The initial view of Lords of the Realm will cause any serious strategy war gamer to salivate and immediately withdraw from human contact (unless, of course, the person is a potential opponent). The detail, background and presentation of the game is so professional and well done that the obvious care and dedication of the designers and their staffs shines through from every aspect. The simple goal of the game is for you, a noble lord of Wales or England, to out-manage up to five opponents with enough skill to be crowned King of England. With that goal always in mind, the designers loaded the game (and game play) with an astonishing amount of innovative and player-controlled activity and fully integrated decision making power. The result is a game that, at the time of release in 1994, far exceeds the accomplishments of most (if not all) games in the genre.
The amount of detail and the level of player involvement in every aspect of the game is far too reaching to cover in this short review. You begin at a very unpretentious level of existence and through detailed planning and careful monitoring attempt to build up your land holdings and realm of influence in all areas of medieval county life. Your starting responsibilities begin modestly but require close scrutiny in such topics as food availability (production), distribution of labor to farm lands that can accommodate grain, cows or sheep, taxation, conscription, population, mental outlook, immigration, revolts and so forth. Additionally, you'll need to keep tight control over marauding bandits, ruthless outlaws and enemy armies that can bring your kingdom quickly to ruin. The symbol of power begins with construction of your castle and the means with which to defend it as you build your army strength up to competitive levels. Aspects of medieval warfare take on increasingly important roles in the form of sieges, battles and defense as you control the levels of specific units with varying degrees of experience and expertise (e.g., archers, swordsmen, knights, etc.).
Game play in Lords of the Realm is turn-based with each turn representing one of the four seasons (spring, summer, autumn, winter). Production is linked to the weather-based seasons but is affected by external and random events like drought, floods and barren fields. This is just one example of the wondrous detail found in the game. Others include managing your treasury, supplies, trade, resource management (mining, quarrying, wood gathering, making arms and armor to equip your troops), labor distribution, castle building and management, peasant and mercenary control, county control, real time battle and directing your forces in the name of expansion and defense. A wonderfully integrated system of charts and graphs helps you keep up with all the activity and allows you to keep an eye on your opponents through various significant comparisons. Whatever faults can be attributed to the game's mechanics or contents are almost uniformly minor and in most instances an error of omission. From structure to game play, Lords of the Realm has notched its own place in wargaming history.
Graphics: VGA-limited but still better than average.
Sound: Professional voice acting, good music, very tidy package.
Enjoyment: Any serious, strategically inclined war gamer and adventurous world-builder with delusions of world-class resource and people management skills, should find the game totally irresistible. Be prepared to sink vast amounts of playing time in this absorbing and addictive game.
Replay Value: If at first you don't succeed (and you probably won't), try, try again. And keep trying. Options and modes of play ensure healthy replay value.
The English throne lies empty in 1268 A.D. You and 5 lords are locked in a struggle for the crown. Reap the benefits of successful feudal governing, castle-building, castle-sieging, and land battle to conquer your rivals and claim the kingdom.
You must keep your serfs fed and happy. Then assign them to farming, herding, building, military and other tasks. Design your own castles or build them using actual historical blueprints. Then lay siege to your neighbors' castles and fight out land battles in tactical detail.
People who downloaded Lords of The Realm have also downloaded:
Lords of The Realm 2, Lords of the Realm III, Lords of the Realm 2: Siege Pack, Lords of Magic: Special Edition, Master of Orion, Machiavelli The Prince (a.k.a. Merchant Prince), Master of Orion 2: Battle at Antares, Heroes of Might and Magic 3
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