Legions Of Death (Lothlorien/Argus Press) Review | Amstrad Action - Everygamegoing

Amstrad Action

Legions Of Death
By Lothlorien
Amstrad CPC464

Published in Amstrad Action #21

Legions Of Death

Lothlorien has come a long way with its war and strategy games. This is its best to date. Past games have re-enacted small-scale military struggles with limited depth, but now we have a conflict on a grand scale geographically, historically and in gameplay.

The game is set in the Mediterranean of Ancient Rome between 264 BC and 146 BC, when the Romans and Carthaginians waged the Punic wars. The game recreates the naval part of the conflict where the aims are threefold: to collect gold, to capture ports and to sink enemy ships - togas and all. The action takes place off the west coast of Italy, the north coast of Africa and around the islands of Sicily, Corsica and Sardinia.

One or two players can take part. You control Carthage in the one-player game. You start with 1,000 gold pieces with which to construct a fleet. There are five basic types of ship, but several have two versions. They differ in cargo capacity, hull strength, speed, crew numbers, soldier numbers and, of course, cost. You have to spend your money wisely and try to balance the desires for speed, good fighting ability and large cargo capacity against your budget.

Initially you should find between five and ten ships feasible. In a one-player game the computer will start with a slight advantage. It's not because Hannibal put elephants on his ships, though. The ships have to make their way between ports collecting gold and return [some text missing] the war effort and build more ships. Ports gradually build up their gold reserves but you must be careful not to overuse one.

The game is controlled using a series of icon menus. These allow you to give orders to each of your ships. You can determine their course and speed, remembering that they take time to change speed and course. These ancient dreadnoughts lumber the oceans powered by oarsmen with more muscles than Arnold Schwarzenegger and, if they're lucky and the wind's blowing in the right direction, sails.

When these dinosaurs of the sea collide they can do each other's hulls a lot of damage. If either party was able to afford a "corvus" then the ships can "grapple" and a much bloodier battle takes place. Archers use a tower (again only if you bought one), marines board each other's ships and poor oarsmen get generally sliced up. Unfortunately - or fortunately, depending on your stomach - you don't see any of this but just get the grim statistics of death.

If a ship receives too much hull damage, it sinks without trace. Grappled ships will be scuttled if they lose all hands, the cargo being transferred to the victor. Just try not to sink a ship that's grappled to another of your own: it may stay attached and you can't move it. This situation will eventually right itself if you grapple long enough but it's annoying.

Ships that survive these encounters will feel as if they've been in fourteen rounds with Mike Tyson. If they can avoid more trouble and get back to port you can repair the damage at some little expense.

The victory conditions can be set at many levels. The computer always plays tough and will take an awful lot of beating. For once, it's a strategically skilled opponent who balances gold collection and scrapping well. Which is just as well because games can take days to play not always ideal for two players. There's a save-game option.

The graphics are limited. Even the enlarged ship crashes lack oomph. The icons and map windows are well-handled and easy to use. I thoroughly enjoyed it, making a nice change from the usual strategy or war games. It's very nicely presented and, despite inaccuracies in the instructions, easy to play. You'll find it a real challenge to overcome the computer, but then after all, it took the Romans 120 years to beat Carthage - can you hold out as long?

Second Opinion

A decent strategy game. Good use of colour, standard graphics and icon-control thrown in. But strategy games are not meant to look pretty: they are supposed to tax your brain and keep you up till the early hours of the morning - Legions Of Death guarantees that.

Green Screen View

Roman ships are hard to see, but still playable.

First Day Target Score

Destroy ten Roman ships.


Graphics 48%
P. Well-presented icons, menus and windows.
N. Ships and movement rather basic.

Sonics 12%
N. Try whistling over the beeps.

Grab Factor 77%
P. Easy to get started and lots to do.
N. Slow going in all stages.

Staying Power 87%
P. Good computer opponent.
N. Tactical skill and planning required.

Overall 82%
Original idea for a strategy game.

Bob Wade

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