Lands Of Lore

a game by Westwood Studios
Platform: PC
User Rating: 8.0/10 - 1 vote
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Lands Of Lore
Lands Of Lore
Lands Of Lore
Lands Of Lore

The Lraracles Caves

Your six-handed team (you plus Bacatta) plunge into the caves, a four level complex which involves quite a bit of to-ing and fro-ing between levels. By this stage you should have the lantern, the magnet stone compass, the magic atlas and the spell book. It is also prudent to have a sizeable stash of ginseng on hand (although as your magic skill increases the Heal spell will also cure poison).

Level one

On level 1 pull the horns at A to open up the nearby door. Red, blue, green is the combination for the pit traps at 1. The pits will re-open once youve crossed. If you want to save time, jump back down the first one. This drops you down to level 2 and two buttons will give you a ladder up and a sledgehammer (at 11). Press the button to open up B and splat the pods to rescue Lora.

Go back up to level 1, press the buttons again and this time keep going. At 3 there is a pressure plate which activates nasty flying knives from the east. Weigh this down to stop the metal and youll have a toughish fight at 4. This will give you a very important Emerald Eye, and if you did get down to the pits you will be able to muscle through at 7. There are other goodies on this level including oil flask and ginseng.

Use this level to finalise your battle techniques; note that hit and run may not work too well because of the open pits. Press the button to get through to the chest at 10 and then jump down into the main part of level 2.

Level two

The first cross-roads has a spinner square so use the compass to re-orientate, while a chest at F contains some extra oil and the Sapphire Eye. The parallel passageway to the north is the main track and the dragon mural will give you one of two ways to proceed. Use your eyes and proceed east to enter the Dagger path. Go north and go down the Goblet route. For the purposes of this solution we will look only at the Dagger solution, but try the other when you can.

To complete the Dagger option you must have any two old daggers (if you do not have any with you there are examples on the west of level 3 and the south-east of level 2). Now open up the alcove at G by pushing the button at H. Do the following: read the note and then push the button, pull the horns, press the button on the north wall, pick the lock, push the button again and put one dagger in the niche. Press the button and then put the second dagger in the niche and press the button one final time to open up the west wall.

Beat the monsters and then open up the chest at G to get the Jewelled Dagger; make sure you hang on to this. Note: in Lands of Lore there are a couple ofcritical items which are unique but can be thrown away, making it impossible to finish the game! Do not lose this dagger. Also, in this area, you will find a useful helm and the Freeze spell. At F throw an item across the Pit to hit the button and close things up. The stairs take you down to level 3 (where you can find the daggers mentioned above if you need them).

Level three

Level 3 is straightforward. Collect the empty flasks, pick up any keys and dont be deceived by the pits: they arent what they seem. Push buttons to open up daggers, and walls to end up at a crossroads getting dizzy. Use your compass and head south-east to find another chest to pick or bust and get the red key at J - this opens up the stairs to level 4.

Level four

Level 4 has some nasty monsters but not a great deal more. The pressure plates trigger the fireballs so you must weigh down all the pressure plates. Look for shoddy plastering and use the sledgehammer to wall-bang your way through to the other stairs back to level 3 and Draracles. Once youve clicked on the altar on Draracles screen, youll need either the Jewelled Dagger or the Silver Goblet to satisfy demands and receive the Riddle scroll. The way youve come will no longer be available so take the new route and surface back in Northland Forest. Timothys demise is preordained; listen to what he says and note that you must take it all on board. Go to the lake to Opinwood and speak to a previous acquaintance.

Opinwood and the swamps

The best course in Opinwood is to head towards the swamp and visit the Gorkha. Save some time here and use an empty flask on a swamphole to get one of the elixir ingredients. The sinkholes can be traversed by casting the Freeze spell. Follow the passages around to the Gorkha chieftain. Youll need to be disarming and then hell set you your quest. The swamp monsters have the item in their possession (a fairly innocuous helmet) and youll need to kill them off until you find it. Take the helmet back to the chieftain and get your reward. Equip your main player with this trinket and then return to Opinwood. The Witch Doctor in the swamp can be manipulated to give you free advice (save, ask and restore) but money isnt too much of a problem anyway. In Opinwood seek out Droeks wagon and, as long as you have an honest look gained from the swamp quest the reality of things will Dawn on you (ho ho). This will give you the first of a four part key. Hang on to those that make most noise (if you do the Urbish mines before you speak to Dawn, she will now also give you another item). The north-east corner of Opinwood is well worth a visit and will net you the Lightning scroll.

Its now coming up to the time for the Urbish mines, but before you take that on you will need an item from Upper Opinwood. Go through the Mine entrance but do not open the door to the west (that of course will ensure that most players will now take a save game and try just this!); this monster is just too tough and you need a special item to get past him.

So now (you did try that monster out in the mines didnt you, well you were warned) go north into Upper Opinwood and fill an empty flask with honey. This is the second of the elixir ingredients needed to cure King Dick. The chests here contain some useful items - a Valkyrie crossbow, Dwarvish chain mail (+23) a jade necklace (roguery +1) and the essential cerebral accessory. This green skull is the only way to survive the first fight in the mines so make sure that you dont leave Upper Opinwood without it.

Download Lands Of Lore

PC

System requirements:

  • PC compatible
  • Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP

Game Reviews

If I had a time machine, I wouldn't just go back in time to kill Hitler - I'd kill J.R.R. Tolkein as well. He's the progenitor of all we play. You name them: Betrayal At Krondor, Eye of the Beholder, Dungeon Master, Ultima Underworld, Advanced Ores in Leather Shorts and Elves in Chiffon Jerkins Simulator - all owe a backhander to J.R.

Lord of the Rings was his troll-packed, elf-stacked, wizard-stuffed popularisation of Euromyth. The basic story: lots of middle-aged men with beards and swords falleth with cloven head trying to gain possession of a magic ring, while a small hairy-toed 'halfling' pops it into a large, nearby volcano and destroys it. And did it sell? Did it capture the imagination of an entire subcontinent? Did it influence computer games as we know them?

Just a little bit, I think, as I sit here playing Lands of Lore, programmed and designed by WestWood Associates, the original team behind Eye of the Beholders I & II (but not III) and I'm thinking: 'It's all his fault.' All those trolls, and ores, and elves - they're his fault, too. D&D, AD&D T&T, rpg, npc, hp, dex, con, str, and exp. Magic rings, bronzed warriors with low foreheads, Balrogs, wraiths, and huge worlds with large, green deciduous forests alongside volcanic mountain ranges.

And here I am trapped in the Urbish mines. Cabatta the Thomgog's still with me, but we're running low on both health points and spell points. Constant attacks from Pentrogs and Cabal Warriors don't help, my lantern oil is running low and I can't find the way out!

Dissolve to flashback (in soft focus).

The story

All is not well in the Lands. In fact, things are pretty bad. There's a war on between the heavyweights of the Lands of Lore world: Witch Scotia (evil, cackling and warty) versus King Richard (good, proud and bearded).

King Rick's special move is the nonchalant thronal sitting position and the abrupt fist-slam to punctuate every sentence: 'I must destroy her now!' (slam); 'We must kill everyone!' (slam); 'Where are my moccasins (the burgundy leather ones)?' (slam).

Scotia, on the other hand, is like your favourite granny, but with an anaconda-rinse instead of the usual blue. Her secret weapon is a rather ace ruby ring - the Ruby of Truth to be exact - which she extracted from the Urbish Mines. She can (ab)use its special powers to change her shape; into a crow, or a beautiful woman or even an onion: whatever she likes. Once metamorphosed, she can infiltrate her enemies' stronghold, Castle Gladstone, and use the ring's power to stir the Dark Army to war.

You, after choosing a character from a range of freelance heroes (see panel on the left), are hired by the King to nip over a lake and recover the Ruby of Truth, accompanied by a few of Richard's agents. No sooner do you discover it has been stolen, than you find Castle Gladstone has been ransacked, King Rick poisoned, and there are suspiciously ore-shaped footprints all over the kitchens.

Reviving the King will require four of the most esoteric items in the Lands to formulate an antidote. Having learnt the nature of these four objects, the castle is attacked again. The King's body is stolen, protective magic shield and all. Castle Gladstone's occupants have been scattered to the four winds. Dis-as-ter. So, not only do you have to roam the Lands for the four antidote ingredients, pull together the scattered remnants of King Rick's entourage to form a resistance movement and find where Rick's body is being held, but you also have to explore over 30 levels of 3D first person perspective dungeons plus the requisite 'outsidey' bits.

The quest

The beginning of Lands of Lore, it has to be said, is staged brilliantly. Instead of a long intro, narrated by an American crisp advert actor, going on and on about the story and the Lands and the dwarves and the elves, etc. you actually take part in the unfolding plot.

You're summoned to King Rick, who sends you off to Opinwood to recover the Ruby of Truth. This doubles neatly as a plot turn and a 'starter dungeon'. On the journey to Opinwood you'j-e introduced to selling and bartering, through various weapon and herb vendors en route, fighting (a few rogues and bands of ores block your passage), and levers and buttons, which are dotted about the place. For a seasoned rpg man this first half hour of adventuring is but a trifle. For an rpg virgin, this is a useful and clever entry level into the Lands of Lore system.

The system

The Westwood boys have obviously done their homework. Although the system is the usual mouse driven, flick screen affair (one from which you can draw a thick family tree line via Dungeon Master to Betrayal At Krondor), the boys have added all manner of frills and spills to update the engine. For instance, the screens no longer flick (they rotate graphically through 90 degrees if you're turning, and then 'slide' towards you if you go forward) although you're still restricted to moving in graph paper-style grid blocks. Also, now, if you throw an object ahead of you it doesn't just jerk into the distance, but glides in a smooth bitmapped-scaling sort of a way through the air.

On the frills side, the boys have done away with popping-up icons. Now things sort of materialise. The compass falls down into the screen like a coin and rattles to a standstill; the Magic Atlas (read: auto-mapping feature) appears in a whoosh of flame; even your lantern glows like the real thing. The spells, too, have been given the frilly-lingerie effect. The Heal spell casts a momentary green aura over injured companions and a large angelic chime sounds. Huge great fireballs whomp out of the icon screen and into the playing area. Lightning bolts drench the entire screen in blue, electric waves. And the Freeze spell, at its most powerful, encases any nearby monsters in a block of ice. Very plush.

Later...

But when you get down to it, minus the upmarket Habitat trappings, Lands of Lore is basically a maze-based rpg, and so it must be measured against all its contemporaries.

It measures up well. Its lacy '90s look keeps its appeal for we nouvelle gamesplayers (who have come to expect a little presentation now and again) while its plot-driven storyline and interactive elements add still more.

But the interest level does have a tendency to ebb and flow. After a few hours of continuous play, frankly, I got bored. But a day later, after a rather good French film on Channel 4 took my mind away from little people with oddly shaped ears, I was back, hacking my way through the swamps with a large sledgehammer. The range of locations has something to do with this. You're no longer encased in a level-by-level dungeon; you're out there, soaring through the outdoors, investigating swamps, minor dungeons, castles, towers, mines, forests and all manner of geographic hot spots. Each section has its own unique graphics, perils, characters, monster-basts, subquests and little interactive bits.

Niggles

Niggle-wise, although the gameplay is extremely well staged so you don't end up too dead too early, combat - regardless of the monster - is very samey. The standard two frames of animation per nasty (plus an 'injured' frame) doesn't help; neither does their lack of intelligence. They refuse to run from a continuous onslaught of fireballs nor do they even try to dodge my 11x8 death axe. What? Do they not comprehend that Ak'Shel (son of Ak'Shal) will soon be wearing their hides as a bikini? Puzzles, too, fall into the 'samey' box. Pressure plate and lever combos usually open puzzle-type doors and, while there are cryptic clues sketched on some walls, they're generally of the hangman variety - try working out this combination: 'Lft Righ Ce_ter'. Also, the range of spells (five at the last count) is somewhat limiting for the imaginative spellcaster. And there is but one woman, the wafer-thin vaguely transparent robe-wearing princess.

But, overall, me and the lads (probably about five million of us) are suckers for this kind of extravaganza, and Lands of Lore delivers the goods, well dressed and bulging. It's a tasty and involving reminder of what Eye of the Beholder III could have been and insists, quite pointedly, that the flick-screen dungeon festivals of yore are still alive and kicking and biting through your dwarfs leather codpiece.

The Company You Keep

Out of sync with the usual D&D ethos, Lands discards the 'generate your own half-elf dwarven cleric thief' approach for a 'choose from these lads - they'll do you' selection.

  • Ak'Shel

A Dracoid (half man, half dragon) and, despite the sunken eyes from having spent too many of his teen years at raves, Ak'Shel is a master magician and bugger-ugly to boot.

  • Michael

Now this is what we like to see, a few true-blue humans. A fighter in all senses of the word (i.e. he's thick, aggressive and has a willy noticeably smaller that his +4 battle axe).

  • Kieran

Kieran, or Bubbles as he's known in Kit-e-Kat circles, is a Huline: a sort of cat-cum-human. He's tough, quick on his feet and has a deadly sandpaper tongue. His litter tray may hog your inventory, though.

  • Conrad

Oh, I say, Con-rad is it. La-de-dah. Although you wouldn't say it to his face, Conrad is a bit of a ponce. He describes himself as: 'well rounded,' and, we must concede, he is bit adaptable.

  • Baccata

You can't actually choose Baccata, but he'll join you later in the game. Two sets of Thomdog arms make him formidable both in battle and in bed. He's also pretty much immortal, condemned to spend eternity looking like a bad case of zits.

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