Title		Realms
Game Type	Strategy
Players		1
Publisher	Virgin
Compatibility	All (1 MB)
HD Installable  Yes with WHDLoad Patch

Realms is a fantasy wargame, apparently a decade in the making. It should
be pointed out that whilst Realms may look like a god-game, like
PowerMonger, Populous, etc, and some reviewers at the time unfortunately
thought it was too, Realms is really more of a fantasy wargame. The
difference is this: In PowerMonger, you micro-manage the lives of your
citizens, whilst in Realms, you control whole Armies and direct your
Empire's economy on a grand scale.

An animated intro sets the scene. You are heir to a small kingdom, on the
verge of out-and-out war with your neighbours. There's some stuff about a
magical doo-dah, but that's just window dressing for the fact that you
magically control your people through a crystal-ball (this is probably
what makes people think "god-game"). There are ten worlds to play, not
counting an "easy" level, each of increasing size and complexity. You
begin each game by first choosing a world, and then selecting which realm
in this world will be yours. Each realm is composed of a different race
and there are six in all - Barbarians, Amazons, Nordics, Elves, Dwarves,
and Orcs. The easy world consists of just 2 realms, Elves and Orcs, and
the worlds grow progressively larger and more complex, until the final
two, which consist of all 6 races.

During the game, you control the military and economic affairs of your
realm. Your realm consists of several cities, and its size will
increase/decrease with the fortunes of war. Realms has 4 basic screens,
the first is the "Fortress", which gives you a complete overview of your
world, and shows your realm, as well as the others, complete with trade
routes and armies. Here you can  set the tax rate of your realm, and a
handy scale lets you know if you're overtaxing your subjects. Time doesn't
progress when you're in the Fortress, so it also makes a useful pause
feature. This ain't no turn based wargame, and things can happen thick and
fast, especially at the start.

Most of the time, you'll be looking at the Playfield. One window shows the
whole world, much like the Fortress. On this map, you position a cursor,
and the area underneath this is shown in the main window. This is rendered
in 3D-isometric style, again, inviting comparison to Powermonger, but the
scale is much larger- you're looking at cities and whole armies. Here, you
issue orders to your armies, to move to specific locations, to garrison
cities, or attack an enemy, simply by clicking on a unit, and then
clicking on its destination. Then, your men (or women, if you're playing
as the Amazons) will decamp, and trot off across the landscape. Your
crystal ball keeps you in touch with what's happened. If an enemy attacks
you, your (ahem) "ball will tinkle", and alert you. Click on your crystal
to move the cursor to the hotspot for you to deal with. A feature handy
for more than just cheap puns.

Battle is the most important feature of Realms. When your armies meet an
enemy, your crystal will alert you. You can either let the battle play out
(not recommended), or click on the crystal to be transported to the
Battlefield, and personally take command.

The Battlefield screen is 3D isometric, like the Playfield. Your troops
are arranged at the bottom right of the screen, dressed in yellow. Your
opponent's army is on the top left edge, in red. Nothing actually happens
until you click on the bugle, giving you time to work out a strategy, and
then the rumble commences. Each of your armies is represented by a cluster
of soldiers, and you issue them with orders to attack, change formation,
fire arrows, or (if things don't go too well) retreat. As the battle
progresses, the bodies will continue to pile up. Two flags represent the
morale of the forces, and will lower if casualties grow too much. Should
this happen, your soldiers might flee the field. Battle continues until
one side or the other is wiped out.

But fighting is only part of the game. You also have to manage your realm.
Clicking on a city in the Playfield will bring up the City screen. This is
dominated by an unique picture of the city in question, and will change
with events. If things are going well, the population are multiplying and
happy, then the city will be large, and prosperous. If plague, famine and
war have hit hard, then your city will be little more than a few hovels.
Additionally, each race has their own distinctive architecture- tall and
elegant castles for the elves, squat, mud buildings for the orcs. On this
screen, you'll need to look after your people. Raise levies, feed the
starving, raise more armies, and generally keep the infrastructure of your
realm stable.

The game will continue until there is only one Realm left, and, obviously,
it's supposed to be yours. The easiest way to reach this goal is to seize
enemy cities and win their people to your cause, rather than simply
looting, burning, and pillaging.

Realms is a very enjoyable, if somewhat simplistic, war/strategy game.
It's fun to play, and with ten different worlds, and multiple realms to
play in each world, you'll get a lot of mileage out of it. My biggest
problem with Realms is that it's too easy. The battles might be hard for a
strategy novice, but anyone who's ever heard of Agincourt will quickly
develop near-unbeatable tactics. The computer's not too smart in handling
the opposing armies- usually they just charge blindly, or attack
piecemeal. I've fought battles in which 4 of my armies have defeated 7 of
the enemy's. And it's not just tactically but strategically the
computer-controlled realms fail. They usually destroy rather than occupy,
and are inept in managing their realms, which often fall apart in time.

I also would've liked to have seen some kind of world creator. It would've
greatly enhanced the game's playability, and I could have offset the ease
of winning by creating some very difficult levels. Still, I can thoroughly
recommend Realms for wargame and strategy fans.

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