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|By Thorsten Thielen © August 2001, Translation: Christian Hennecke|
One of the computer game classics, which anyone who owned a C64, Amiga, Atari or one of the many other home computers will remember, is "Defender of the Crown". Developed in 1986 by Master Designer Software and published by Cinemaware for a variety of platforms, it quickly evolved into one of the best-known computer games of that time. There existed even a version for the PC, though it was only partially able to create the games athmosphere due to the CGA graphics and PC speaker sound.
UJ Software have taken charge of this classic and with "Crown of Might" they have created a very appealing, modern version of this strategy game.
Fig.1: How the land is divided up
At the end of the 12th century, England is divided into 18 territories (see fig.1) held by Norman and Saxon lords. The game's main objective is to unite the English realm again - preferable under your own reign, of course.
For this end you take the role of one of the four Saxon lords, whom all have their own strenths and weaknesses (see figure 2). Cedric von Rotherwood, for instance, is an excellent leader, which is of advantage when conquering foreign provinces. He's quite good at jousting, too. But he ought to refrain from swordfights as his capabilities in this area are not developed well.
Fig.2: Selection of the game character
In the game's beginning, all opponents (five of the lords are played by the computer) own one territory where their castle is located. Equipped with some money and several soldiers you can now start to expand your property. Using your own gold savings you can recruit soldiers and knights; soldiers are a lot cheaper with one piece of gold per man, but they are considerably inferior to knights (which cost six pieces of gold) in battles. The newly called up parties always are assigned to your garrison that is defending your home castle first. From here they can be transferred to the campaign army that is then sent out for conquest.
Fig.3: Campaign army camp and territory data
First, most of the territories are not owned by one of the noblemen and can be conquered relatively easy (though your army might already suffer losses at this point). But soon all provinces will have been taken by the player and the other lords. Then it is time to get cautious as you may find yourself the loser fast, if you stumble across a hostile army on your campaign. The battle shows what is of importance for victory here: superiority on both the number of soldiers and the own capabilities as a leader. It also shows how wise a decision it is to recruit at least some knights, as a knight can withstand quite a number of normal soldiers.
The fastest way to aquire all the other lords estates is to conquer his home castle; then he has to leave the game and the whole of his lands goes to the conqueror. To attack a castle a minimum of one catapult in the campaign army is required. With the catapult you try to break through the wall of the enemy's fortress and get easier access; something that will work out quite nicely with a smooth touch and after a bit of practicing. Once you have successfully cleared the way, you have to fight against the defenders - then you are lord over the castle and all related lands!
Fig.5: Attacking a castle
Every territory adds to your monthly income; some more, some less. So it is important to gain as many lands as possible, as more land means more income, a larger army, and easier victories.
However, a large army doesn't come with advantages only; the soldiers want to be paid. If you don't have enough money, the unpaid soldiers will be gone with the wind fast. And so a considerable amount of the monthly income from your estates goes directly to your garrison and campaign army.
Fig.6: Financial and army data
Income from your lands is not the only way to get some money: What about raiding another lords castle under cover of the night? But none of your opponents is going to leave his treasure unguarded, of course. You will need some practice in swordfighting, if you want to win fighting the guards and get to the treasure hall! This feature is only available in the full version, by the way. A really good reason for registering as we all are always short on money...
But there is a way other than simple conquest for the brave hero to gain more land: A tournament, held by yourself or one of the other lords, offers the chance to win lands as a price in glorious fights with your lance. This is another event that only registered users will be able to see.
Some special (mostly inconvenient though) events add more surprises to the game: sometimes your gold transport will get robbed or you lose half of your income; sometimes hostile saboteurs destroy your catapults; but with a bit of luck an unkown supporter helps you by donating some money.
The graphical design of the game all in all is very appealing: Beautifully drawn graphics and raytraced images create a good and moody atmosphere. The game has been designed for a resolution of 640x480 pixels; you can play if a PM window or in fullscreen, with the latter offering the choice between a small image with an additional margin or a view adapted to the actual screen-size.
Fig.7: Your men on the river
Sound effects are somewhat sparse, but always suitable. The MIDI music that is always running in the background is of a style that fits well into the mediaeval atmosphere. However, you should use a soundcard with a good wavetable or the Timidity plug-in to be able to enjoy the music. Otherwise, it is going to strain your nerves.
"Crown of Might's" systemrequirements are very low. The game runs well even on fast 486 machines. DIVE support is required though. This should be no problem for Warp 4 users since it includes DIVE, but those who still use Warp 3 may need to get it depending on their fixpak level.
One point of criticism: During the game CPU load went up to 100% on all test machines. There was no impact on system responsiveness, though; other programs performance was not harmed in any way. What remains, is the waste of energy. I haven't received an answer from the authors yet.
A positive thing to note is the extensive and well-written online help that even adds to putting you in the games mood by its style of writing. [Translator's note: The latter is mainly true for the German version only.] A few more details about the tournament would have been nice, however. If you still have questions after reading the help, visit the author's home page for more hints.
"Crown of Might" is an entertaining and very beautifully designed game, and a good investment not only for fans of "Defender of the Crown".
Note: There is a special offer for owners of the TTC'8 CD to register "Crown of Might" for a reduced price of DEM 20,-.
Crown of Might
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