Chivalry: Medieval Warfare – Review
The rain is pouring; you hear it ping as it falls upon your armour. Beside you, your brother in arms prepares himself for battle, and, standing before you are twenty men waiting to plow into your lines. You begin your charge and find yourself in a maelstrom of steel, limbs are cleaved from bodies and men die in the rain. Chivalry: Medieval Warfare is the latest game from Torn Banner Studios and Lace Mamba, and promised just this kind of fast-paced medieval first-person action. Sadly though, in many ways it just does not deliver.
Starting Chivalry: Medieval Warfare, I knew that the focus was on quick multiplayer games where players would clash swords in a gameplay style usually found in the first person shooter. Fair enough. Once installed, I decided to give the training a try, and immediately noticed that the game really does know that it is a game. No, it isn’t sentient, but more than a few times the training mentions joining the multiplayer sessions once you are done, killing any sense of immersion you might have built.
The training explains the basics, just like any other tutorial ever created, and goes into detail on how to use the combat system. As the game is set in the medieval age, your main weapons will consist of the sword, dagger, mace and bow, all of which are controlled through your mouse or gamepad. Chivalry varies from games like Skyrim or Mount and Blade in the way the weapon is controlled in the first person. Different attacks are mapped to the various mouse buttons: slash on the left click, block on the right, with the mouse wheel used to stab or overhead smash. I personally found this incredibly tricky to pick up, mainly because the mouse wheel is usually an afterthought in an FPS. It was easier, however, while using the gamepad, and if you do happen to pick this up that is the way to play. Given the various ways you can attack the enemy, I found that during multiplayer games, players are usually flicking around so quickly that you find yourself doing nothing but spinning and slashing anyway. It seems to me like a lot of wasted effort in the combat system that could have been very simple.
Once I’d completed the, frankly ridiculously poor training (the voice overs are possibly the worst thing I’ve ever heard in a game), and had my game immersion completely shattered, I tried to jump into a multiplayer session. Now, this is where I had an issue, as no servers showed up on the server list. Obviously with a multiplayer-focused release, this is a bit of an issue. Disappointed, I tried setting up my own game and filling it with bots instead, and was pleased to find that although there are only a small number of maps in the game, each is reasonably large and incredibly detailed.
As you would expect, there are a number of game types: team deathmatch, free for all, and team objective. Team death match and free for all are pretty self-explanatory, but in team games the players choose between the Mason Order and Agathian Knights, with each side battling over a series of mission objectives, ranging from defending a village to taking the walls. As teams move through the maps they will come across interactive weapons like boiling oil and ballista, providing that little extra support. They tend to be pretty tricky to achieve without a well-coordinated team at your back, but they are the real star of the show out of the three game types.
On the plus side, Chivalry has incredibly stunning visuals and sound. Weapons, character models, maps and the visual fx are all incredibly polished and the game itself is chock full of guttural sound effects, giving you that feel of being on the battlefield. The maps are impressive; vast in scale and filled with interactive objects or insanely screaming peasants, they effectively set the scene and create that feeling of being in a much bigger battle. I mean, most of this happens in multiplayer where you will often find a player just randomly jumping or team killing, but it helps with immersion and, as I mentioned, following the tutorial immersion is something that Chivalry really needs. Models are also very detailed, textures are sharp, and you will find yourself splattered with blood or possibly dismembered. Yes, nothing says “I just pwned your face” like taking a warhammer to a player’s skull, causing it to explode. It does make the game that little bit more visceral and, dare I say, fun.Pros
- Incredibly detailed maps
- Visually stunning
- Visceral gameplay (when it works)
- Let down by technical issues
- Overly complicated combat system
- Stupidly put together tutorial
Sadly, for Chivalry: Medieval Warfare's few positive points, the whole thing is really let down by poor game mechanics. The server lists are often unresponsive, leading to the player having to restart the game, and sometimes the in-game menus simply lock up, again requiring a restart. While in an active game, I’ve seen peasant NPCs stuck in terrain, causing them to rapidly repeat sound effects and animations - this can be… annoying. The combat system is a little iffy, and if you are suffering from a lot of lag, you can forget about playing at all as players begin to zip around and you'll find yourself dying as quick as you can respawn.
Chivalry was incredibly frustrating to play, not only battling other players in the few working multiplayer games I could find, but also the myriad of small technical issues that just sap away any fun. Still, the box is nice. Seriously though, do not buy this.
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