Lands of Lore III
Although lands of lore: guardians Of Destiny was generally well-received, few could argue that it represented a landmark in games technology. The storyline, plot, character development and overall presentation may have been well up to form, but this couldn't make up for the fact that the game engine looked quite dated when compared to the likes of Quake.
Westwood are well aware that this was the weak point of their last LOL game, but instead of developing a new 3D game engine they decided to work on the 3D sprite technology used in BladeRunner and bring it up to date. But why go for voxels over polygons? "We wanted to introduce as much variety and contrast throughout the game as we could," argues producer Chris Longpre. "Voxel technology gives us a much greater flexibility. We've been able to truly model over 1000 faces and really go to town with the detail without everything slowing down."
Unlike the previous games in the series. Lands Of Lore 3 will feature 65 NPCs (nonplayer characters) and 35 monsters, and offer unprecedented levels of interaction. "We wanted to return to the traditional elements of RPGs," says Chris. "We take you back to Gladstone and just let you explore the town, talk to the people who inhabit it and really push relationships. Our goal is to transport you to this city. Your character will actually live there - you'll have to rent a room and you'll be evicted if you don't pay the rent."
Westwood are focusing more on the character class/skill system, and reintroducing guilds in an effort to get back to return to their KPG roots. As well as choosing their class (mage, warlock, thief and cleric), you'll be able to combine guilds to vary skills, and have familiars on hand that will have real personalities, spells and attacks. However, unlike many other RPGs, you won't be able to put together a party. "The game is essentially plot-lead. We've switched the focus to player interaction. It's like a detective story, and you don't know who the villain is.
Somebody or something has stolen your soul and you've got to get it back. There's only one ending, but you can get there in many different ways. We want the player to be emotionally involved and rewarded."
But will the introduction of 3D hardware technology, new lighting effects, voxel technology and a more scripted approach be enough to make people go back to Gladstone in favour of Britannia? Westwood, at least, are confident they can offer RPG fans a new level of interaction and entertainment. Guess we'll know come the autumn.
Download Lands of Lore III
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.