The kingdom of Hironeiden a fine and dandy place to live. Open spaces, nice forests, friendly neighbors to the north and no civil unrest to speak of. Until, that is, a group of soldiers on patrol near the borders discover a hamlet burned to the ground. They chase after the culprits and discover a group of orcs on the run.From there on it's full out war as the orcs and ogres of Hexter move to invade with their new warlord Regnier at the head of their army while the humans mount their counter offensive. It does not go well, as the various forces of Bersia, all with their own goals and intentions, get involved in a huge war that may very well shape the fate of the entire world.Kingdom Under Fire: The Crusaders is an action/strategy game for the XBOX. It was created by Phantagram, the same studio that would go on to make Ninty-Nine Nights. It received a sequel (which is also partially a prequel) named Kingdom under Fire: Heroes, which tells the sidestories of seven other characters that already appeared in the previous game.
Armor Is Useless: Human soldiers wear metal armor and die just as quickly as anyone else
Anachronic Order: The different chapters, especially if we include Heroes as well. For instance, Ellen's, Leinhart's, Urrukubar's campaign take place five years before the battles in the main game, but those of Morene, Cirith, Walter and Rupert do not.
Anti-Villain: The sequel, Heroes, provides a surprisingly large amount of this thanks to the Sympathetic P.O.V.. Despite being classified as the Dark Legion, the protagonists do not really engage in any particularly heinous acts except for the necessary evils of war and showing the occasional callous attitude. In fact, let's have a look at the four of them:
Cirith is just a regular soldier trying to survive. While she betrays her commander, she only does so after said commander tried to get her killed several times. For the most part, her storyline consists of trying not to get killed and saving her comrades and family from danger.
Urukubarr is not only not a villain, but arguably one of the most heroic and sympathetic of all characters. He is depicted as honorable and wise and only fights to liberate his country from foreign oppression. In fact, by the final mission of his campaign, one might find themselves joining in on his cries of "Liberate Hexter!".
Morene is easily the most evil of the playable four. That said, she mellows a bit near the end due to the Break the Haughty situation she finds herself facing, as well as seeming fairly shocked when she has to face Leinhart. In her epilogue, she also reveals a hidden idealist side, having firmly believed in the pride and strength of a united Vellond Empire. There is also her growing friendship with the darkelf commander Ilfa, who she initially despises and distrusts, but grows to respect as she realizes she is an honest one.
Finally, Leinhart starts out as a casanova and spoiled vampire princeling with little respect for anyone, but the time he spends with the orcs of Hexter, as well as the subsequent Humiliation Conga he goes through before meeting Regnier, actually give him a heavy amount of Character Development, turning him into a fierce and devoted knight who has learned to rise beyond his position of birth and stand up for something he believes in even if it may mean giving up all his priviledges.
Annoying Arrows: Archers are definitely useful support units to have but nothing stops the hero characters from continuing to run around slaughtering dozens of enemies after being pin cushoned.
Attack Animal: Hexter makes heavy use of them, with their giant scorpions and swamp mammoths.
Beast of Battle: Hexter, the orc and ogre nation, uses giant scorpions as siege weapons. They also employee swamp mammoths, which are able to shoot large masses of spores out of their flanks, acting as artillery.
Body Horror: The late game enemies are twisted fusions of human, orc, ogre, elf, and any other living species present at the awakening of Encablossa.
Chekhov's Gun: The Dragon Tomb and the Battle Balloon introduced early on in Lucretia's and Gerald's campaign become relevant in the endgame.
Crippling Overspecialization: Advanced units sometimes end up lacking in basic areas. Sappers shouldn't get into a melee fight. Neither should cavalry either (unless it's heavy orc axe cavalry).
Cutting the Gordian Knot: Several missions have moments where you're supposed to partipate in a complex strategic scenario, outmaneuvre an enemy, or pull a tactical retreat. If you are strong enough (that is to say, good in melee and with plenty of healing nearby), you can usually just breeze through anyway. Especially jarring considering that the lategame expects that kind of combat prowess from you all the time.
Dark Is Evil: Played straight once you learn about Encablossa and Nibel, the gods of dark and light respectively.
Dialog During Gameplay: Most missions have extensive inter-character dialog, normally between the hero (play character) and the two lieutenants fighting with them and sometimes conversation with allied units.
Drop the Hammer: Rubert and Kendall use hammers in combat. Rubert's is greatly oversizes while Kendall's is functionally closer to a polearm.
Easy Logistics: Played straight during combat, your units are comprised of dozens of soldiers, none of whom seem to be carrying any supplies. When you return to camp between missions you can find your troops at their barracks where they, presumably, get plenty to eat and drink.
Elemental Powers: Magic spells and lieutenant abilities can be elemental in nature. Lightning and fire are the most common you'll run into.
Elves Versus Dwarves: Averted. Both are races driven to the brink of extinction, existing only as Protectorates under Hironeiden now, making it easy for them to bond over their shared situation. It is said that they did not get along well in the past, but the dwarves and elves we see in Rupert's campaign are good friends.
Enemy Mine: The characters team up against a shared enemy for the final missions.
Exposition Break: Aside from updating your units this is what world map screen is for, especially in the late game when you would have no idea what's going on without Regnier filling you in on events that happened before most of the characters where born.
Fantastic Racism: Something of a theme. All the races of Bersia have grown to passionately hate each other during previous wars (with the exception of elves and dwarves, curiously enough, who get along very well). This is the reason the all-out catastrophical world war depicted in the game breaks out easily, despite being instigated by an outside force. The nations do not investigate their situations properly, instead believing they are just dealing with The Usual Adversaries, and jumping straight into all-out aggression.
It's the "good guys" who start the war. Even though they've been deceived, it was still humans who instigated the raid on Greyhampton and it was the complete distrust of humans in the words of their dark elven neighbors that kept the war growing more intense.
Similarly, the plans of most of the "bad guys", while ambitious, would keep the world in a comfortable status quo instead of destroying it. Several of them have reasonably sympathetic motives.
Kendal, who is one of the more heroic characters, is working for the Ecclesians, one of the most vile factions. Walter, who pulls a Defector from Decadence on Ecclesia, commits the most atrocities of any of the heroes and ends up unleashing the Sealed Evil in a Can.
God and Satan Are Both Jerks: The world, as it exists at the beginning of the game, is under the control of Nibel, the god of light, but the nations are still divided and its far from peaceful, especially in places like Vellon and Hexter. And when the age changes to the Age of Darkness under Encablosa it just gets worse. The Age of Light is certainly better than the alternative, of course.
God of Evil: Encablossa, as the god of darkness, torments the beings of light whenever the age of the world swings from light into darkness.
Heroes Prefer Swords: Played straight with Gerald, Lucretia, and Regnier all use swords. Averted by Kendal, fights using both a hand mace and a staff long warhammer.
Hero of Another Story: All of the playable characters are this to each other, really. Rupert is the most obvious example, as his journey to gain the support of the elves and dwarves is alluded to in Gerald's campaign, but becomes playable in Heroes.
Hide Your Children: Played straight with the justification that all of the events where characters are visible on screen take place on battle fields. Possibly averted with Thomas, one of Kendall's lieutenants, the youngest character in the game. He fights on the field along with Kendall and can get the crap kicked out of him (though he usually doesn't, being quite skilled as a fighter and a magician).
I Hate You, Vampire Dad: Taken literally. Leinhart doesn't seem to greatly care for his vampiric father, the King of Vellond.
In the Hood/Malevolent Masked Men: Regnier has a large brown hood and short cape. However, the hood casts only a partial shadow. The rest is completely covered by layered metal which completely conceals his face, no even leaving eyes holes or any normal facial features to look at. It's impossible to be sure with the hood but it appears that the "mask" is actually the faceplate of a helmet from which Regnier's massive horns extend.
Level-Map Display: Type 1. Each combat has a map of the available area, used when directing units.
Living Forever Is Awesome: It is according to Regnier. He seems to have actively sought it out previously and regrets it's loss after the Ancient Heart is destroyed.
Made of Iron: Regnier. He traipses around the desert in what amounts to a metal loincloth and a cape and shrugs off whatever comes his way, including Rupert's suicidal final attack with no apparent ill effects apart from annoyance.
Names to Run Away From Really Fast: Regnier, for his in-game world reputation alone. Furthermore, Regnier isn't his real name. Originally Regnier was 'Rick Blood', which probably qualifies as another example.
No Campaign for the Wicked: Averted, you spend a fair amount of time playing as Lucretia, the dark elf, leading the forces of Vellond, who certainly the bad guys until the god of darkness starts destroying the world.
Royals Who Actually Do Something: Leinhart is the Prince of Vellond but he's out in the field kicking ass with Regnier, if you really consider that a constructive use of a noble's time.
Our Elves Are Different: Regular elves are your average fantasy elves, but have very little relevance to the story. Darkelves are one of the main factions, though. They are a nationalist race organized into feuding city-states, they heal while in forests, they shoot three times as a fast as a human and they refer to themselves as High Elves.
Our Ogres Are Hungrier: Played straight. Ogres are noticeably larger than other units on scene and speak in broken fragments.
Our Orcs Are Different: They are shorter and squatter than humans and ruled by ogres. There are no named orc characters in the game but we hear their units deliver some rather dim lines.
"I got axe for jou!"
"Orc riders... ride!"
Our Vampires Are Different: Vellond is ruled by vampires and half-vampires are used as their representatives in dealings with other Vellond races such as the dark elves and the orcs.
Padded Sumo Gameplay: Towards the endgame you may begin to experience this as the enemies become tougher and tougher.
Playing with Fire: Regnier is capable of igniting himself and his sword as a special attack. The fire spreads to whatever he attacks for a short time afterwards.
Point of No Return: It's pretty clear when it's coming, luckily. This is partly because it appears to be the end of the current quest, when you are trying to prevent Walter from destroying the Ancient Heart so you probably aren't expecting to do a lot of backtracking after that point anyway.
Punched Across the Room: Regnier's combos can end with him delivering a straight punch that will stagger or throw back anyone on the receiving end.
Ridiculously Fast Construction: Played straight, differently from other examples. Because the game isn't an RTS the construction doesn't appear on screen but there's nothing stopping you from switching a unit from infantry to cavalry or siege weaponry between missions, even if your in the desert miles from the nearest city.
RPG Elements: You are able to select equipment for your leader and two secondary characters as well as the units as a while.
Run Don't Walk: For a squad focused military game there isn't much marching for the foot troops. You can order them to go slower and keep quiet but by default it's nearly a sprint.
Save The World Climax: Eventually becomes the main quest of the game though it begins metaphorically (saving the human kingdoms) when the head of the church gives you a mission and gets literal after that mission is completed and the god of darkness starts destroying everything.
Sensible Heroes, Skimpy Villains: Played straight. All of the heroic characters wear complete clothing and full body armor. The villainous characters are all Stripperiffic including full dressed Leinhart, who models what appears to be skin tight leather evening wear.
Justified in that the villains are half-vampires and darkelves, who are superhumanly agile and fast, but lack the constitution and strength of humans, dwarves or orcs. When Lucretia's group first encounters heavy human infantry, they are confused why anyone would slow themselves down that much with metal armor, especially when it just makes you vulnerable to lightning magic (which is a very common sight on Bersia's battlefields).
Siege Engines: Human units can employ seige weaponry such as catapults and ballistas.
Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: On the cynical side with a few idealist characters. The game largely feels more cynical with several characters clearly motivated entirely by their own desires. Good people exist, Gerald standing as a prime example, but these people are often forced or ordered to do unpleasantly pragmatic things. Even Gerald, at the end of the first mission, coldly orders his soldiers to take one of the dark elves for interrogation (read, torture) and "kill the rest". There is a god of light, Nibel, who seems to also be the good god of the world. But it's eventually revealed that Nibel had to basically cheat Encablossa to get the current arrangement of the world, which is then put back on the track to darkness due to human action.
Special Attack: Each commander has two lieutenants who not only have their fighting abilities but can be called on to assist with a signature attack during a fight.
Story to Gameplay Ratio: The game falls in the high middle range. While the game has an extensive story, it is often told while playing the game itself in the form of character dialog. However this is intercut with world map "cut scenes" of debate between characters and information exchange which can be quite lengthy and numerous.
Stripperiffic: Any female from Vellond, apparently. Basically every female character and model in the game apart from one. And Regnier as a male example.
The Horde: Basically how the human kingdoms see the orc and ogre tribes, especially after they are united by Regnier into a single organization (the commonwealth of Hexter).
The Usual Adversaries: Played straight with humans and elves fighting orcs, ogres, and dark elves. Averted once Encablossa appears and starts making freakish mutated enemies.
Trap Master: The player can become one whenever they have access to a unit of Sappers.
Uncleanliness Is Next to Ungodliness: Played straight for Hexter. It's not directly mentioned but the ogres and orcs don't look like they smell too great. The same probably holds true for Regnier since he lives with them. Averted for Vellond, where the dark elves and half-vampires seem to find the time to wash up.
Useless Useful Stealth: There are a few sneaking missions in the game, most of which can be easily defeated by taking the enemy upfront instead and supporting with lots of healing. This also gives more XP.
War Is Hell: Perhaps one of the most subtle examples ever. It's become a clichee by now to point out that the regular soldiers you are killing might have family and loved ones too. However, due to the point-of-view mechanics, you actually experience it in this game, seeing the story from both sides and realizing that you're killing the friends of your previous characters.
What Happened to the Mouse?: In-universe example: Regnier's epilogue states that to this day, it is unknown how Ecclesia learned of the Ancient Heart. However, Walter's campaign in Heroes explains this one, Walter was whispered to by Encablossa posing as God, who told him of it and ordered him to find it, causing the Ecclesians to make a secret alliance with the Kaedes in order to obtain the Heart.