If we could go back two decades, then you would no doubt find me huddled round a small screen dissecting each and every move, detail and tactic found in Command & Conquer. I’d be on the hunt for Tiberium, I’d be ordering my troops across the battlefield with ease and I’d be taking the fight to the Brotherhood of Nod as I prepared myself for an almighty face off with the evil Kane.
So the chance to go hands-on with what initially looks like a modern day C&C clone-type-affair was too good a chance to turn down. The thing is, is the draw for a turn based, hexagonally strategic game still what we are after?
I’m not too sure you know.
Simply put, Battle Worlds: Kronos pits you and your army against the AI and their forces in a tactically deep, tiled warfare fight to the death. Your planet is being torn apart by war and its destiny is in your hands. Entirely. Whilst the overall premise is a simple one, things get a lot more complicated – very quickly!
Before you even start getting down and dirty with the action in Kronos, King Art Games have a warning for you. They kick things off by dropping in a small pop-up, warning that what you’re about to experience is a hard game.
Now, I have no issue with that, I can deal with a challenge, but the devs think that if you can’t beat it, it’s not because it’s too hard. It’s also not because you aren’t good enough. It’s actually because you haven’t read the tutorial steps that constantly pop up as you play. With each topic being covered extensively, with the most important mechanics being thrown in your face via a step by step process, you could be forgiven for thinking there is a lot of babble in Kronos. And you’d be right. There is. But it is only with this babble and, further more, the experience which you gain, that you’ll begin to understand the ins, the outs, the good and the bad. Even then, you may still struggle to understand fully what Battle Worlds: Kronos brings.
I have to admit to liking the idea though. Whilst I’m still sat here now wondering what on earth the story behind it all is, the actual gameplay premise works well. I guess after piling the hours into similar things throughout my late teens, the full draw doesn’t ever leave your soul. But in the same vein, I’ve ultimately been a little disappointed with what Kronos delivers.
Firstly, it’s too damn slow paced. Picking up each and every unit, in turn, moving them to a spot before deciding whether or not to move them again, fortify them in position or get them attacking the enemy just takes far too long. Combine that with the need to scour the ever enlarging battlefield for that rogue last unit and you’ll soon see why the time and patience required for you to get the most out of this tactical title needs to be immense. Yes, we can use the bumper buttons to quickly switch from troop to troop, and the inclusion of a Y button press that quickly shows who has and who hasn’t got any moves left is a great one, but it still takes far too long to work your way through the hexagonal fields.
This is in no way complimented by the utter urge to use the D-Pad to move your way around, quickly followed by the frustration found when said pad doesn’t actually allow for movement, instead bringing up a number of in-depth text field and optional unit instructions – instructions that fail to let you know the outcome until it’s all too late.
It is also not helped by the fact that the visuals are too similar, with units and entire armies cleverly camouflaging themselves into the background of many areas of the map. It is only really when you use the triggers to zoom in do you find yourself being able to work out roughly what is going on. Even then, when there are twenty units facing off against each other in close quarters combat, it all gets a bit too messy. The battlefields themselves are however well created and if there was just the chance to visually pick out units, structures, repair points or container crates just that little bit more easily, then perhaps the overall pace of the game could indeed be moved on a bit.
So, with some finicky graphics on display, it can only be left to the audio and overall gameplay mechanics to help push Battle Worlds: Kronos into an above average title. Well, the audio doesn’t help in any such way and we really are left with nothing but the same thing that I witnessed all those years ago with C&C. I guess that isn’t the real worry for King Art Games though as the odd blast and bomb drop here and there, or the numerous sounds of machine guns or tank cannons can’t really be moved on very far from what it already has. It would have been nice to have seen the story played out with some form of voiceover work though as the pop-up multi-tree conversational offering is rather dire, to say the least. At no point in time did I want to have to worry about finding out more about the backstory surrounding Battle Worlds: Kronos. I’m sure others probably would though.
One thing I did worry about however was the need for the constant saving that is required should you wish to progress in your fight. As gamers in 2016, we find ourselves thrown a lifeline consistently over and over again, with many games saving our progress for us and dropping in the odd checkpoint or two to ensure that there is little of our precious time lost. Battle Worlds: Kronos, however, lets you get on with all that yourself. Unless you forget of course. I guess I shouldn’t be sitting here criticising something that should really be second nature, but with a number of failed attempts at even cracking the very first tutorial stage behind me, it took far longer than I would have expected for me to understand the need and requirements behind the regular saving of the game. There is an auto-save in place, but unless you actively go and search it out, you won’t ever know when or what has been kept from disaster. It was initially a pain to find myself needing to repeat the same mission over and over and over again, but perhaps that was down to my own poor skills and file management. But hey, I’m not a PC player – I’m an Xbox gamer who just wants an easy life.
Perhaps it was all down to the huge amount of info that my small brain was trying to process. You see, as the initial warning foretold, Battle Worlds: Kronos only really works when you manage to read and take in all instructions, all tips and all the informative pieces that are throw your way on a fairly regular basis. It doesn’t take a genius to understand how to move, or how to fight against the enemy, but should you wish to succeed (and that’s why we play games), you’ll need to get right into the finer arts from the get go. It’ll take you a while though to work out how each unit and structure can be used to best effect and even then, you may wish to grab yourself a note pad and jot some helpful tips down!
With no multiplayer options to get your teeth into, and the chance of maxing out the achievements a long way from ever happening, unless you’re prepared to sit down and spend a huge number of hours with Battle Worlds: Kronos, saving at every point in order to keep yourself sane, then you’re going to struggle to find too much to draw you back. If you do like what is on offer, then you’ll find a very comprehensive campaign that is split into three distinct segments and the chance to battle it out even more with a number of challenge maps. Needless to say, these are a huge test that will only really be worth taking on once you’ve spent a number of hours delving into everything Kronos offers.
If you’d put me in front of Battle Worlds: Kronos back in the late 90’s, thrown me a controller and told me to get on with it, then I’d have no doubt had a superb time. But over the years, both gaming and myself have moved on. Battle Worlds: Kronos is by no means a bad game, but its exacting nature and stupidly hard challenge will ensure that it fails to appeal to the vast majority of modern day gamers. Myself included.
Only through experience will you be able to Command and Conquer!
Related: Let’s Play Battle Worlds: Kronos on Xbox One!