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Game Over Online ~ Lands of Lore III

GameOver Game Reviews - Lands of Lore III (c) Westwood Studios, Reviewed by - Pseudo Nim

Game & Publisher Lands of Lore III (c) Westwood Studios
System Requirements Pentium 166, 32MB Ram, 4x CD-ROM
Overall Rating 77%
Date Published Wednesday, April 28th, 1999 at 04:10 PM


Divider Left By: Pseudo Nim Divider Right

Since the beginning of time, man has always wanted to impersonate someone or another. Theatres were created, people posed as other people, and, skipping about three thousand years of history, RPG games were created. While that's somewhat of a very short intro, it serves as one - which, tangentially, game makers often like to do for games, showing off the technology much more than the actual game's story. Such, for instance, is the case with Lands of Lore III. I was quite confused by the intro, where at first a slew of evil-looking creatures appeared in sequence, and later a camp of... well, campers was raided by hordes of orcs. Then the hero of the game appeared in a castle, found out he turned out to be of royal blood, after which he was kicked out of the very same castle and started travelling in the search of his soul. This intro was about half-way between the popular styles - one where the intro shows off the latest in video or animation technology but tells the player absolutely nothing of the story (such as in Final Fantasy VII), or one that introduces the story to the player, captivating him and inducing him to play even before he hits 'Start Game', such as in Fallout 2. Now, mind, it's definitely possible to make an intro that has the best of both, and the Wing Commander intros prove that - but in my humble opinion, LOL3's intro didn't precisely hit the ubiquitous sweet spot there.

In addition to the confusing intro, the graphics in the game are somewhat disappointing. However, let me clarify that statement: structures are quite impressive-looking, as opposed to enemies and general surroundings. By general surroundings I mean, for example, trees in a forest, or stalactites and stalagmites in caves - by God, they're sprites! Or some of them, in any case - which makes walking around the forest all the more confusing. The creatures, unlike what Westwood says, don't look like they have 20,000 polygons - they actually look quite pixelated, though, I must say, they do move quite smoothly, and when they gesticulate, the action is perfectly synched to the dialogue. But the overall feel of the graphics, unfortunately, is quite lacking.

"Graphics don't make the game," as the saying goes, and I can't but agree. But unfortunately, too often do graphics leave a bad initial impression, and moreover, if a company can't afford to make decent graphics for a game, in a good number (though, happily, not all) of cases the game will turn out bad. LOL3's streak of bad luck continues into the gameplay. Control is quite appalling, especially during times when you have to fight enemies. The game is played from a first-person point of view, which makes things like strafing and quick movement absolutely necessary, and the game fails at that quite miserably. Control is sluggish, and for some reason I was unable to turn mouselook and mouse turning on, even though I chose that option in the install program. The result? You have to control your character with the keyboard, which is one reason I was so bad in combat - frankly, last time I walked with the keyboard was in the days of Doom.

But not all is lost if you wish to forgo those turnoffs. There is a game behind - and not a bad one at that, and an easy one to get into. While it might not satisfy hardcore RPGers because of its lack of a party system (you're limited to one companion that joins you depending on which guild you join, and you cannot get another one, nor a new one in the case of an untimely death of the old one). Stats were also waived, and while there is a system of experience points, I would tend to compare them more to Diablo's rather than, for example, Fallout's. As well, the weight of the inventory is unlimited, that is, your items can add up to five kilograms or twenty tons, it won't make a bit of a difference. NPC dialogue is nicely implemented, and the sound does move sideways if you turn (and fade if you leave); however, you can't choose your responses. And if you miss what the person says, you can go into the conversation log and read it. There's also a very comprehensive journal that keeps track of everything you've done, a fairly decent automap feature, and even a sort of a notebook where you can type in your own notes - a feature I found to be quite interesting and useful. It's also interesting how Westwood 'livened' up the city - there's different sorts of people all around the place, such as guards, maids, vendors of all kinds, and normal townfolk, to most of whom you can talk. But one grudge that I have is that forests, caves and anything else not situated in a city always have a sort of a corridor through which you can walk, and a wall surrounding it. I suppose, in first-person view, it would be quite hard to model an entire forest and let the player roam about in it... but it leaves a very negative impression nonetheless, especially when sprite-based trees get in the way when you try running backwards from a boar.

The enemies in LOL3 are quite varied, with the most dangerous one at first being a spider, then wild boars, then cockroaches, and so forth. Some can exercise magic powers upon you, some stick to hack-and-slashing. In parentheses I must note a very innovative and interesting feature (which I thought of when I mentioned the boars) - food. Your character must periodically eat food, whether it be pork chops that you salvaged from a boar that you killed, or more exquisite meals you buy at your local store. If you don't eat, your hit points will no longer regenerate when damaged, and if you still don't eat, then they'll start dropping.

As to cover up for the other shortcomings, though, the audio in the game was quite impressive. The initial music score before the player leaves Gladstone is very characteristic of the whole epic medieval times theme, and, in fact, sticks in your head for a while, even when you're not playing the game. The NPCs in the game also talk, sometimes to themselves, and, as I mentioned, the sound moves around in the speakers, depending which way you face them, and fades if you leave. Walking around in a forest is accompanied by a characteristic rustling of leaves and branches, wooden floors have a dull-sounding echo, and so forth.

Overall, it's not easy to praise or dispraise LOL3. On the one hand, I expected it to be a lot more of an RPG than it turned out to be. I expected stats, some Fallout-type skills, proficiencies in different weapons, et cetera; but I must admit that, given an open mind, this game can be a lot of fun. It just can't be treated on the same level as, for example, Baldur's Gate, or the ubiquitous Fallout. For some "lite" roleplaying, though, this game fits the bill quite nicely.

 

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Rating
77%
 

 

 
 

 

 

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