The problem with power is that a little is never enough. Make a man a Lord and he wants to be king. Make a man a Caliph, and he wants to be the Caliph. The first obstacle between you and the title of Great Caliph are three rival (little?) Calphs. However, these Caliphs are like candyfloss compared with the intruder who is out to juice up everyone in sight. If you're not prepared for him when he turns up then you're likely to be caught with your trousers down.
To keep them up, you'll need not only a stout belt but all the economic, military and diplomatic skills you can lay your hands on. Khalaan presents you with the sort of logistic problems that would make the current Middle Eastern situation look like a picnic with Aunt Jemima (before her unfortunate accident that is).
Scheming your way to the top ultimately depends on your ability to raise armies and then use them to dominate the cities and fortresses in your Caliphate. The size of your armies depends on the size of your sleevies... sorry, couldn't resist it... actually it depends on the availability of money and supplies. No supplies means no storming of castles.
To storm a castle you first have to use a bit of bow 'n' arrow on the defenders as they rush out of their gates. If you can outshoot them then it's into the castle for a bit of cut 'n' thrust. If you find that all this joystick waggling is not for you then you can switch the combat to automatic and let the computer do it for you.
As you empire spreads, so do the options open to you. A game might start simply with the raising of a couple of small armies. However, before you know where you are, the first army has deserted and the second is haggling with a camel trader in a nearby city.
Not many moons later, you may have burgled a rival Caliphate, raised another army, besieged a fortress and watched the pride of your armed forces sink to the bottom in a fierce naval encounter... and the game's barely started yet.
Paul: Some games take about twenty seconds to get the measure of; you can have them played, reviewed and screenshot in less time than it takes to get bored with Wimbledon. Other games take a little longer. I've been playing Khalaan pretty well non stop for three or four days now and still don't really feel I've fully done it justice.
Hailing from the Joan Of Arc team, Khalaan is a testing strategy game but there's more to it than that... There's enough joystick waggling to satisfy most action buffs and some really attractive digitised screens.
The screens have something of a feel to them but since no one's seen that yet it's a fairly pointless comparison.
All the action, from supplying armies to embarking camel trains on ships, is done by fairly simple icon-clicking. Occasionally you'll find that you have to click on an icon more than a few times to get it to respond and some of the scrolling is less than perfect but this has little effect on the gameplay.
The depth is so great that even a confirmed old shoot 'em up fa like me soon switched off the combat sequences because they distracted from the main action. Before long my Caliphate was a mass of camel trains, armies and footloose assassins.
Not long after that the office was a mass of empty boxes and split coffee as I searched for a formatted disk to save the game Khalaan is certainly not the sort of game which can be polished off in one sesh.
An engrossing adventure that's actually fun to play, Khalaan is by no means a flawless strategy game but it is one of the few I've been drawn back to for a second helping...