Majesty 2 has elevated hatred of real-time strategy micromanagement to an art form. This long-long-long-awaited reenvisioning of the nine-year-old cult hit best known today as one of the last games to come out under the legendary MicroProse label yanks managerial duties out of your hands almost entirely and subs in a more ambiguous chain of command where you bribe the great unwashed into doing your bidding. Innovations like this take the 1C Company game only so far, however. Although handing out royal edicts certainly makes you feel more like a king than telling nobodies how to chop wood, formulaic mission design beats you down with an overly repetitive sense of sameness.
As in the first Majesty game, the story and fantasy setting are rather straightforward. In the single-player campaign, you play the last heir to the throne of Ardania, a Tolkien-esque land where vampires spring from graveyards, ratmen rampage through forests, and a demon lord has taken the crown that is rightfully yours. It’s an attractive realm, if a bit visually dated, with colorful fantasy artwork that could have been pulled out of a Dungeons & Dragons module from the early 1980s. A good sense of humor and advisor voice-overs provided by a Sean Connery soundalike further add to the lighthearted atmosphere.
The gameplay is also on the old-fashioned side. Missions are structured along traditional RTS lines where base building is concerned. You start with a town castle, and then you move on to erecting a marketplace and trading posts to earn money; tossing up guilds to recruit heroes like warriors, rangers, clerics, and mages; placing guard posts and wizard towers to fend off invaders; and so on. As your town grows, you branch out to research spells, magic trinkets like health potions, and various hero buffs. Heroes gain experience and increase in level. Groups can be organized into adventuring parties to take on tough quests. Taxes roll in regularly from peasants, leaving you with few worries about the treasury once you develop a network of trading posts. If you know your RTS ABCs, you’ll be rolling along in no time.