It goes without saying that most of the medium of gaming is bogged down these days by generic first-person shooters, each one being increasingly less innovative than the last. The fact that something as simple as replacing guns with swords can prove to be so innovative begs the question how has it taken this long for a game like Chivalry to exist? A multiplayer only game, Chivalry takes a bold step in totally re-inventing first person combat, replacing bullets with arrows, and bringing the brutal, hack-and-slashing combat of sword fighting into the real-time PvP world.
Training mode briefly drops you in a back story involving the ‘Agathian Knights’ in a civil war against the ‘Mason Order’. It’s never really fleshed out, and is only served to give you basic training and combat experience. But one can expect nothing less than a game that was originally developed as a Half Life 2 mod. Chivalry doesn’t pretend to provide you with an epic spiel, and it more than makes up for its lack of narrative with its gameplay. The problem with making a predominantly melee based game, is the simple act of swinging a sword from left to right can get awfully monotonous. Chivalry however, manages to keep gameplay feeling fresh, fair, and as tight as your connection speeds will allow.
While games like the Elder Scrolls series have combat that could be described as ‘floaty’, Chivalry ensures each blow feels like it does damage with a mixture of HUD changes and sound effects. Stabbing, slashing and overhead attacks are all accessible with an arsenal of weapons that include axes, swords, halberds and maces as well as bows and crossbows for the archer classes. Stabs are a long-distance poke, designed to keep the enemy at bay, slashing is your standard attack and overheads are powerful but lack accuracy. Combos are simple enough to execute, yet easy enough to block when being attacked by them. Skill comes from timing your blocks, knowing when to attack, and watching your stamina bar. Feints and kicks are also special abilities in your arsenal, and each class has their own pros and cons.
Archers were one of my favorite classes. In a game focused on close range combat, long distance attacks definitely had an advantage, and with a decent dagger for getting up close, archers are definitely a well-rounded class. However, using the bow and arrow/crossbow can be tricky, and is no where near as simple as lining up a shot in a scope. Players of more realistic shooters like Battlefield will know what how hard it is taking into account bullet drop in the heat of battle. This proves even more difficult when a big, hairy knight with a 10-foot Halbert is charging towards you.
The Knight is the tank of the game. The slowest of the characters, but dealing and taking the most damage. I found this to be my absolute favorite character, purely because of the shields. Shields block your field of vision, but pretty much make you invulnerable against attacks. This is especially useful when fighting multiple opponents, as normally this situation is a guaranteed death. The two remaining classes are the Vanguard, which is your mid character, and the man-at-arms, the more sprightly of the lot, but comes with less health.
Furthermore, Chivalry boats excellent 64 player combat to really get that feel of going head-to-head with an opposing army, and sterling voice-acting and graphics only help to reinforce this. The (very) occasional use of siege weapons is just that final icing on the cake. Role players and the general geek community have been dreaming about this game for decades. Coming from the jolly old land of England, we do appreciate a good medieval romp, and this is as good as it gets.
Is It Worth Your Money?
The AI when fighting bots is decent enough when it’s not getting lost, or attacking people on its own side. I recommend having a few sessions with these bots just so you get your head around the combat and game modes post-training, but I definitely recommend picking this title up if you’re a fan of online shooters. It’s something that will cleanse your pallet and leave you thoroughly surprised. I was expecting a sluggish knock off, and I got a polished and well made brawler.