Title Lord of the Realm AGA (Second Review) Publisher Impressions (1994) Game Type Strategy Players 1-6 HD Installable Yes Compatibility AGA only - Requires 4Mb RAM (ECS version also available) Submission John Burns (firstname.lastname@example.org) Profiled Reviewer Review Although generally designated a strategy game I'd say it is more a management sim as this is what you will spend most of the game doing. The only real strategy, of which I have some doubts, is in the manual control of battles. Being an AGA game it utilises 256 colour screens and although I haven't seen the ECS version I would imagine that apart from a reduction in colours the game will play the same though doubtless more slowly without at least an 020. The aim is to take control of all the counties in England and Wales thereby becoming Lord of the Realm (therefore, wouldn't it have been simpler to call it King?). You start the game with the usual picking of difficulty settings etc. and are given a starting territory. Here, comes my first gripe. Of the 30 or so counties there are only the same 6 in which you can start so once you learn some of the management lessons/got to know the game a bit you can use this oversight to your advantage. The main map screen takes you to a close up view of your county which shows pretty little sprites of corn waving in the wind and cattle and sheep ruminating depending on what you actually are farming of course. Clicking on the county screen brings you to the management menus for that individual county and lets you manipulate it's production, agriculture and building status by allocating manpower to individual tasks from your population. Once satisfied with your choices it's a case of ending your turn and waiting for the next season to roll by. Control using the mouse is simple enough either by clicking on the main screen or by the various icons used throughout. This is all very well and good but where I feel the game is let down is in the tedium which all this management entails. Okay there is a steward offered to you when you have a couple of counties under your control but as an assistant he has some serious shortcomings (his allocation of manpower is such an example). This means you basically have to check each county yourself, which sort of negates his whole raison d'etre and the fact you are paying for his poor services. Whilst it doesn't take long to check a couple of counties, as your realm grows this problem becomes more and more time consuming and, quite frankly, irritating. This is certainly a problem which should have been spotted by the play testers and fixed before release, so no excuses. As mentioned there is some strategy involved in the battle sections. Here you can either choose to have the battles resolved automatically or take manual control. Given the fact that the automatic mode always results in either you taking heavier casualties than manual mode or in your being defeated I have to doubt the AI involved. Okay there are also a couple of bugs/oversights which make it easier for you to win in manual mode but forgetting these you still can triumph at less cost. Apart from these battles there is also the opportunity to lay siege to a castle in which you either decide to blockade them or actively build and attack the castle with siege engines. Again I have doubts about the AI here for whilst I can see the sense of your taking casualties in directly attacking the castle walls how come you also take casualties when utilising more indirect weapons such as catapults. I can see the point if the catapult broke and injured your troops but since you don't have to rebuild a catapult then this doesn't equate. There are many other annoyances with the game such as each and every county having the ability for equal resource production Sorry but this is ludicrous to suggest that a predominantly mountainous county can produce the same as one with mostly arable land. The fact that other counties seem able to build up armies and castles very early on in the game long before you have either the resources, manpower or money to reciprocate is another. Also, why can't you use your foresters, quarriers, etc. to temporarily help out with the harvest without losing their experience levels. There are many others but I'm getting bored and feeling somewhat guilty of being over critical now so I'll leave it at that. From the foregoing you may have surmised that I hate the game. Well, actually I don't, though nowadays I tend to only play it to the point where I control about half the counties, as after this it is just tedious. Graphically it is probably the finest strategy game on the Amiga and is undoubtedly a well produced product with good documentation. However, in spite of all the nice touches I just feel the overall product is marred by inclusion of too much micro management. My decision therefore is that it is a game which whilst having it's moments is denied being a classic by having too many silly flaws and attempting to do too much, in a similar way to Campaign 2. Hmmmm, if only they'd asked me or one of the regular AGDB reviewers to beta test them. Oh well, C'est la vie.