Interplay has made yet another fine game. Those of you who played the sequel may already have an idea of the concept of Castles. You must build a castle, create a powerful army, and defend yourself in case of danger. One aspect of this game which I particularly like is the starting menu: There you can choose the difficulty, your name, the name of your castle, whether or not you wish to receive messengers, and so forth. When you’re ready, you can start building your mighty fort. Just a note: to bring up the menu press Z. You may want to begin with the design. Not many options there – you can choose the walls and the gate, and there are two different types of towers (there is also an erase option).
Okay, you have laid the foundations. The problem is that you will need someone to build on them, so you must hire workers. You will also have the option of setting their wages, but don’t bother with this if you want a stable economy. It will also be a good idea to start building your army at once, because it takes a lot of precious time.
The building part you’ll have to navigate manually. Clicking walls or towers will bring you to a menu allowing you to determine its height and width, enable you to build arrow slits and cauldrons for the walls, or to have windows in the towers. From this menu you will choose the number of workers you want to employ. You can also see how many days it will be until the building is completed, whether there are workers assigned to construction, whether it is stable, and so on.
During your construction, messengers, who can vary from soldiers to nuns, will visit you. They will tell you about their problems and you’ll have to choose between three options; this choice will affect your status as a king. Making good decisions and having pity will raise you in the people's eyes.
When a battle is coming, a pop-up screen will warn you about it. You will have the time to put your troops on the map and, when you are prepared, the combat begins. If the menu is enabled, close it again using Z, and the camera angle will change, allowing you to see your soldiers fighting the enemy. If you don’t want this, you can still watch them as dots that will stop moving when they’re dead. Your army only consists of archers and infantry. Some horsemen would perhaps be a good addition, but the creators thought otherwise.
There are many other aspects you must cover in this game, like buying food, replacing old equipment, taxes and so on. The graphics are wonderful. You can see every step in the wall-building process. The sound is good although it can become boring after a long time of playing. I rate this game as a 4, because in order to win, you must build eight castles, and that can get boring, especially once you develop a good strategy.
Give Castles a try, and you won't be disappointed.