Kingdom Conquest 2 Hands-On Preview

In a year of big-name console ports like Jet Set Radio and Crazy Taxi, plus original mobile games based on popular brands like Total War Battles and Sonic Jump, one of Sega’s biggest iOS hits is based on a new IP: Kingdom Conquest. Sega told us that the original freemium game, which combines card-battling, city-building, and dungeon-crawling, now brings in an average of $100 from players. This means that while many users play it for free, there are some big spenders who break the bank trying to build up their virtual city and army.

This week, Sega hopes to replicate that incredible success with Kingdom Conquest 2, which expands on the original game in a few interesting ways. While the basic formula remains the same, minor tweaks to the interface, improved graphics, and new characters make this sequel look a lot more polished.

The first update that we noticed in Kingdom Conquest 2 is the 3D city-building screen, where the formerly 2D village that supports your army has received a total visual overhaul. Like in Apple’s new Maps app, you can use two fingers to alter your view of the city, and watch detailed animation like flowing waterfalls and strolling citizens. However, this view change is limited to just a few degrees.

We were also happy to hear that Kingdom Conquest 2 has added new classes to the dungeon-crawling sequences. To earn new cards for your deck, which translates to more monsters for your army, you’ll have to explore slightly more complex rooms, which are now multi-leveled and introduce environmental hazards like pools of lava. In addition to the original Warrior, Mage, and Barbarian classes, you can now fight with the Ninja and Saint, who each have unique attacks. The engine that powers these third-person combat sequences has been improved, so the characters and dungeons look much better than before.

Plus, the dungeons in Kingdom Conquest 2 will feature boss battles. An early encounter with a dark dragon kicks off the campaign, but you’ll face a few more bosses, like a headless horseman, as you progress. These dungeons can be explored with up to four players, with online play over 3G or Wi-Fi.

Another addition is the battle re-enactment that takes place when your army takes over new territory. Instead of just a page of text, now you’ll be able to watch 2D versions of your cards move and fight on the battlefield.

Kingdom Conquest 2 is one of those rare games that combines multiple game types into one highly compelling package. Its gameplay variety and addictive nature is one of the reasons we gave the original game our Must Have score, and the sequel looks to improve on a lot of little things without changing what worked best. It’ll be out in the US and Europe this Wednesday night, but if you’re in Japan or Singapore, you can download Kingdom Conquest 2 right now.

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