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Kingdom Under Fire: Heroes

Korean developer Phantagram returns this autumn with a second helping of its fantasy flavoured action/strategy title and from the demo we've been playing this month, it very much appears to be a case of more.

More playable characters, more varied attacks, more enemies on screen at any time, more online modes and, ultimately, more of the same: which is No Bad Thing.

The first title, KUF: The Crusaders, was a peach and if you overlook Koei's Dynasty Warriors, at the very least brought something fresh to Xbox.

This time around you can play as any one of seven different characters and each has their own story and mission set which intertwines with the paths of the other main characters, offering genuine lifespan enhancement.

You'll recognise some of the fighters from last time out, notably the Goth bird with the interesting dress. She's called Morene. As in Maureen. Jeez, poor cow.

Still, not as bad as being called Walter or Rupert like two of the male Heroes.

Anyhow, the demo, we're informed, is more action-heavy than the planned finished article and so far we've mainly been stomping around large open outdoor areas kicking the crap out of orcs and giant lobsters that are masquerading as scorpions.

Strategy, planning and battlefield multi-tasking will be far more prominent in the full game and we're assured that during the later stages you'll be facing very stiff challenges indeed.

The plot, backstory and language are perhaps a little contrived for some tastes but even if you're not big on your LOTR clones, you still have to admire the mechanics of this title.

At first glance the battlefields look chaotic and the implementation of orders seems confusing but it takes only a matter of minutes to get your head around the tasks facing you in the opening levels.

Play with one of the 'easy' characters (different heroes are assigned different difficulty settings) and the basics of combo-based thwacking, jumping and dodging can be learnt quickly with minimal fuss or frustration while the rest of your troops will get on with fighting without the need for much bossing around.

The strategy aspect is harder to master but an intelligent control system helps you get a handle on things quickly.

Although the scale of the environments and battles is handsome, it's not the slickest of titles graphically and we're digging Spartan Total Warrior's looks more than this (both games being in roughly the same ballpark).

That said, the Sega-published title certainly has a fight on its hands come September.

Kingdom Under Fire: Heroes is out for Xbox in September

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