Saturday, February 9, 2019

Dark Ages DOOM

It sounds like Starbreeze Studios has run afoul of the law and it's anyone's guess as to whether or not they will continue to exist as a publisher/developer of video games.  For most folks, I imagine that their fondest memories associated with Starbreeze (if any at all) are tied to games like Chronicles of Riddick, The Darkness or Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons.  As strange as it might sound, the game I remember the most by Starbreeze is one of their lesser titles, Knights of the Temple: Infernal Crusade

This game came out way back in 2003 so my memory might be a bit fuzzy, but it's basically an action adventure game played from the third-person perspective.  As I recall it was possible to go into a first-person view when using a bow.  The main character is a medieval knight, who becomes increasingly covered in armor as the game progresses.  A number of weapons can be found ranging from axes to maces and of course swords of various calibers.  There are some puzzles and a few useful items that can be found by exploring the environment.  eventually the player will also be able to cast paladian-like spells.  That aside, the core gameplay is close quarters combat.  Enemies consist of mad monks in the beginning and, by the end are mostly made up of demonic monsters.  In between that are a lot of warriors of either european or middle-eastern origin that the player must fight their way through to advance.  To make the melee interesting a lot of work was put into the mocap.  Character animations, across the board, are superb with different attack combos based on weapon or enemy type.  The game also employs what's called a "dynamic camera" that shifts view points (as well as pans and moves about) rather than a standard over-the-shoulder viewpoint.  The closest comparison I can think of is Silent Hill 1 through 4...or the original Dino Crisis.

Despite the camera setup being ideal for a horror game, Knights of the Temple: Infernal Crusade isn't scary.  The story is (obviously) set during the time of the Crusades and features a variety of locations appropriate to that era; monasteries, castles, and lost cities from antiquity.  There's also hell.  Although, if you ask me it feels like the level architecture was lifted directly from Quake.  The story is nothing special; a maiden known to perform miracles is kidnapped by an evil bishop, who plans on using said maiden as a key to open up the gates to the underworld.  It's a lot like DOOM actually, except set in the past rather than the future.

Knights of the Temple: Infernal Crusade was mildly fun when I played it a decade-and-a-half ago, but I doubt to would hold much appeal to most people these days.  It had a tie-in music video by the rock band Within Temptation.  That was kind of cool and fits well with the DOOM comparison I made previously.  Oddly enough none of the their music appears in the actual game though...instead, it's just a bunch of rather uninspired orchestral tunes.

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