Guest Author - James Shea
The sequel to Cyberlore's original "Majesty", released in 2000, "Majesty 2" is a Fantasy Kingdom Simulator by a completely different studio that attempts to uphold the standard established by its predecessor. In some ways, it succeeded; in other ways, it could not.
Majesty 2 places you in the role of a king ruling over a fantasy realm. As with Majesty 1, you control the realm indirectly; you can hire heroes and cast some spells, but most of the work of the realm is carried out automatically. Once you've hired heroes, you can influence them with reward flags; placing bounties on monsters, or marking certain areas for exploration. Majesty 2 also adds two new flags - a timed "protect" flag that heroes will guard until it expires, and a "fear" flag that warns them to stay away from an area.
The economic system is taken from Majesty as well. Tax collectors are sent out from your castle to the various guilds and markets of your realm. Places for heroes to buy weapons and items are the most prosperous; heroes will go out, slay enemies, and then return laden with gold to spend it on upgrades, and thus bring it into your kingdom's circulation.
Heroes on the whole are similar, too, with a few differences. Warriors are your basic tanks, armed with sword and shield. Rangers carry bows and are the main explorers. Clerics heal allies (though you get them much earlier than you did in Majesty, which is a little unbalancing). Rogues are easily influenced by money, though their design is different than Majesty - they use knives instead of crossbows, which means that they're not particularly helpful in a fight due to their low health. Wizards are powerful spell-slingers, but are weak at low levels.
One difference with heroes is that they can be upgraded to a different temple-based class. This is roughly equivalent to hiring paladins, barbarians and the like in Majesty; all it really means is that in addition to hiring these warriors directly from the temple, you can choose to upgrade a lower class into a higher one - keeping experience, but leaving items behind. Another difference is that you can organize heroes into parties in Inns. Parties will hang out together, thus ensuring their group safety. Finally, at the end of every scenario, you can choose one hero to designate as a "lord". Lords can be brought from mission to mission, keeping their experience, gold, and items. This adds some element of connection to the game, and you can get attached to your more powerful characters if you use them enough.
The main problem with the game, though, is that the campaign is relatively short and there is no real Free Build mode. Majesty had a mode where you could set various options and just play on a random map; Majesty 2 lacks that feature, but has a few pre-made scenarios. However, since the free building was the main source of replay value in the game, this difference is a major problem with the game. There were so many different options in the original that the outright removal of the feature just seems silly.
The graphics are unpleasantly outdated. Stylistically, it looks somewhere between Warcraft III and World of Warcraft; lots of cartoony armor and stylized buildings. However, the actual effects and textures aren't that great, and it's not a particularly fun game to watch. Two years ago it might have been acceptable, but now it just looks outdated. It doesn't look distractingly bad, but it doesn't look good, either. You can't really arrange your town - buildings can't be rotated - so there's no joy in making a prosperous city since it's all a giant mess of structures.
Most of the voice acting is pretty bad, with the exception of the Advisor, who is actually the same voice actor from the original Majesty. Many of the lines of the heroes in the game are the same as the original game's, but because of the bad voice acting it just seems like a shallow attempt to appeal to the original's fans. The music is nice, but forgettable.
As a whole, Majesty 2 is kind of fun, but not good in its own right. The low production quality and the lack of random maps really upsets it. There's multiplayer, but it uses the archaic Gamespy Arcade for internet play. Honestly, it feels like it should have been released four years ago; as it is now, it's really just disappointing.