilds and even wizard’s guilds. You can set up marketplaces and trading posts to make money, and finally you can hire heroes to defend your kingdom or to find things for you.
Then comes the tricky part. The heroes operate on AI, so they do what they want. All you can do is offer them services and rewards, but you can’t make them take them. For instance, you can upgrade your blackSmith to sell better weapons and armor, but that’s no guarantee that your heroes will by it. The smart ones will, the dumb ones won’t. You can offer cash rewards for destroying certain creatures or buildings, but cowardly heroes won’t do it no matter what the reward is. Greedy heroes will stay long past the point that they should run away, and end up getting killed. You can’t control any of that.
All you can do is build the best kingdom possible, hire people and hope they’re competent. Gee, sounds like my last job. Unlike my last job, however, I just couldn’t get enough of this game, which is why the flaws were so annoying.
Hate the sin, not the sinner:
Okay, there were some flaws. The AI for each individual character makes the game go slower the more heroes you have on the map. This isn’t so noticeable in the beginner games, but in the some of the advanced and all of the expert games the lag is not only noticeable, it’s very frustrating.
The maps for the individual quests are rather small. On the other hand, this probably plays into the AI issue because larger maps would mean more heroes needed to cover the territory, which would lead to further slow downs – you see where this is going. The game is available in a multi-player mode over the net. However, I have it on good authority that it is so agonizingly slow that rather than true multi-player it is more like a turn-based game. Playing the single player expert level was slow enough for me to not bother with trying to put together a multi-player game.
There is also an option to download further quests, but since I did nothing but play this game for three weeks with the quests that are provided, I felt that in the interest of my marriage I should not explore the download possibilities.
And So In Conclusion:
I’m forced by a certain level of professionalism to give Majesty 4 out of 5 GiN Gems because the slow downs on the more difficult quests just don’t warrant 5 out of 5. Having said that, however, I encourage you to run, not walk, to purchase this game, and play it until you dream about it.