Spirit of Excalibur

Title		Spirit of Excalibur
Game Type	RPG
Company		Virgin Mastertronic
Players		1
Compatibility	OCS (AGA with patch)
HD Installable	Yes
Submission	keeno - keen@ulster.net

Spirit of Excalibur came out around 1990, sorta in the first half of
Virgin Mastertronic's golden years, along with other greats like
Wonderland and KGB. it takes place around the mid-500s AD, just after the
legendary King Arthur has been slain at the battle of Camlann and his
great empire lies broken, threatened from abroad by Picts and Saxons, and
from within by traitorous lords and barons.. as well as by much more
dangerous darker powers, and the beasts they command.

Your initial role is of Constantine, the successor to the crown, and your
goal is no less than to reunite the empire and to destroy any who oppose
you.. action takes place on 2 levels: a scene level, that is a massive
scrolling god's eye view of Olde Britaine, with bits of France and
Ireland; and an action level, that is a standard side-scrolling view of
your PCs (Player Character) and the NPCs (Non-Player Character).. from the
scene level, you can control the paths your PCs take, including the armies
they control, and who they meet along the way (and sometimes who they
don't).. from the action level you can control how your PCs interact with
the NPCs, and also with each other.. this includes the usual talking,
fighting, stealing, trading, exploring etc.. the action level can occur
anywhere your PCs are on the scene level; be it any of the medieval
villages, towns or cities that are the highlights of the game OR anywhere
enroute to them; whether it is the beach, the forest, a lake, a cave, the
highlands or just plain countryside etc.. the multitudes of action levels
are so vast that SOE has a real taste of limitlessness that I haven't felt
again until //Diablo//.. there is also a special third level too; the mass
combat level, which is a bird's eye view of a battlefield, where you can
control your armies and how they fight against your enemies (whether it is
another army, 10 armies or just 1 man).. although you control only
Constantine at first, any character loyal to the crown comes under your
power.. this could be an army, any of the knights of the roundtable, or
even Merlin.. true, true, many of the figures of legend are there:
Lancelot, Palomides, Bors, Belvedere etc.. in fact, your enemy is none
other than the wickedest witch of them all, Morgan le Fay.. since SOE is a
role playing game, it has the usual RPG attributes: Strength, dexterity,
constitution, faith, magic etc.. values for which change with experience
in combat and magic, potions, special objects and natural
predispositions.. PCs also have moral and spiritual beliefs that affect
their relationship with the NPCs and each other.. infact, the AI engine
is so powerful, that playing the same quests with different characters
will yield very different results!!

The graphics of this game are excellent AND extensive; a 10 all around..
whether its a moss covered waterfall, the rotted ruins of a castle, the
darkest inner chambers of Dover or spiritual mass at Glastonbury; all 2.5
megs are rendered to perfection, and atmospheric animations abound.. the
sound consists of the usual sound FX as well as a score of many ambient
melodies that are both varied and bear the flavor of medieval period
music.. however it has a distinctly //Deluxe Music// analog feel, one that
we normally associate with early 90s PC games (which SOE was also produced
for..) lacking the Amiga's slightly richer digital feel.. this is a minor
complaint though, and i still give this game a well earned 9 for sound..
now we come to gameplay.. good graphics, good sound.. good gameplay??.. We
all know too few games hold those three attributes.. not to mention those
critics who thought SOE was "a bit slow moving.." and the fighting "too
automatic.." too which i reply: "Methinks you are mistaken".. SOE, my
all-time fave game (until Vengeance of Excalibur), was easily the most
underrated game on the Amiga.. why?? My guess is because it was released
for both the PC and the Amiga, and so was looked at as a PC game, the same
way Hollywood looks at foreign film.. after all, it was no plotless
multi-parallax-scrolling monotonous and utterly impossible //Shadow of the
Beast//, the same way //The Good, The Bad and The Ugly// is no //Wild Wild
West//.. for 3 floppies this game was huge, it took me about a week to
complete, and everything in it clicked!! the puzzles, the combat, the
magic, the politics etc.. everything was tricky and tense, entertaining
and enjoyable, a very fun 9.5.

So what am i saying?? B u y   t h i s   g a m e .. no side-shooter where
you can't beat the stupid end-boss's giant toe without cheating, can give
you the pleasure of completing just 1 of the many, many quests in SOE: Like
killing an enchanted giant; a giant that is defeating your knights; a
giant that is destroying your allies; a giant that possesses the legendary
Gaunts d'Poeir - an object that would give any of your knights the
strength of 10 men.. this is very good stuff.. enjoy.

Graphics: 10
Sound: 9
Gameplay: 9.5

Spirit of Excalibur: 9.5

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