Ubi Soft/Ashminster Computing
£14.99 cass, £19.99 disk
It's the Middle Ages: After many years fighting in the Holy Wars, the Iron Lord returns home to France. But, nom de dieu! Things are not what they were! His father, the king, is dead. Murdered by his evil uncle, who now rules through tear and torture a land of misery. Parbleux! The Iron Lord decides it is time for a better world! An army must be raised and the evil uncle despatched forthwith!
Iron Lord is an arcade adventure played from a beautifully realised overhead view of the land with roads, hamlets, towns and castle. Mounted on his trusty steed, Iron Lord rides from location to location, which on arrival is shown in more detail ready for exploration. The land is populated, of course, and meeting and communicating with the locals is the name of the game: some will trade information, others will provide items essential to your mission (the odd weapon would not go amiss).
First of all he must win the support of the people: by completing skill testing arcade sequences, like archery, arm winding, dice games and sword fighting.
Archery finds the brave knight on the firing range wanging great arrows at a target, of which there are five. Icons on screen bottom allow him to increase and decrease shot strength, and alter angle of aim. Wind speed and direction (changing constantly) are found here too. Just to make life difficult, the targets keep moving as well. No easy task to get a hit!
Arm wrestling and dice throwing in the taverns are also similarly controlled, with neat graphics of opponents adding atmosphere, and joystick waggling physical exercise! Unfriendly knights are a hazard, and only clever swordplay and nifty footwork will save iron Lord.
Once he has raised an army, its time for our hero to turn his attention to the home castle. Ensconced on the top of the tower Iron Lord directs the climactic battle with his uncle's army. Turns of aggressive action are taken, and depending on the strength of the forces, the vile despot will hopefully be beaten.
But even then the fight is not yet quite won. The uncle flees for his life into a mazelike labyrinth and turns into a demon (!) in one last attempt to destroy Iron Lord. Whether he does or not is entirely up to how nifty you are on your pins. Both adventure and joystick wielding junkies are well catered for in Iron Lord, and Ubisoft haven't done too badly in attempting an 'epic' type game. Sadly what at first glance seems to be a game of great depth, reveals rather less body than one would like, Graphically its great with a nice mixture of monochromatic and colourful sprites. Pity.
Iron Lord looks good, but sadly falls short of expectations due to the fact that only a couple of things can be done in each town on the first level, okay - there are the arcade sections archery, gambling etc. But things would have been livened up a bit if there were a few more tasks to perform, or more people to visit. If you ever dreamed of becoming a Knight on a white charger take a look at Iron Lord anyway.
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