A wonderfully addictive game of medieval conquest and intrigue.

User Rating: 8.2 | Knights of Honor PC
Knights of Honor may seem like just another game of conquering Europe, but it has more than enough twists and differences to make it both innovative and thoroughly enjoyable. Set on a single map which runs from the Western reaches of the British Isles and the Iberian Peninsula to Asia Minor and the Ural Mountains it offers you a multitude of provinces to conquer. With three period (Early, High and Late Medieval ) to chose from and several dozen of Kingdoms per period the options seem limitless. Should you go for an easy start and pick a large kingdom or should you go for a challenge from the first moment by choosing a small, one province kingdom wedged between powerful neighbours? The most important element in the game is your royal dynasty. Should your king die without offspring you run the risk of going back to square one as your kingdom will fall apart in a patchwork of independent kingdoms. Normally this is easy, but taking risks by having your monarch lead armies, a rival's successful assassination attempt or pure blind luck can all result in a kingdom much smaller than it used to be. The second most important element are your knights. You can hire up to ten of these worthies and assign them tasks as varied as marshalling your armies, looking after the spiritual welfare of your people or spying on your rivals. Male members of your royal family can also fulfill any of these roles, but beware of the possible consequences should any of them be killed. Your marshals can raise armies to conquer provinces by successfully laying siege to the capital. Armies can consist of a maximum of nine squads of troops of various make up. The available troops depend on the kingdom you are playing, the province you recruit them and the improvements (building) you make to your city. Of course, you may be lucky and bump into some interesting mercenaries which you can interest in your cause should you offer them enough money. Apart from the regular troops you can enlist four additional squadrons of siege troops, assuming you trained your marshal sufficiently. Each battle can be fought either in a quick automatic mode or hands on, with you leading each squadron personally on a smaller scale detail map. But be careful, losing your marshall will lose you the battle. As mentioned you can build improvements for the capital cities of each province. These include military buildings, like barracks and smithies, but also defensive buildings like walls and towers, and economic buildings. The economic buildings are limited by the natural resources found in each province, something which seems to be assigned at random when the game starts. Quite a few of the more advanced buildings need to have existing resources/enhancements in place and together with the limited building space this will lead to some careful planning. Acquiring resources also gives access to the so called Kingdom Advantages, which give various bonuses. For some of these you will need access to exotic goods which can be imported in some seaside town, providing you build the correct improvements. Resources can also be acquired through trade with other kingdoms, for which you need to assign one or more of your knights as merchants. I personally often have members of the royal family assigned to trade as this is a relative safe occupation. The graphics are good looking if a bit petite. Your little armies waltz around the map, birds fly through the sky and the various towns show their improvements in their graphics. The whole map is constantly alive and active and you will have a steady stream of incoming messages about the affairs of other kingdoms. The sound effects are nice, but nothing really special. The game runs smoothly and has a high replay value as different starting positions often mean very different games. All in all, Knights of Honor is a very involved game, and I haven't even mentioned the crusades you can organise, converting conquered provinces to your faith of choice, assassinating your enemies, marrying your vassals daughter or having your marshals revolt and your provinces rebel.