Lords of Midnight III: The Citadel
The Beginning Of Lords Of Midnight III: The Citadel contains a large introduction sequence familiarising you with events in the previous two games. A good thing too; it's been a long time since Lords of Midnight I and II warmed the hearts of the early gamesplayers. Now the game is back: bigger, better, more beautiful and more than ready to take up the mantle of its illustrious forebears.
In fact, knowledge of the background to The Citadel is not important to its enjoyment. You can get by with what Macca wrote a few issues ago in a 'Eulogy on Mike Singleton'. He summarised Lords of Midnight as: 'Lots of men with large pointy helmets hack each other to death over some "tundra".' The sequel, Doomdarks Revenge, he described as: 'In revenge for being hacked to death in the previous game, more men with helmets carve up some more men - but with larger axes this time'. Now we reach the third instalment of the story (though the first on pc) in which men with pointy helmets have to rescue another man with a pointy helmet from the clutches of some other men.
Action takes place over 12 realms held under the sway of all-round bad guy Boroth Wolfheart. Your aim is to rouse the peoples of these realms against their ruler while rescuing your own Prince who's undergoing a long sojourn at his majesty's pleasure.
In the standard rpg you control one player or, at best, a group of players who travel about the gameworld together. This is a far too limited system for someone like Mike Singleton who, even way bgck in the days of the dangerously seminal Midwinter, was developing games in which you could control numerous characters on a range of missions. No surprise, then, that in Lords of Midnight you have five characters who can each undertake their own individual quest with which to further your cause. You can control any of these characters at any time - so if one quest is getting bogged down (or downright dangerous) you can switch to other characters elsewhere in the game. However, the characters in The Citadel are not aimless morons who are unable to live without you.
While the game progresses characters will act for themselves. If you leave someone at an Inn and don't come back to him for a few hours don't expect him still to be there - or if he is, don't expect him still to be able to walk. Which brings us rather neatly to one of the really special elements of The Citadel.
In his attempt to create a world in which you get completely involved, Mike Singleton has produced an impressive new element to the game. Namely real 'Real-time' time that carries on without you. If you elect to play it on this setting, then a day is a day. So if you leave off playing The Citadel for three weeks, when you come to load it up, the game will check the clock on your pc and then update it so that three weeks have passed in game time. That means all the characters, including the ones you control, will have moved on, carried on living their own lives or indeed losing them. It's quite possible to load up the game and find half your heroes have taken an early bath. That's the problem with heroes, always washing themselves.
Time also passes within the graphics, with a gradual changing of the scenes making itself known on the fractally generated landscape. Unlike some games, season change does not mean, 'Whoops there go all the leaves, must be Autumn'. Instead, the changes are gradual, leaf fall even varying according to the type of tree it is.
I wandered Lonely
Making his way through this landscape is your hero, or whichever one you're controlling at the time, a character proud in his body of animated texture bitmaps. The viewpoint in The Citadel can be either the first person perspective beloved of rpg adventurists, or from a camera which is able to follow the main character as if on a bit of string.
There are two ways of controlling the movements of your character during the game. You can either guide him, every step of the way, towards his next destination or else you can tell him where you want him to go next and leave it to him to get there by himself. Left to his own devices the character will choose the best route possible. The artificial intelligence used to calculate the route the character follows will take into account not only such geographical obstacles as slopes and water, but how far the character can see.
Along this route there are, of course, a whole host of characters to meet, interact with and kill. This includes both human and other creatures - there are, for instance, dragons. Some of these are of the 'How would you and your party like to experience a barbecue from the meat's point of view?' school of good manners; others act as a form of early airline-service. It's important not to confuse the two.
Combat within The Citadel represents one of the many attempts to get away from the traditional rpg way of things. The action is more dynamic where you have to aim your hit with care. Says producer Chris Johnson: 'It's not like Bards Tale-type games where you take a hit, they take a hit etc.'
Download Lords of Midnight III: The Citadel
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP