By: Jeff Cater
Torn Banner Studios charged spear-first at us back in 2012 with the release of Chivalry: Medieval Warfare on PC. The never ending battle between the Agatha Kingdom and the Mason Order has recently spilled onto Xbox 360, but there are some things to consider before you decide to pick up your sword.
Even on PC, the controls were difficult. After all, the game is a medieval combat melee-fest in first-person. Movement and looking around are taken care of by the usual sticks, the A button makes your character jump and an in-game menu can be switched between (through orders and taunt messages) with the d-pad.
Actual combat is much trickier as there are three attack buttons and one to block, all done with the shoulder buttons and triggers. Each attack activates a different directional blow, and blocking at the correct time can deflect an attack granting a large counter opportunity for you. In truth, the controls are about as good as they can be, but they feel awkward nonetheless.
This is something that is shared with its older PC brother, flailing swords around with a mouse isn’t conducive to a good time. Simply put, first-person melee combat is a high rack to toss your hat to.
Even though it was released on “last gen” consoles, Chivalry looks pretty solid. The frame rate does a great job at remaining consistent, and the character models feature some pretty high resolution textures. The ground looks a bit drab, though, and the extremely sparse grass patches and vegetation will surely remind you that you are on a console and not a PC.
Environmental and character shadows are done very well, and metal surfaces feature a nice gleam to them when in the sunshine. Unlike the PC version, however, you cannot adjust your field of view. This means that the bigger the TV you will be playing on, the more scrunched you will feel.
Probably my favorite aspect of the game is how the sound design team clearly had an absolute blast recording the audio. The tutorial advisor’s lines are delivered well most of the time, but the real treat is during battle when you can taunt your enemies. If you taunt while standing still, you’ll belt out an insult directed at the enemy team. If you are charging in and taunt your guy just starts screaming like a maniac, which is fun, hilarious and frightening all at the same time.
Chivalry: Medieval Warfare is strictly a multiplayer game, so don’t expect a depth-y story (or any story, for that matter). It’s basically Red (Mason Order) vs. Blue (Agatha Kingdom) in a variety of game modes: Free-for-all, Team Deathmatch, Duel, Capture the Flag, etc.
To draw blood on the field of battle, you may choose between the Archer, Vanguard, Man-At-Arms and the Knight, all of whom have their own unique armor, weapons, and move sets. While your options seem pretty open, Torn Banner Studios had to make some sacrifices.
Firstly, the player count is limited to 12 in any given mode (aside from the 1v1 Duel). On PC, there’s, at the very least, 20 other people running around with sharp objects, and given the fact that this iteration is a direct port the maps seem hopelessly empty most of the time. It is also damn near impossible to find a full server, so either invite some pals to tag along with you or play against the bots.
It is a damn fun game when you can pool some people together, but finding a good, consistent crowd to play with on consoles that are on their last legs is about as challenging as landing a thrusting stab with a javelin.
The truth about this console installment of Chivalry: Medieval Warfare is that it’s an admirable attempt to bring a unique title to another audience, but what are the odds that the people in that crowd don’t have a PC that will run the game? The Xbox 360 came out in 2005, and Chivalry was initially released on PC in 2012 so there is a noticeable hardware power gap. Rather than cut and trim, I firmly believe the game should have been upgraded and treated with a release on the Xbox One and PlayStation 4. By all means, play Chivalry! It’s a blast! Just do it on PC.