Sword of Aragon (Second Review)

Title		Sword of Aragon (Second Review)
Publisher	CCS, 1989
Game Type	Strategy
Players	        1
HD Installable	Yes
Compatibility	All Amigas (can be promoted to run on VGA monitors)
Submission	John Burns (john@jgb.abelgratis.co.uk) Profiled Reviewer

Sword of Aragon is an old turn based fantasy strategy game in the Lord of
the Rings mold (i.e. a world of humans, elves etc.). Okay, it's the usual
story of you having to recover some items and defeat the baddies in order
to bring peace to the realm - but ain't that always the way.

Anyway the game begins with you selecting an occupation for yourself from
the again usual Warrior, Ranger, Mage, etc. classes. Dependent on which
you choose you will be given a selection of companions from other classes.
Personally I think that this is quite an important decision as you are
given different companions in line with your class choice and not
necessarily those which may be best suited to your way of playing the
game, but you have to discover this for yourself. It would have been nice if
the game made it obvious which companions/classes you'd get beforehand. As
it is, the only way is by trying them all and finding out for yourself.
Whilst this party may seem to point toward RPG style gaming it really
isn't in practice since your party are utilised in a more strategic way as
part of an army.

Party ready it's onward to the game proper. The game initially places you
in your home city of Aladda. You can issue orders to both your army (which
in addition to your companions is bolstered by three units of various
types) and manage your city's resources. At first glance your army may
seem pretty good but never fear you'll soon get the chance to find out
first-hand. Yes, shock, horror, as soon as you finish your first turn
you'll find yourself beset by an enemy army. Fail here and it's game over
- on the bright side though you won't have wasted much time! Survive and
you can then get on with the game proper.

As I said it's a turn based game so each turn you can spend your income
from taxes on improving your city or army. As the game progresses and you
win, either through arms or diplomacy, other cities to your side, the whole
process of checking on each city can get rather tedious. Some cities are
pretty stable whilst others need constant attention to keep them
functioning properly and on-side. Likewise some cities can be left
undefended whilst others will require that you create an army for its
defence. This isn't really a problem since once you discover which cities
need no defence any troops positioned in those can be moved and combined
with other armies.

As you move around the land you will have to fight, or retreat from, other
armies. You will also find out about areas of the map which are blanked
out until explored and be given information on various events. These
events consist of such things as giants holding villagers hostage and
bandits in the nearby woods etc. If you choose to act on this information
and successfully defeat the baddies then often you will be rewarded with
some extra benefit. This can be along the lines of a local town coming
over to your side or an artefact which enhances your army's strength or
your prestige.

Overall it's not too bad a game but the constant checking required by some
cities is an annoyance, especially further into the game when you have
quite a few. The AI of course is highly questionable as in many battles
you can easily win over vastly superior forces with no loss to yourself by
shooting at long range with archers. I deny anyone who can say this is
realistic. What army or commander would stand still and get shot at time
upon time without attacking?  None, of course, and though arguably this is
a bit of cheating it may be your only option. The difficulty in this game
lies more in the superior strength of the enemy forces than in actual
strategy. The game's biggest failing for me was in not creating any sense
of empathy. Without this I just don't care what happens to my people and
ultimately lose interest. Oh, I still fire it up from time to time for a
bit of a go but rarely now do I actually think about finishing a complete

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