Kings Field: The Ancient City (Kings Field IV) - Reader Retroview  

One Step Forward, Three Steps Back
by Lucky Melchior

10 - 20 Hours


Rating definitions 

   After an absence of over five years, the King's Field series finally returned to North America in 2002. The next chapter of the first person action RPG series is the first installment of the series on the Playstation 2. Does the game justify the long break? While the game improves greatly in one area, it seems to fall short in several others.

   If you have played any games from the King’s Field series, then you will have little difficulty picking up the game mechanics since the game play is pretty much the same as the rest of the series. The game is played from a first person perspective. Combat is based upon timing and depth perception. If you have never played the series before this may be a bit tricky at first. You can also strafe to the left or right to attempt to avoid damage. You have a wide variety of weapons available to you throughout the game, including swords, axes, maces and bows. You can also learn to use magic. The magic system returns to the series' roots as you learn magic by finding magic crystals of each element. This system is a bit archaic and I feel a step in the wrong direction. New game play aspects that were introduced include equipment deterioration and the ability to go underwater. All of your equipment starts with a Dura rating of 100. As you use your equipment that dura rating will decrease and thus making the equipment less effective. However, you can bring your equipment to a blacksmith to be repaired.

You can see how the equipment looks on you You can see how the equipment looks on you

    As for the plot, basically there is this Idol of Sorrow which is a relic that brings disaster upon everything it touches. The idol first brings ruin upon the “Holy Land.” Then the idol was given to your King as a token of peace, but the land was cursed by the idol. An expedition led by the sword master is sent out by the king to return the idol to the Holy land. The expedition never returns and then you are visited by a strange wanderer who gives you the Idol of Sorrow.Now you alone embark to take it back to the "Holy Land" with no armor or weapons. That is pretty much the whole story. Even for an action RPG it is pretty pathetic. Unlike the previous game in the series, King's Field II, there are no towns, or fields, forests or lakes to explore. Instead you journey down this underground tower, the "Holy land," meeting the occasional person. There was zero effort put into the story of this game.

This guy repairs your worn out equipmeny This guy repairs your worn out equipment

   The one aspect of the series that this game improves upon, and that which is it's lone saving grace, is the graphics. The graphics are very crisp and clear. There are very few lines or breaks in the picture. Definitely leaps and bounds above the previous games in the series. As for the Music, there are no outstanding or above average tracks. For the most part the score serves as atmosphere and background. Since there is no real plot to speak of there is no need for key music to go along with emotional scenes.

   The interface and interaction are also pretty average. Since there is very little story there was not much text to localize. Yet, I can not recall any glaring translation errors in what little text there is. The menu system is pretty average as well. It can be annoying mid combat to switch to the menu to use items or healing/support magic. But, there is the ability to customize the select button to use an item or magic to circumvent this problem.

   Although the graphics are fairly impressive, King's Field: The Ancient City regresses in almost all other areas. King's Field IV does nothing to advance the series as a whole and frankly is a huge disappointment after such a long break. Imagine if Dragon Warrior VII had been a complete bust after the long break for that series in North America. The bottom line is that if you have ever heard about the concept of a first person RPG, and it has interested you, ignore this game and search for King's Field II on the PSX.

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