Here be Apathetic Swordsmen and Witty Necromancers...
Decided to port this over from GamesRadar UK forums for feedback purposes.
Links: Official site - http://www.chroniclogic.com/index.htm?ke.htm
Free trial version and full version can be found there, there's also a pretty recent demo file out on Filefront.
Quickies: RPG and RTS blend, sense of humor, custom challenges, great tutorial (new player friendly), full version costs 20$ and can also be bought as a CD through a special order. Challenges can be shared through the community.
My ten year old dell purred sinfully as it downloaded Kingdom Elemental - Tactics onto it's dust filled, rust covered hard drive. "Hah, I've had harder times with porn!" it seemed to say. And I had to agree. Even though KE-T looked about as good or better than the original Neverwinter Nights (and about as polished as Halo), its recommended system requirements clocked in at a measly 1 GHZ processor and 256 MB of RAM. By no means is the game perfect, but in today's multi billion dollar industry driven world, KE-T will leave you more satisfied than playing, say, Barbie's Super Happy Fun Pony Adventure. Not to mention, it's pretty cheap at 20$.
One thing that the player will immediately notice is the author's intent to poke fun at the RPG genre in general. The Swordsman are apathetic, ("For...your honor. *Yawn*) and the Necromancers are actually funny to listen to. ("I'm death. Who are you?") Even though the developer gently ribs all those roleplaying shenanigans and cliches constantly, he never seems out of touch, tasteless, or openly hostile. Even the most drooling-mouthbreathing-MMORPG-player-hambeast will chuckle at least once at the spot on and relevant jokes. The fact that most of the voice acting is better than some Triple-A titles I could mention (I'm looking at you, Oblivion) and the fact that the writer kept it relatively fresh for the length of the campaign just speaks volumes about the heart put into making a quality product.
But like my grandpa used to say, "You can have all the heart in the world boy, but without any blood, there isn't a cardiovascular system." Or something like that.
Luckily, Kingdom Elemental - Tactics has enough blood to supply quite a few Red Cross drives. Its campaign is pretty lengthy for a 20$ game: it took me about 30 minutes to reach the last round of the first stage on easy in the Trial version. Each stage has a series of rounds (I believe the first stage has about 7 rounds), each consisting of 1-4 "waves" of enemies. You get no breaks in between waves, and you're stuck with the units you chose at the beginning of the round. (There are also "boss rounds" where you fight only 1 wave of 1 powerful monster.) Now, you don't have access to all of the units you'll need at first, you must unlock them using points earned by winning rounds. Sounds simple right? Well, here's the catch: each unit has 3 abilities at its disposal, but you must also spend the same points to unlock them as well. Depending on your play style, you may opt for a lot of different units on the field that have only a few abilities, or you may want to choose a few units with all of their abilities unlocked. It's a simple premise, but the system offers enough depth to entertain and keep the player coming back for more. Stages load up and take place on one static field throughout each round. Think smaller Final Fantasy Tactics Advance rather than Warcraft III. You don't build bases. Instead, you are allotted gold each round and you simply pick and choose which units you want that have been unlocked. Battles then unfold in real time--although you can pause the game and see what's going on/give out orders, which is extremely helpful.
Even though KE-T screams quality in almost every respect, there are some minor things that can annoy the player. The aforementioned static maps bug me, as does the constant droning of the music. (The main menu music is great though) There are some occasional sounds glitches with units, but they're hardly noticeable. I suggest opening up project playlist or something while you play, but make sure you can still hear the units and narrator speak.
Well, there you have it. What? Were you expecting me to give you an arbitrary ??/100 or something? How about I just do it this way, mm?
The good: Great tutorial, voice acting, and writing. Gameplay is simplistic but surprisingly deep. Battles take place in real time and are usually frantic and fun. Lots and lots of unit combinations for battle. Funny dialog. There is custom content, but I never got around to trying it (demo version).
The bad: Minor sound glitches. The maps you play on for each stage don't change from round to round. The music in battle gets dull very quickly.
The 0.o: If I extrapolated this review from the demo version, what do you think I would have done with the full version?