Wednesday, 24 June 2015

My Usual Spiel: Chivalry Medieval Warfare, a truly sensational LAN experience

Release Date: October 16th 2012
Genre: Action
Publisher: Torn Banner Studios
Developer: Torn Banner Studios
Platform: Windows, Mac OS X, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Players: 1 and Multiplayer
Classification: PEGI 18

Chivalry was a game that I only found out about at the Bluewire LAN, usually I don’t bother purchasing games that are played randomly at the LAN as most of the time they are usually only played once then that’s it though this one was played quite a few times so I decided it was a fair buy. I can’t quite remember how I played it at first but I do know that it’s been relatively staple at the LAN for a few years now and it’s a ton of fun. So let’s get down it what it is: Chivalry Medieval Warfare was technically derived from the Half-Life 2  total-conversion mod Age of Chivalry (which it retains a large amount of content from) and focused on close-combat medieval fighting in mainly in first-person view, it is almost completely a multiplayer game as there is no singleplayer campaign or even any singleplayer content apart from a short training mode. There is a story however which follows the fictional war between the Agatha Knights and the rebellious Mason Order, the various battleground reflect this being set in medieval villages and bloody battlegrounds especially the ‘Team Objective’gametype which plays out various scenarios over several different maps including the Masons laying siege to a castle and the Agathans defending the Royal Family.

Storming a castle in team objective mode Kill Heathens!
 I’ve actually been playing Chivalry on and off for quite a while now and it’s had some updates since the initial version I played. At the time of my review Patch 28 had been implemented bringing with it a much better interface and a number of other changes, which I won’t go into detail as they were mostly visual. The training mode for Chivalry is fairly straightforward, you learn how to move, how to swing a weapon, and most importantly how to fight. I didn’t do the training into much more recently and I had never known about things like how to feint and other less-obvious tactics which I quickly learned.

The training mode is a great help for beginners and should be done no matter how much you've played it already.
The gameplay in Chivalry is largely based around one-on-one player versus player combat, there is a large amount of teamplay and classes which can attack multiple enemies at once but most of the fighting goes on between you and your opponent. The basics of attacking and defending are pretty straightforward, you simply click the left mouse button and you will swing your weapon in the direction you are moving, scrolling the mousewheel forward performs a thrust while scrolling back does an overhead chop, learned quickly that in team games it is advisable to only chop and stab in large groups as swinging your weapon (especially long ones) could be dangerous to your teammates as well as your enemies, I should know.

The right mouse button as you’re probably wondering does a block and how successful your block is depends on a number of things, which way you’re aiming, whether you have a shield, how much stamina you have etc for example bigger shields cost much less stamina to block with but blocking with a shortsword uses a lot of stamina and knocks you back. You can also crouch (to also duck swings), jump and do a quick or heavy kick or shield bash if you have a shield. You can also issue orders and taunts to your teammates using the Z,X, and C buttons, a fun thing to do is to war cry and yell random things when charging into battle. The training mode is very useful as it goes through all the things you need to start you off including basic and advanced combat, class combat and siege weaponry but obviously you learn the most from playing multiplayer and reading internet guides.

Me playing as Man-at-Arms in the Team Objective Ruins level 

Chivalry has various game modes, the ones we played most often were Team Deathmatch and Free for all where we just slugged it out though my favourite was the Team Objective mode where you had to complete certain objectives like pushing a wagon up a hill while defending it or readying battering rams and catapults for a siege, it really gave a lot of realism to the battle instead of random violence. There are a few other modes including Last Team Standing and Capture the flag, we also tried the King of the Hill mode which was pretty fun, you have to fight to take control of a central area which becomes a real bloodbath, I haven’t tried the duel mode yet but will have a go at some point. The maps in Chivalry are mostly medieval grassy hills, towns, castles and muddy battlefields based though some differ greatly as they are based in Tenosia which is a hot desert climate, with lots of sand and palm trees and has a level based in the fighting pits which is quite fun. There is also a small level in the Kings Throne room which also serves as the last part of  a Team objective series and even a level based in a bar where you can only use your fists!

Bar Brawl!

The game is still good online but several people found that playing online and playing on LAN takes a bit of getting used to because of the lag time as you could probably guess it’s a very timing-orientated game, I have tried playing online but can’t really see much difference probably because the online players are just so much better than me. Playing multiplayer gets you used to the nuts and bolts of the game learning the classes learning when to dodge, duck and parry etc and analysing your enemy and knowing what he’ll do and when he’ll strike and also his strengths/weaknesses. Knowing the level helps too especially if you’re an archer or playing a Team Objective map. Speaking of classes there are 4 classes available to play, each class has a variety of weapons that come in the primary, secondary and tertiary slots, the latter being class-specific weapons, you start off with a few choices but the other weapons you need to unlock by gettings kills and points using that particular weapons I usually just go which classes there are least on the Battlefield which means most of the time it’s Man-at-Arms

 (playing archer on the dark forest level)

Archer  Archers are obviously the most lightly armoured class but strangely not the fastest, they use bows, crossbows and  even javelins and slings and can carry a small secondary weapon (I used the shortsword mostly as you could parry with it) they can also use different types of ammo which are good in certain situations, for example the Broadhead Arrow does more damage to lightly armoured targets and the Bodkin Arrow is better for armoured targets such as knights and vanguards . I’ve read that this class is generally frowned upon, like Snipers in FPS games, and though I like to go Archers sometimes and done ok, it’s one of those classes which you’re only appreciated if you’re good and are kicked for too much team damage/kills.

Man-at-Arms – The Man-at-arms is the fastest class and is better armoured then the Archer, their main strength is their speed, as their playing style is to attack in quick succession while dodging attacks themselves. I’ve gone up against many good men at arms, they can use pretty much any one-handed melee weapon inc some small shields and most players use the Oil Pot effectively (I should really do that too) often as playing as the Knight I’ve been killed by a Man-at-Arms without even been able to land a single hit on one of them. I’ve done ok myself using these guys, I often use the morning star and it does good damage hitting in quick succession as you often just don’t give the enemy time to react.

As a Man-at-Arms I get my shield ready to take on a Vanguard
 Vanguard – Vanguards are highly armoured and use huge long weapons and have a charge attack that can one-shot archers, they also have a smoke-pot ability to obscure view and can throw knives or axes before charging in. Vanguards have a wide variety of two handed weapons including swords polearms and spears.  I don’t go this class too much but they can be fun swinging a huge battleaxe and throwing axes at the enemy, playing against them you really make sure to block or dodge their charge ability.

Knight – Possibly my favourite class, as you’d expect they move and swing slowly due to their heavy armor, but can wield a greatsword with one hand and a shield in the other and as you’d expect are the most durable warriors on the battlefield. I only recently found out that Knights can carry a two-handed sword in one hand which I wish I knew earlier as I was using shortswords and falchions for the majority of the time I’ve been playing, you can also use the Double Axe and Warhammer which look pretty damn fierce. I’ve recently started using the tower shield , it’s huge and gives a lot of protection but fills up almost all of your screen when using first-person mode but frankly I couldn’t do third person as it’s hard to see where you’re blocking.

The class select screen
As well as the unlockable weapons there is also unlockable armor (helms, shields etc) that you can obtain (and also purchase) though these kinds of cosmetic changes often make it hard to work out who’s on which team? Especially since some can have different colours then the usual red and blue. Team killing can be a problem in the game, I learned quickly that in team battles it’s much preferred for you to thrust or do an overhead swing rather than swing horizontally and accidentally take out a teammate, it’s the main cause of grief in the game (that and crap archers) during my latest playing on the multiplayer servers I went quite well with the man at arms kicking and dodging, pretty much just playing him and the knight as most of the time the man at arms is the least played class.

You can also choose your weapons on this screen, notice how some need a certain level to be unlocked.

 Also with the release of the modding tools any person can create mods for the game, I’ve only seen two so far but they are pretty fun. The first is Giant mode: the more kills the player has the bigger he is, and the all popular Black Knight mode: which you can probably guess involves cutting off an opponents limbs until there’s nothing left. Someone even made a Star Wars mod!

The very gory Black Knight mode in Arena, yes you can still fight for a few seconds with no head.

Star Wars! Chivalry style

The graphics in the game look a bit plain but are workable, you really don’t need things looking fantastic and/or want them chugging your computer when you’re trying to win a duel while dodging arrows, the landscapes of both Agatha and Tenosia look great the medieval villages and dark forest in stark contrast to the bright sun, sands and stone of the latter, the interiors are detailed as well giving the full medieval feel. The character models look pretty damn good though you really don’t get time to study them in detail though I did notice that my characters hands looked kind of small in first person view. The more health you lose the more bloodier your character becomes and it’s sometimes hard to see at first glance whose side you are one thank full the nametags help. You’re in-game character can be customised with the basic options being enough for me, you can customise the patterns on your classes clothing and also the colours on your chosen model when playing free-for-all. The music in the game is great, I love hearing it when starting up the game and it’s perfect for the scene of battle the way it starts off slow then as the timer is running out it gets more fast paced. The voicing in the game is hilarious, great old English accents bordering on the satirical, there’s something to be said about beheading an enemy while saying something like "Your malformed skull is unfit for my piss pot."

You can customize your player model's patterns and colours for both Free for all and Team games
Chivalry Medieval Warfare is a great game for what it’s meant to be, a gritty medieval combat simulator with a bit of humour thrown in, it’s awesome game for LANS as there are few pleasures greater then bashing your mates with a hammer of chopping their limbs off with a sword. Chivalry it’s one of the few medieval based games I play which is non fantasy actually probably the only one, the other being Mount and Blade Warband which I played for a bit and must really get back to sometime. I must also mention that there was an expansion pack released for Chivalry called Deadliest Warrior featuring different warriors from different times and all new levels  and weapons inc Samurai and Ninjas!, we did play this for a bit at the LAN but I hope to play it more to be able to do a full review sometime.

The menu screen as of patch Patch 28
I would recommend Chivalry to anyone who wants a magic-free, horse-free, no-nonsense medieval up close hack’n’slash or basically anyone who needs a game to play at a LAN party.

 Score: 9/10

Things I liked:
  • Awesome gritty medieval combat
  • Great game to play with friends/others
  • Very atmospheric, war cries, music, very real sense of threat and fear
  • Great game modes and battlegrounds
  • Easy to pickup and play, steady learning curve
  • Good character customization and overall model detail
Things I didn't like:
  • Cosmetic items requiring money to purchase instead of unlocking : /
  • Some custom items make it hard to know who's on what side.

Well I didn't last long

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