LORDS OF THE REALM II For PCs, CD-ROMS If Lords of the Realm I was one of your favourite games, you're in for a treat. Its sequel, Lords of the Realm II, propels you into epic conflicts and adventures in 13th century England. The game opens in 1268. The king has died without an heir and you are one of several noblemen vying for the right to wear the crown. Your goal is to eliminate all challengers. You begin with the meagre resources of a single county and have to build up its army and economy. On your way to becoming king, you must think carefully how to build weapons, construct castles and raise armies to conquer neighbouring realms before they conquer you. You also need to expand your domain by marching troops into neighbouring territories and sacking villages. Managing resources to keep the soldiers armed and the peasants happy is as crucial as winning battles. Lords II is divided into two parts - turn-based tactics and real-time combat. The radically restructured interface is designed for multi-player battles, making this game comparatively easier to start than its predecessor. The new interface combines turn-based building and economic strategy with Warcraft-style real-time combat. Since the learning curve of the game has been dramatically reduced, more players should be able to get into the unique blend of fun this time. You can invite your friends to play Lords II with you as the game supports up to four players over an (IPX) Network, or two head-to-head via modem. This feature certainly extends the life of the title. Lords of the Realm II is worth buying. Compared to Lords I, it gives you a lot more excitement as well as complicated battles to experience and tackle. The graphics are great and the 3D animation clips wonderful. Lords II runs on a PC with a minimum of 486 DX-2 66 MHz CPU, 15 MB of hard-disk space, 8 MB of free RAM, 2X CD-ROM drive, SVGA video card and monitor capable of 640 x 480 at 256 colours. Sound Blaster or 100 per cent compatible sound card, and Windows '95 or MS-DOS 5.0 or higher are needed. For premium performance, you need a Pentium 75 MHz or better, with 16 MB of RAM, and 4X CD-ROM drive. A modem or network is required for multiplay. MEGAHINT: Catapults are the best siege engine against wooden palisades as the walls are fairly easily breached. Two can be built in the same time as one ram, and they can attack anywhere along the walls. MEGAHINT: The royal castle is very difficult to capture. Try to clear the outer gatehouse with melee units and then set them to batter down the interior gate, while ranged units cover them from the walls of the outer gatehouse. Watch out for oil too.