A spiritual descendant of War in Middle Earth, Spirit of Excalibur uses the same engine to tell the tale of what befell Camelot after the death of King Arthur.
You play the role of the regent who holds the throne while chaos spreads through Britain. The game is broken into a number of episodes, which carry the overall plot of trying to restore Arthur's kingdom to some semblance of what it once was. Early episodes involve gathering the Knights of the Round Table, who have broken their fellowship. Because of their general distrust and dislike of certain other members, many knights will only return if asked by certain people and/or are given the correct incentive. Ultimately, you will wage a war on the sons of Mordred, who vie for the same throne their father did and stop the machinations of Morgan LeFay
The game is played on two different levels. The first is a real time map where groups move about from place to place. At any time (or when a group encounters another or a place of importance) you can switch to a 'scene' level, which is a side-view of the group currently highlighted. Here you can pick up, drop, and manipulate quest items.
Somewhere around 800 A.D. there supposedly lived a legendary king - King Arthur. His power to rule his realm came from the sword Excalibur that Arthur got from the lake and tossed it back to the lake after he was slain.
And this is the time you come in. You play a knight by the name of Constantine and it is your duty to protect and reunite all the land once owned by good king Arthur. Unfortunately not all of the knights acknowledge your reign, thus you must sooner or later prove your supremacy over them.
At the beginning of the game you are at York and need to return to Camelot. On your way you shall meet some people and will be able to interact with them (to some point). If they choose to challenge you to a duel you may accept or decline (I suggest you accept and win - it does not reflect well on you if you dare not fight some people that should be subordinate to you). While fighting you can leave everything up to the computer (automatic mode) or you can take command of the character yourself. Or you may simply listen to what people have to tell you (or maybe even humbly ask of you). Listen to the people carefully, because they can tell you of the problems that need to be solved in your land, or can give you valuable clues. However there are some that would like to mislead you.
It is only after you reach Camelot that the real game begins (there are four quests after you come to Camelot). Now you are at the round table and you get some task. You need to select the knight leading the quest and you can assign his party to accompany him. This being a RPG game the skills of the knights will improve over time. Every time you start a new quest you will see the round table and get a task you must fulfill. It can happen that a certain knight dies in a quest, but this doesn't necessarily mean that you will loose the game. There are only some people you can't afford to lose (such as Merlin or Constantine).
You also get to command armies in battle (or you are just forced to stand by and watch if none of the armies is acknowledging your command). In order to gain command of some armies, you usually need to perform a deed that will make the knight follow you (like rescue a maiden), but some will only follow if you already have the support of a respectful knight. For the battle you may also use magic. Magic can be useful while trying to get an hones answer from someone as well, but remember that you have limited capabilities for the use of magic (bigger spells also need some ingredients). The battles require quite a lot of strategy as well, but the strategic element is slightly hindered due to the fact that you cannot control more then one force at a time (*hint* it's always easier to defend then to attack - especially if you have some defensive devices, such as walls).
As you can see from the screenshots you have a map of England that you off course travel on. There are certain towns, cathedrals, castles, villages and other locations on it. At these locations you meet different people who may hinder you on your quest or help you further. Therefore make sure you explore the map thoroughly.
The graphics of the game are nice and do create a certain atmosphere, although it's the Ad-Lib music that really makes you feel like in the early middle ages. The game is well worth playing although I am not a great fan of the genre. But be warned if you chose to play it. This game can be overwhelming at some points. You need to control many characters simultaneously in real time (it confused me so much I needed a walkthrough).
The game is entirely controlled with the mouse (although you can run the install file and reset the controls - so you can use the joystick or the keyboard as an alternative). You can also change graphic and sound settings (but why would you do that? They are optimized now).
All in all I give this game a 4 for over all nicely made game with graphics and sounds that make you feel a certain historical era. The story line itself is not weak either. After all - how many games can you play, that put you in the shoes of the successor of the great King Arthur?
Following on the heels of War in the Middle Earth come the second World Builder game from Synergistic Software, this time based on the intriguing legend of King Arthur. Set in the times immediately after his mysterious death, you control knights of the round table as they hunt King Arthur's missing sword, "Excalibur" to vanquish evil lords and unify England. The game is fun to play, but puzzles (if any) are easy, combat is very simplistic, and the dialogues are a bit too wordy and tedious.
People who downloaded Spirit of The Excalibur have also downloaded:
Vengeance of The Excalibur, Spirit of Adventure, Warriors of Legend, Spirit Engine, The, Spells of Gold, Spiritual Warfare, Stonekeep, Ultima 7: The Black Gate
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