Lands of Lore III

a game by Westwood
Platform: PC
Editor Rating: 5/10, based on 1 review
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Overview

STOLEN -- One soul. Taken during hunting trip with family. Last seen with Rift Hounds. If found, please contact Copper LeGré, Gladstone castle.

Welcome to the third in the Lands of Lore series. This episode presents a new character named Copper. He's 16, the nephew of King Richard LeGré, and one-quarter Dracoid. His soul has been ripped from his body by otherworld beasts during the annual family boar hunt, and thanks to those savage uninvited guests, Copper is now without father and half brothers.

Now how is such a young boy to retrieve his own lost soul? And why have the Lands suddenly begun to warp with bizarre landscapes? Is there any hope for Copper, or Gladstone?

Gameplay, Controls, Interface

The goal of the game is to save both Gladstone and Copper's soul. As with its predecessors, you are presented with various worlds or "portals" to conquer, using any combination of magic and might. With this version, Westwood finally has an interface that does not interfere with gameplay, plus it offers a much cleaner visual. Gone are the pop-outs and overlays that blocked earlier version gameplay. You are given a journal for all information such as creatures and skills, a bag for carrying the items you find/buy/steal, and a compass to help you around the lands. With this iteration, you can have everything available and still see to play the game.

Harkening back to the first Lands of Lore (LoL), you can choose a companion to help you in your quest. These companions take of the form of four familiars, each packaged with its own set of skills. Each familiar is offered by a Guild, and each guild represents the various skills you can learn during the game: magic, might, pharmacology and thievery/deception. With the ability to choose any familiar and any combination of Guilds, there are endless possibilities each time you play the game.

LoL III works best with high-end machines with lots of guts on their video cards. Even though the movement by mouse and/or keyboard is vastly improved, anything less than the minimum requirements will leave gameplay spasmodic at best.

Note: Westwood has a patch on its website that addresses several bugs in the final shipped product. While I managed to finish the game without the patch, it sure improved the experience once it was in place.

Graphics

Here again, the people at Westwood learned from the other versions. Gone are the live-action actors added to LoL II, along with most of the chunky 3D landscapes. But the game is still hindered by the same 3D engine used since the first version. While the developers spruced it up considerably, the game does suffer. The natural shadowing in this version is a nice touch, but a newer engine would have been preferable. The overall effect, though, is still a smartly-presented world that reacts well to the player's movements.

Also included are some very nice mini-movies. While not quite at the top of the computer-generated line, these movies still paint the scene dramatically and add detail and substance to the game.

Audio

If the graphics for this game are rich, then the sounds are opulent. Westwood takes full advantage of 3D sound technologies, offering an aural world that can give you shivers. No twittering MIDI files here. Between the layering of sound and the directional aspects, you can bet your hit points on the direction of that enemy's attack. And if you have a good sound system with a sub-woofer ... best keep the fragile glassware in another room.

System Requirements

Windows 95, 98, or NT 4.0, Pentium 166 or higher, 32 MB RAM, 450 MB hard drive space, 16 bit DirectSound compatible, 4X CD-ROM drive, and a DirectX 6.0 compatible video card with 1 MB or more RAM. Native support for Voodoo and Voodoo2 3Dfx chipsets

Documentation

The game comes with a thick booklet, replete with all the info you could possibly want, plus Westwood provides phone numbers for help and hints.

Bottom Line

Whether or not you are a fan of the Lands of Lore series, this is an excellent game to play. There is a lot of action, and the sensory experience is engaging. If you are a fan, this version only adds to the already fascinating world.

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