Title Realms Game Type Strategy Players 1 Publisher Virgin Compatibility All (1 MB) HD Installable Yes with WHDLoad Patch Submission firstname.lastname@example.org Review Realms is a fantasy wargame, apparently a decade in the making. It should be pointed out that whilst Realms may look like a god-game, like PowerMonger, Populous, etc, and some reviewers at the time unfortunately thought it was too, Realms is really more of a fantasy wargame. The difference is this: In PowerMonger, you micro-manage the lives of your citizens, whilst in Realms, you control whole Armies and direct your Empire's economy on a grand scale. An animated intro sets the scene. You are heir to a small kingdom, on the verge of out-and-out war with your neighbours. There's some stuff about a magical doo-dah, but that's just window dressing for the fact that you magically control your people through a crystal-ball (this is probably what makes people think "god-game"). There are ten worlds to play, not counting an "easy" level, each of increasing size and complexity. You begin each game by first choosing a world, and then selecting which realm in this world will be yours. Each realm is composed of a different race and there are six in all - Barbarians, Amazons, Nordics, Elves, Dwarves, and Orcs. The easy world consists of just 2 realms, Elves and Orcs, and the worlds grow progressively larger and more complex, until the final two, which consist of all 6 races. During the game, you control the military and economic affairs of your realm. Your realm consists of several cities, and its size will increase/decrease with the fortunes of war. Realms has 4 basic screens, the first is the "Fortress", which gives you a complete overview of your world, and shows your realm, as well as the others, complete with trade routes and armies. Here you can set the tax rate of your realm, and a handy scale lets you know if you're overtaxing your subjects. Time doesn't progress when you're in the Fortress, so it also makes a useful pause feature. This ain't no turn based wargame, and things can happen thick and fast, especially at the start. Most of the time, you'll be looking at the Playfield. One window shows the whole world, much like the Fortress. On this map, you position a cursor, and the area underneath this is shown in the main window. This is rendered in 3D-isometric style, again, inviting comparison to Powermonger, but the scale is much larger- you're looking at cities and whole armies. Here, you issue orders to your armies, to move to specific locations, to garrison cities, or attack an enemy, simply by clicking on a unit, and then clicking on its destination. Then, your men (or women, if you're playing as the Amazons) will decamp, and trot off across the landscape. Your crystal ball keeps you in touch with what's happened. If an enemy attacks you, your (ahem) "ball will tinkle", and alert you. Click on your crystal to move the cursor to the hotspot for you to deal with. A feature handy for more than just cheap puns. Battle is the most important feature of Realms. When your armies meet an enemy, your crystal will alert you. You can either let the battle play out (not recommended), or click on the crystal to be transported to the Battlefield, and personally take command. The Battlefield screen is 3D isometric, like the Playfield. Your troops are arranged at the bottom right of the screen, dressed in yellow. Your opponent's army is on the top left edge, in red. Nothing actually happens until you click on the bugle, giving you time to work out a strategy, and then the rumble commences. Each of your armies is represented by a cluster of soldiers, and you issue them with orders to attack, change formation, fire arrows, or (if things don't go too well) retreat. As the battle progresses, the bodies will continue to pile up. Two flags represent the morale of the forces, and will lower if casualties grow too much. Should this happen, your soldiers might flee the field. Battle continues until one side or the other is wiped out. But fighting is only part of the game. You also have to manage your realm. Clicking on a city in the Playfield will bring up the City screen. This is dominated by an unique picture of the city in question, and will change with events. If things are going well, the population are multiplying and happy, then the city will be large, and prosperous. If plague, famine and war have hit hard, then your city will be little more than a few hovels. Additionally, each race has their own distinctive architecture- tall and elegant castles for the elves, squat, mud buildings for the orcs. On this screen, you'll need to look after your people. Raise levies, feed the starving, raise more armies, and generally keep the infrastructure of your realm stable. The game will continue until there is only one Realm left, and, obviously, it's supposed to be yours. The easiest way to reach this goal is to seize enemy cities and win their people to your cause, rather than simply looting, burning, and pillaging. Realms is a very enjoyable, if somewhat simplistic, war/strategy game. It's fun to play, and with ten different worlds, and multiple realms to play in each world, you'll get a lot of mileage out of it. My biggest problem with Realms is that it's too easy. The battles might be hard for a strategy novice, but anyone who's ever heard of Agincourt will quickly develop near-unbeatable tactics. The computer's not too smart in handling the opposing armies- usually they just charge blindly, or attack piecemeal. I've fought battles in which 4 of my armies have defeated 7 of the enemy's. And it's not just tactically but strategically the computer-controlled realms fail. They usually destroy rather than occupy, and are inept in managing their realms, which often fall apart in time. I also would've liked to have seen some kind of world creator. It would've greatly enhanced the game's playability, and I could have offset the ease of winning by creating some very difficult levels. Still, I can thoroughly recommend Realms for wargame and strategy fans.