reviews\ Sep 25, 2002 at 8:00 pm

Defender of the Crown - GBA - Review

The king is dead, and the throne is vacant. Saxons and Normans battle for control of England. This is a time for knights to rise up and save the land from certain destruction.

Defender of the Crown, a Game Boy Advance release from Metro3D and Cinemaware, is a game that combines elements of risk, with the bravado of knights errant on missions to save damsels in distress and quell the unrest, which is sweeping the land.

GameZone was able to look at an advance review copy of the game – which is slated to hit store shelves October 7.

You begin the game by choosing the avatar that will represent you. Each lord is rated in leadership, jousting and swordplay. No one lord excels at all three. The map of England is divided into 18 territories. Each territory has its own level of income and vassals. Income is very important. You need gold to purchase soldiers, knights, catapults and castles – each increasingly more expensive. If you wish to conquer other territories, you will need the army.

You can also transfer your army from one area to another. However, should you not have enough forces in one of your lands, you will likely be attacked and lose that territory.

During your turn, there are several options available: purchase an army (including catapults, which you will need if you lay siege to a castle), move the army, go raiding, or host a tournament. The latter two will earn you gold and a reputation, if you win. A side quest may be offered you to rescue a lady held captive. If you are successful, you may gain a wife.

The tournament is an interesting aspect of this game. The joust is well done, and you are tasked with aiming your lance as your steed gallops toward the opposition. You get points for hits to certain areas. There are three rounds in a joust and the one with the most points at the end of it wins. If you are unseated from your horse, you will have the opportunity to regain your honor in a one-on-one battle with maces. Control of the mace is akin to the sword. The D-pad moves you back and forth, while the A button attacks and the B button blocks.

The only difference is that in swordplay, the R button also comes into play and you slash at your opponent with your blade.

Graphically this game is solid, with bright, lush environments, and excellent animation. The script used to propel the storyline along is stylized – presumably trying to emulate the era – and somewhat hard to read because of its size.

The sound of the game is negligible – mostly grunts and music.

Defender of the Crown is quite enjoyable, with good graphical elements and diverse game play. This is the type of game that would appeal to any who like a modicum of civilization games, with a pinch of turn-based strategy, and a dash of combat.

This game is rated for Everyone.

Gameplay: 8
The game plays out in a turn-based manner, with battles (akin to land grabs) across the face of England in each turn. As such, the game is somewhat slow and the action is semi-linear. If you go raiding, you will face the same four opponents in the same areas. Jousting is similar.

Graphics: 8
The animation is well done. The scripting is a little hard to read on the tiny GBA monitor. The environments are nicely rendered.

Sound: 7
There is nothing here that is out of the ordinary. The music is well done, but can get monotonous after a while.

Difficulty: Medium
It will take some time to master the intricacies of the joust. You can set the enemy difficulty level, but the game will ask you to make decisions along the way. Sometimes, an all-out ferocious attack is not the answer.

Concept: 7.8
The game does a nice job of combining several elements into a period piece with a simple user interface.

Overall: 8
This is a solid game that will supply hours of entertainment and challenge. The time setting is nice and the look of the game is wonderful. Defender of the Crown may be somewhat linear and have limited options, but it does a nice job of combining several elements into an enjoyable gaming experience.


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