There are a few things you need to know about Celtic Tales: Balor of the Evil Eye before you leap into this complex game that has at its roots Celtic mythology. One, the game is very long with only six save slots so plan on a significant time investment as well as an exercise in patience . Two, the game is geared toward the veteran gamer rather than beginners. Three, it's definitely a slow starter but builds in intensity and satisfaction. Four, success will only be achieved by the player who can consistently juggle and maintain effective levels of military and economic requirements and has the foresight to keep the big picture firmly in mind while attending to a myriad of details.
Celtic Tales: Balor of the Evil Eye is a hybrid of several genres. There are shades of role-playing, empire-building, wargaming and at its core, strategic decision making. The first objective is to achieve sufficient power and a loyal following of various Celtic tribes of Eire and become High Ruler of the land. The ultimate goal is defeat of Balor, leader of the Fomor army which can be attempted only after beating his second in command, Connan, and gaining the Gae Bolga, a deadly spear with unusual properties. A successful journey to achieve this seemingly simple goal requires a complex mix of management techniques and skills as you start from the humble beginnings as leader of a single province and through accumulation of wealth, respect (influence) and most importantly, land, become strong enough to take on the main antagonist. The key to this success is in the details. Only through exploration of neighboring provinces will you learn about the world around you and be able to absorb these territories through force, diplomacy (persuasion) or both. Meanwhile, you're responsible for molding your home province(s) into a viable power by not only enhancing cultural amenities but also by controlling your heroes who are assigned menial tasks (e.g., chopping wood, mining, farming, manufacturing) which lead to increased levels of military effectiveness and might. Once expansion begins through either peaceful (recommended if possible) or forceful means, all kingdoms under your control must be defended from possible invaders. With nearly twenty territories to assimilate, the logistics of managing all of them quickly becomes a difficult and time consuming task. Far from being a bad aspect, this long struggle to position yourself to tackle the final quest of defeating Balor's forces is worth the price of admission alone.
The interface is extremely intuitive which allows the player full concentration on the many levels of detailed and complex game dynamics and somewhat offsets the lack of flashy graphics. That's not to say that game control is always easy. Later stages of game management can be difficult due to the sheer volume of requirements. Although Celtic Tales: Balor of the Evil Eye is filled with a demanding level of detail management, seeing a successful long term strategic plan come to fruition in this mythically based fantasy world is ultimately rewarding.
Graphics: In a nutshell, the graphics are drab and uninspiring. Fortunately, most gamers will become so immersed in playing the game they'll be too busy to worry about it. Celtic Tales: Balor of the Evil Eye is proof positive that not all games require flashy eye candy to be effective.
Sound: Another area that is no more than adequate at best. Thankfully, the designers obviously put most of their efforts into game play which in this case is justified by the end result.
Enjoyment: Full player involvement at both the detail and 'big picture' levels is nicely integrated. In fact, the synergy evident in the way the smallest details mesh together serves as a solid foundation for the inexorable push to the climactic confrontation. Most strategists will embrace the challenges of molding many small steps into a hero's march to victory.
Replay Value: Strategic in-game decision making coupled with an initial selective choice of hero (champion) from one of eighteen possibilities, each with individual qualities and abilities, insures credible replays.
Finally the champion long awaited by the Goddess Danu, has arrived. The people of the island of Eire (Ireland) have long suffered from the curses the evil Formors and their leader Balor, thus are in need of a High King to unite the scattered tribes.
To accomplish this, the player will descend from the heavens to Eire and pick a guise from 9 champions available. Gain respect of the other tribes of Eire through diplomacy and war. Unite them to become High King of Eire and finally defeat Balor once and for all!
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