By: Jeff Cater
Last year console players were able to get a small taste of the frantic combat of Chivalry: Medieval Warfare. The version of the game that players received on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 was almost a ghost of the original PC game, with a neutered max-player count, truly rough visuals, and an overall flabby feel. With the game being rereleased on Xbox One and the PlayStation 4, let’s take a closer look to see if it’s worth picking up that claymore…
For starters, the controls are pretty easy to get used to after a few matches. Attacks are bound to the right trigger, bumper and the right stick’s click function. Blocking can be done with the left trigger, but you’ll need to be channeling Obi-Wan Kenobi if you truly want to deflect any attacks. Jumping is pretty worthless as it feels that any obstacle that you’d actually want to jump over seems to be just a smidge too high.
In still form, Chivalry is a pretty decent looking game. The trouble becomes very apparent when the game starts moving, though. There were talks that this version of the game was going to be pushing 60fps, but that seems to only be the case if you’re staring at the ground or directly up into the sky. Otherwise, the framerate will frequently bog down to sub-30 fps levels, making it very difficult to exercise any combat expertise you may possess.
Combat animations are the highlight as they’re extremely well done; watching a heavily armored knight sling the heft of a broadsword at you looks pretty damn good. The animation sets while in first-person view serve the purpose well but any attack often adds some type of camera sway, making it a bit disorientating trying to produce a follow-up attack or react accurately with a block.
Sound is very well done as well, but many of the effects and music pieces suddenly just drop out for no apparent reason. For example, you can make your guy scream his face off while in a full sprint, but all of a sudden his yell will cease and the stark silence of the surrounding area will deafen you.
The rest of the audioscape is filled with plenty of plings, tinks and thwacks to really give the weapons a heavy, devastating feel. I just wish the intensity of the game itself was as cranked up as the audio bed.
Well, this year’s Chivalry for consoles boasts an upped player count, allowing 24 players hack away at one another instead of the barren-feeling 12 max from the last edition. This is still a far cry from the PC experience, because you’ll often find servers with 40-60 players all going for one another’s gorgets.
It contains the same modes from last year, like King of The Hill, Team Death Match, and Capture the Flag, and once again pits the boys in Red (Mason Order) versus the Blue Meanies (Agatha Kingdom). Brand new to this version is a survival/horde mode that definitely feels duct-taped on as there’s no real clear instruction of where to go, how to buy weapons, when you will spawn, etc.
Team Objective mode is still where it’s at when it comes to fun in this game — pushing siege towers to walls and manning catapults. But still, the maps feel like they were geared toward insane player counts, so even though the max has been bumped up to 24, each battle still feels like it’s missing something (like another 15 or so players).
Now, these shortcomings are things that are generally pretty easy to look past when it comes to console ports of a PC game. Generally speaking, we’re usually holding some sort of gun or human-liquefying cannon, and not flailing swords and firing arrows at one another. See, first-person melee combat is one of the most difficult things to lock down. Even in great FPS shooters, the melee weapons always feel a bit funky. Now imagine that as a whole game.
Trying to learn the position of hitboxes and how far each weapon can actually reach was part of the fun on PC, but the graphical hitches of the console version truly hamper that experience. And friendly fire is on by default the whole time, so get used to having your friends lop your head off from time to time when the fighting gets fierce.
Chivalry: Medieval Warfare is not a bad game; it’s just a bad port. Some of my fondest recent gaming memories involved Chivalry on PC because of the hectic melee combat. Unfortunately, due to technical issues, this experience cannot currently be matched on the console version. Very disappointing.