Title		StarLord
Game Type	Action Strategy
Players		1
Compatibility	500+, 600, 1200
Company		Microprose/Third Millenium Software (1993)
HD Installable	Yes
Submission	Chris Lennard

StarLord is one of those games produced when Microprose was designing its
software specifically with the PC in mind and would then downgrade them
to work on the A500. Its a strategy game that is set in the confines of
space in the far future, however suprisingly its a Microprose strategy
game without the presence of the genre maestro Sid Meier - and it shows in
many respects.

You are a Starlord of a galactic family like many others with your own
planet as your possesion - or what is termed here as your base star. This
is your sole main possesion and is the source for all your income and
wealth.You also possess  your own fleet of starships which you lead with
your own ship;  your Capital Ship. With this you also travel to other Base
stars of your or your rivals. The universe you live in is a Galactic
Empire divided up between numerous families that vary in size and
strength. Ruler of all that presides is the Galactic Emperor/Empress to
whom all Starlords answer to and aspire ultimately to overthrow!

You start off as a mere Lord/Lady in rank and must rise up througth the
position of Earl/Countess, Duke/Duchess and King/Queen  before you can
challenge for the galactic throne. As you rise up the ranks you not only
increase your wealth and influence but also gain ever more illustrious and
powerful Base Stars and Capital Ships.

Naturally enough, as with all things in life, size matters. To get anywhere
in this game you need an ever expanding fleet of starships to challenge and
defeat your rival Starlords. You have two main fleets; your Battle fleet
for offensive manouveres and your Planetry Defence Fleet which you use to
defend your base star.  Your Battle fleet consists of your aforementioned
Capital Ship and then is made up mainly of Starfighters that, like your
Capital ship upgrade with your elevation in rank, and Mercenary
Interceptors that are standard whatever rank you possess. All these need
to be equipped out of your own pocket with your own resources so it is
important to keep supplies up for your fleet otherwise you'll be repeating
Operation Barbarossa! Your planetary defences draw their resources from
the adjacent base star so as such require less attention. This consists of
your battlemoon which is an artificial satellite fortress that orbits your
base star and your fleet of gunships.

To get all this, of course, requires money, and you can do this in two ways;
peacefully or by waging war. Your base star is actually a producer of
specific goods such as food, water, fuel, weapons etc and you can sell
these at an inflated price to another Starlord by visiting their base star
with your produce as cargo in your Capital Ship. The alternative when
visiting is to engage in some coarse language and declare war upon which
your and your nemesis's starfleets will engage in combat. At this point
you will enter your personal battlefighter to lead your forces and the
game changes into a 3D game environment a la Wing Commander. Basically the
objective, in what is your first encounter, is to either destroy your
opponents personal battlefighter or Capital ship. Whoever does this first
is deemed the victor, after the battle your spoils of battle, ie money
and resources won, are displayed. As mentioned this is only the first stage
in the battle as you next have to defeat their planetry defences in what
is effectively a repeat of your first battle. If you are victorious a
member of your family is installed as the planets new ruler and it is
added into your personal empire! If you conquer a Starlord of superior rank
it is you that takes control and you assume their rank and their base star
as your own.

However its not all that simple. The feudal system that dominates this
future society  means that unless you are the Emperor/Empress you will
always have to answer and pay tribute to someone. In particular at the
start when you are the lowest of the low you have to be careful not get on
the wrong side of a family that is extensively superior! Eventually you
will gain vassals of your own, but until that time your immediate superior
may call upon you to aid them in their own personal vendetta of their
own design and benefit. Of course when you are in the same position you'll
be able to rally your vassals to aid you in a fight with a rival.
Diplomacy is therefore important in this game, not only with your superiors
but with your subordinates. Should you challenge your liege and fail for
example you'll be branded a rebel and hunted down and destroyed.
Alternatively if you harrass your vassals too much you'll be damned as a
tyrant upon which they'll form alliances to overthrow you! As such
alliances with other families  have both negative and positive
consequences, on the one hand an alliance can noteably increase your power
and influence  but it can also create new enemies whether you want to or

It all sounds good on paper doesn't it? But for some reason the game fails
to really attract the passive observer and you'll really have to be a
strategy nut to enjoy this. Looking at the screenshots at the back from
the PC though, it would also seem that Microprose have cut back
extensively on the graphics and whilst in the majority of the game this
matters not, in the 3D section it really lets the game down. Being a
Microprose game, the 3D battle sequences are more F19 Stealth fighter than
Wing Commander. Of course this is a matter of conjecture for whilst Wing
Commander lacks realism it has oodles more gameplay than this or
Frontier:Elite 2 for example. If anything the game runs a little too fast
- this could be due to the accelerator card I'm running on but its also in
some respects like Starglider 2, in that its very difficult to keep up
with the action thats going on as all sorts of explosions and starships
are flying past you!  As with Epic and Frontier all other ships are
polygon based with no distinct markings unlike Wing Commander and so it is
difficult to ascertain your opponents clearly - in that respect therefore
it too much of a serious flight sim where you tend to see very little of
your enemies ship. I personally like to see what I'm shooting at; it makes
for a more satisfying victory when you see that sucker blow into a million
pieces! That said the explosions in this game are actually quite good,
however for some reason the designers of the game decided to stick an
orange (yes orange) grid along the horizontal view of the screen. A bit
weird if anything although if you've played Subwar 2050 before this might
not bother you but the orange contrasts really BADLY with the black of
space. As well as all this you can simply switch on the AutoPilot during
combat and it'll do the hard work for you! Unfortunately with your targets
being difficult to spot plumbing for the easy option is very, very
tempting particularly when you've just lost the other Starlord's
battleship and its just nowhere to be seen. It doesn't help either that
when you actually hold a conversation with one of your rivals head to head
they look like they have spent too long on a sunbed after half a dozen
facelifts- a problem that incidentally Frontier suffers from as well!

If anything whilst a combination of resource management and 3D battles
sounds like a great combination it turns out to be, in this particular
game, a bit of an unhappy mess. I'll admit its quite amusing to set up
your own coat of arms and to read about your fellow family members
personal victories against their rivals but its not really enough. Don't
get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoy both Civilization and Wing Commander, but
both are distinctively different game genres which appeal to different
facets of your average gamer. Both were also better made as quite clearly
the amusing and well thought out touches evident in Sid Meier's products,
or games like The Settlers from Blue Byte, are not evident here.

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