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SummaryA surprisingly fun game (both turn-based and real-time)
The GoodThe interface was really easy - think back to high school economics explained as "guns and butter". You manipulate slider bars to decide what your kingdom will do (build farms, herd cattle, make weapons, mine iron or stone, etc.) There was also a more "in depth" view of what your people were doing, so you could allocate them based on a more numerical approach. In the real-time portion of the game, you "lasso" your men (like Windows icons), and click where you want them to go (or attack).
The background music was OK, and it changed when you were actually fighting. The characters made noises (a la WarCraft 2) that were unique and entertaining.
There was enough of a variation of weapons and armor to be fairly accurate. Pikemen were slow, crossbowmen were slower and shorter range than archers (but more deadly). Siege weapons made for a fun game, too.
There was also a travelling merchant you could sell and buy goods to.
The ability to add to your forces already seiging a castle.
Moats around castles were entertaining.
The BadSurprisingly a lot (most of it can be overlooked, though).
The slider-bar interface had a more "in depth" view to it, though I often found one or two people standing around doing nothing. Why they weren't automatically allocated, I'll never understand.
Graphically the game was a bit lacking. I think it was an early adopter of DirectX (3.0, if I recall), and it showed. Cut-scenes were grainy and ugly. The whole game requires you change your desktop to 256 colors (or you suffer from color interpolation). The real-time portions were jittery, too. The developers made huge battlefields, then made the characters run so fast it made you sick to try to follow them. Even the intro was a bit off in the timing department.
There really wasn't much of a story line (conquer the kingdom), but I'm not really sure how you could have made one fit this game.
Without the add-on pack, there were only 5 types of "castles".
I found it annoying that when I sold off all my cows, it didn't tell me I still had a farm or two devoted to cattle herding. It would have been nice to either change these automatically to grain, or at least tell me I had some left over.
The Bottom LineIt's biggest selling point is that it's a million times easier than turn-based and god-games like Civ2 or SimCity, and has some fun elements like WarCraft 2. It doesn't live up to any of those games in terms of sheer greatness, but if you're looking for something in the middle, this is it. There's really no micro-management, just basic management.
For all it's faults, it's a really fun game. I picked it up for $25 when it was fairly new, and now I see it for $10 or so (if at all). It's definitely worth it.
There is some replay value, but keep in mind that different scenarios are just that - there aren't any new toys to play with. Basically as the game progresses they throw more at you to see if you can handle it.