Sword Of Aragon

Publisher: Strategic Simulations Inc
Machine: Amiga 500

Published in Zzap #64

Sword Of Aragon

Dad's popped his clogs! He was the Duke of Aladda and his will dictates that you are to extend his dominion and eventually sit on the emperor's throne in the city of Tetrada. Easy for him to say, he's six foot under.

Anyway, 'cause your dad's will is law - even though he's pushing up daisies - you have to obey. This means raising and equipping an army so you may venture forth to wipe the floor with fearsome foes who are even now threatening Aladda and its surroundings.

Play takes place on two levels: the first leans more toward the economic and political than physical, and involves your control of factors concerned with governing a peasant populace, i.e. tax collecting and fixing wages for soldiers. The second level is where you put your armies through their paces defending your lands and attempting to conquer new ones.

Your first move is to select a class for your character from a selection including knights, rangers, warriors and mages. Once chosen, data on your character is shown detailing weapons, armour, leadership abilities and combat prowess.

You then either select Standard Unit Setup (computer generated) for your army or build it from scratch - the former is recommended for inexperienced players. Army units vary, dependent on the class of character you've chosen to play and include cavalry, bowmen, infantry and so on.

The game begins with you in the relative safety of Aladda where you can survey your armies, city and income. From here you use funds raised from looting, rewards or taxes to train or equip armies. Or you can invest in your city's growth by pumping money into agriculture, mining, lumber and defence.

Once happy with the economic side of your hopefully ever-growing empire, you set out to undertake quests or overthrow unfriendly cities. In fact your first (unavoidable) task is to vanquish the orc army that killed your father - thankfully this is relatively simple to accomplish and also quite rewarding.

Combat is fairly extensive with different types of battle situations. Once you've selected the units you wish to be involved in a particular battle, you're given move options such as Supply (load missile weapons, prepare spells and so on), Attack, Cast, Force or Entrench. You may also select an automatic-move option which gives your computer control of the move.

Although combat takes place in real time, results of your non-conflict decisions are only seen once you advance time one month. This feature also provides information on happenings throughout the rest of the realm - it's also at this stage that quests are made known to you.

Success breeds success and the better you are at taking over the kingdom the more people will be drawn to you to add to your forces.

Sound in Sword Of Aragon is odd and the theme music is particularly naff but, taking into account the strategic bent of the game, graphics are certainly adequate. There is, however, a lot to do in the game, and becoming emperor is not going to be easy, even for skilled strategists. But it's not just a case of attacking and overthrowing enemy cities - much of the kingdom is unexplored. Danger and magic reside in these areas, testing your leadership abilities to the full should you venture there.

Sword Of Aragon is a good game, which is quite exciting in places. The running of cities combined with combat, and the opportunity to undertake quests, gives the game much depth. It should keep you playing for weeks!