Lands of Lore III (Windows)

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Lands of Lore III

Windows - 1999

Alt name Lands of Lore 3
Year 1999
Platform Windows
Released in Croatia, France, Germany, Italy, United Kingdom, United States (1999)
Germany (2000)
Worldwide (2012)
Genre Role-Playing (RPG)
Theme Action RPG, Fantasy, Puzzle elements
Publisher Electronic Arts, Inc.
Developer Westwood Studios, Inc.
Perspective 1st-Person
4 / 5 - 7 votes

Description of Lands of Lore III

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Stuff of legend

'By the gods! The Chalice of Thwinxypickle has been stolen! We must retrieve it, otherwise the world shall end, consumed by a great evil!' - so might say a character in any one of the six billion fantasy elves and goblins style films, books, or role playing games currently about. It's the usual kind of set-up you get in these kind of sword and sorcery efforts, all usually revolving around the retrieval of some sacred object or other. Which begs two questions - one, who leaves these so called mystical and powerful articles around, where they can be stolen or smashed by any thief, lord of chaos, or trans-dimensional evil entity? And secondly, who gives them such stupid and mighty-sounding names that they're bound to be nicked by someone at the first opportunity - are they out of their minds?

My advice to anyone who has an artefact that could spell the end of civilisation as we know it is to call it something innocuous, like 'Spot's bowl' or 'Bob's mug', or seal it in concrete, drive or ride to the coast, and chuck it off a cliff . Or better still, do both. And hey presto, the world is saved from destruction. It's easy when you know how.

Lore blimey

But has that occurred to anyone in Lands of Lore 3, the new role-playing game from Westwood? Apparently not; as thanks to the breaking of some mythical mirror, the character you play is assaulted by some rather nasty other-dimensional beasties, and loses his soul, thereby neatly setting up his quest to retrieve his lost bit and save the world from destruction. It never rains, but it pours. Actually, before I go any further, I'd better come clean. I haven't played Lands of Lore 2 (I'm so ashamed) and therefore make any comparison between that title and this latest installment in the series. I did, however have a go at the original Lands of Lore which was a pretty decent game - an opinion apparently shared by the many people who bought it.

There are several significant differences between LOL3 and the original game - not surprising, given the passage of time between this title and LOL 1. But 'different' doesn't necessarily mean better, as a fair few members of the game-purchasing public have found to their cost over the years. Is Lands of Lore 3 an improvement upon the original game? Er, no.

Soul music

Playing as Copper LeGrey, the aforementioned soul-less bloke, you have to hack, slash and button-push your way through the Lands of Lore (TM) and various other mystical realms, to save the universe. You start the game just after losing your astral bit, with no useful items in your possession, and you have to make your way out of the forest area where you became damaged goods. This bit isn't particularly hard - it's only when you leave this small area that the game starts proper (I don't know if that's grammatically correct, but who cares?). I didn't use the words 'opens up' there because while you do have some amount of freedom to join the guilds you want, the game's actually fairly linear in terms of the areas you are allowed to explore, with only one or two small side quests.

Having said that, the levels you do get to wander round are usually quite atmospheric - the first world, the lava world, is rather spooky and oppressive, with burning lava, earthquakes, fire spitting creatures, thin ledges, and other stuff that tends to put you slightly on edge. Oddly, while the levels look good, the baddies themselves are sprite based rather than polygon based, which makes them look slightly dated. But dated or not, they can still kick your face in - and if that isn't enough to look forward two, then there's the somewhat fun revelation that you'll be doing all this hacking and slashing and leaping (yep, there's a bit of that in this game) on your own.

Lone ranger

Some mistake, surely? After all, the original Lands of Lore allowed you to gang up with up to three other adventurers, and collectively kick the poo out of all who wandered into your path. But in Lands of Lore 3 you are largely alone - you are assigned one guild familiar from the guild you choose to join, but they're mostly useful for detecting traps and identifying items (each has their own characteristics), and you can only have one familiar at any one time and they're not much good in a fight.

Some RPG fans may be disappointed that they can't build up their own team, mixing and matching character types, and generally building them into a force to be reckoned with - I was. On another front, whereas in Lands of Lore you could only turn around in 90 degree turns and move in blocks, making it damn near impossible to dodge incoming projectiles, in this sequel-to-the-sequel, you have a little more freedom of movement. You can move around in any direction, jump, and strafe, something that players of Quake and other 3D shooters take for granted, making it easier to keep out of the way of monsters and do a runner if need be.

You also can manipulate objects in a point and click style, picking things up and chucking them around like nobody's business, also using the mouse to whack your foe with a swift sword strike - although there's only one kind of attack for each weapon. So gather up your trusty clicking device and kick monster bottom - you have nothing to lose including your soul - which you, er, already lost.

Pick a pocket or two..

But while you may have lost your soul, you can still die (despite the fact that the intro says you are immortal) and so the various traditional RPG style objects you can pick up during the game will no doubt prove useful against the various clawing, missile throwing and generally nasty baddies. You can buy equipment from shops in the small town that the game takes place around, using coins picked up, stolen or looted from the corpses of your enemies, or you can just find them lying around the various levels. Amongst these items are swords and armour and so on, all of which can be utilised to boost your ability to kick seven shades of sprite-based poo out of the various monsters in the game.

You can also boost your chances of survival by joining one or more of the four guilds in the game - these are the Wizards Guild, who do magic, the Clerics Guild who do.. er, clerical stuff such as healing and mixing herbs (this bit being the only vaguely original feature of the game), the Fighters Guild, who teach you how to kick the aforementioned seven shades of sprite-based poo out of your enemies, and the not-really-hidden-at-all Thieves Guild which teach you how to nick things and stab your enemies in the back. Your choice of guild won't really affect the outcome of the game though it might affect how you play it just a little if you choose to exploit your guild skills, such as magic, pickpocketery or others.

Whack a dragon

But aside from pickpocketing, there's very little character interaction in Lands of Lore 3. The characters wander around aimlessly and you can't talk to most of them. The ones you can talk to, who have at least some vague relevance to your quest can't really be interrogated thoroughly, and you just auto-talk to them by clicking your mouse pointer on them - you can't discuss varied subjects at all. And even more disturbingly, you can't massacre them without being arrested, ending the game, even if there are no witnesses about. Eeeh, it's getting so you can't blast, hack and chop fictional characters to kingdom come without some virtual copper arresting you. What's the world coming to?

Fortunately, you can do plenty of hacking and slashing in the depths of Lands of Lore 3's various worlds - as well as the beasties mentioned earlier, you'll also run into giant red lava snakes, mutant beetles, hellhounds, strange flying things and all manner of nasties. These creatures get progressively nastier through the game, but so do you, as kicking their heads in will slowly build up your strength and skill, enabling you to kick their heads in more successfully - in the same way that continued use of a guild skill will boost your proficiency with that skill. Also, you get the opportunity to buy better spells (which have to be purchased, not learnt) and equipment from the various shops (yes, you can try nicking it if you want) to keep up with the nasties.

But..

Plotwise, Lands of Lore 3 is nothing to write home about - the plot is the usual fantasy stuff - hidden realms, evil creatures, that sort of thing, pretty standard stuff. In fact, that really is the problem with Lands of Lore 3 in a nutshell - it's not actually particularly special. Once you get past the 'ooo - that's nice' factor of the other worlds, you realise that below this graphical veneer, the game is quite ordinary. It lacks the openness of games like DaggerfallFallout and a fair other RPGS - you get the definite feeling that you are being led through the game rather than allowed to roam freely. There aren't many side quests, and the constant hacking and slashing and button pressing (you don't often run into a puzzle requiring more than this) does get a bit samey after a while. There are also no real plot twists, and the fact that you can't allocate your experience points freely or even build up a proper party doesn't exactly make you want to carry on. By contrast, Lands of Lore 1 was rather a good dungeon romp - complete with the ability to build up your own party and various other funky bits. Compared to other RPG offerings, Lands of Lore 3 doesn't really have anything to offer experienced or new role playing gamers - or non RPGers for that matter.

And on top of all that, Lands of Lore 3 demands a vast amount of disk space - 500 meg to install, along with a ludicrous amount of swap space - if you fail to keep at least 400 meg of space free then it tends to crash. And then there's the long loading times between levels - I frequently went away, made myself a drink, only to find the levels hadn't finished loading - that's on a PC with 64MB of memory, too. In summary, Lands of Lore 3 really isn't worth picking up - it's unoriginal, uninteresting, slow as a very slow thing and best avoided like a dragon with halitosis. Disappointing.

Review By GamesDomain

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