Mod DB Review
Pirates Vikings and Knights returns, polished to near perfection. Prepare yourself for the most intense, action-packed battle of your life!
In the midst of a modding scene ruled by realism and unoriginality, Pirates Vikings and Knights II breaks away from the norm and comes as exactly the kind of fun and imaginative mod we love to see. The idea is simple: pit three radically different teams in a series of action-packed matches to the death. Whether you choose to join the agile pirates, the fearsome vikings or the noble knights, you'll be loaded up with a host of deadly weapons and an opportunity to perfect the teams' strengths.
Pirates Vikings and Knights II is made up of four game modes, with an additional five planned in future releases. This is a huge number of modes that boosts the lasting appeal of the mod. Too many mods these days merely include a single deathmatch mode that severly damages the lasting player base, which will soon grow tired of the familiar gameplay. The first mode found in Pirates Vikings and Knights II is Booty. A Booty level is scattered with treasure chests, which must be hunted down and kept at a team's base. Each team has a countdown timer which accelerates as more and more chests come under the team's possession. Once this timer hits zero, the team with the most chests achieves victory. Booty brings a nice balance of offense and defense, offering a deep teamwork based experienced.
The second mode is Booty Tag, which is nearly identical to Booty, but includes only a single treasure box. The next mode is Territory, which drops the treasure boxes all together, but keeps the same timer mechanic. The timer will drain when certain teams hold vital command posts on the map. Lastly is a standard team deathmatch mode.
Not only are there lots of modes, but they are each tons of fun to play. Each game mode encourages cooperation in order to reach a goal, something that so many mods fail in. Rarely is there one player who is dominating, but instead players must work together to seize the treasure or territory and protect their teammates as they return to base. I truly enjoyed the gamemodes,and due to their quanity and depth, I have no doubt that I will be keeping Pirates Vikings and Knights II installed for a long, long, time.
Being a remake of the original Half-Life mod, Pirates Vikings and Knights II uses similar maps wrapped up in the new advances of Valve's Source engine to create some truly breathtaking views. Pirates Vikings and Knights II is one of the best looking Source mods I've seen in terms of level design and overall graphical beauty. The levels are made up of a mix of architecture from the three different teams, so you will set your eyes on castles, ports, and temples as you play through the game. The models lack some of the realism found in the maps to the disappointment of many fans. For example, the pirate model could be dirtied up a bit to look more combat-hardened and I've blinded my eyes on multiple occasions due to the knight's overly-shiny armor. But, generally, they maintain the colorful, vivid graphical style.
As well as being visually impressive, the levels also are well done gameplay wise. The maps offer a variety of side passages and ambush points to explore while never feeling overly centralized. There are always a variety of areas in play at any given point in a match, which makes impressive use of the underlying map structure. Underground passages and tall towers lend a new level to the gameplay. It isn't uncommon to run through a door to shoot a viking, only to be downed by a knight firing his crossbow from above.
However, despite all the praise I've given it, Pirates Vikings and Knights II is still far from perfect. Seeing as it is still in the beta stage, there is a large number of bugs waiting to be fixed. Perhaps the largest problem I've noticed is the argument over balance. No matter which server you join, there are players spamming the chat and declaring that their team is at some disadvantage. While in truth, many are just whining because they can't win. In my own personal experience, it seems as though the knights have a distinct advantage, since they win the majority of the Booty matches.
Also, the melee combat suffers from some of the usual problems you get when you mix first person shooters and sword fighting. It just feels repetitive and shallow. Most duels involve one player hopping in and out and slashing, back and fourth until one player inevitably falls over. The result is usually some kind of ugly dance where one player comes out dead, or another runs for his life. This is certainly a downfall for a melee-focused mod such as Pirates Vikings and Knights II. Fortunately these moments are somewhat salvaged by the upgraded combat system, where you can raise your shield and sword for a parry to free you of these ackward situations. A variety of movement influenced sword and axe attacks also helps spice up the combat a bit and keep it from becoming too bland to cope with.
One aspect of combat that impressed and suprised me is the successful implementation of ranged weaponry. It seems that many mods that use both melee and projectile weapons usually overcompensate for the ranged weaons, making swords all but obsolete. Pirates Vikings and Knights II on the other hand, hit the exact balance making both kinds of weapons extremely useful.
If you were annoyed with the gravity gun's network lag, you are going to be pretty damn frustrated with the lag in Pirates Vikings and Knights II. It is nowhere near the worst I've ever seen, but the melee combat can feel quite jerky. Often it will freeze up for a split second, only to resume with your body strewn across the ground, leaving you to wonder just what the hell happened.
What amazes me the most about Pirates Vikings and Knights II is the fact that the mod in its current state only includes less then half of the planned content. This means that this perfectly solid, fun mod is still far from complete. In the future, Pirates Vikings and Knights II is going to include five more classes per team, five new game modes and many more maps. I can hardly imagine how awesome this mod will be in the next release. It is excellent proof of the power of the "release early and often" public relations strategy more and more mods are beginning to use.
Bottom line, though, is that Pirates Vikings and Knights II is a fantastic multiplayer experience. It certainly has its bugs, but none that cannot be overlooked. Even in such an early form as it is, it's solid and entertaining. The future promises even more content, possibly solidifying it as one of the greatest Half-Life 2 mods to date. I would highly reccommend this mod to anyone who enjoys something original, engaging, or just plain fun.
(+) Plenty of game modes
(+) Graphically impressive
(+) Fun Weapons
(+) Large amount of planned content
(+) Lasting appeal
(-) Melee combat needs some work
(-) Lots of server lag
(-) Balance issues