Lords of EverQuest

a game by Sony Computer Entertainment
Platform: PC
Rating: 6/10

As an MMORPG, Everquest is an established, respected, and flourishing franchise. But while practically synonymous with MMORPGS, EverQuest is known only as a MMORPG. That, however, will be changing with Lords of EverQuest, a RTS title set in the world of Norrath. How will it be known as an RTS? Well, let's put it this way: Lords of EverQuest does some things right, some things wrong, and then some things are just done really, really wrong -- The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly, if you will.

Lords of EverQuest doesn't look half bad. The overall look is a love it or hate it deal, but I think it works, though it's nothing special technically. LoE is also host to some fantastic voice-acting talent, such as John Rhys-Davies (better known as Gimli in the Lord of the Rings movies). Some of the lines seem forced, but on the whole, it's a commendable effort. The online aspect is probably LoE's greatest strength. Multiplayer matches can provide some fun with enticing maps and stable servers, although finding someone to play with can be a bit hard since SoEGames.com is still a ghost town.

The Bad One of the bigger problems in Lords is that there's no real diversity between the three different sides. Yes, there's a different story for each campaign and there are different units for each side, but there's no unit that really stands out for any them. Aside from the abilities of the lord, all three sides play the same, more or less. Another major dilemma lies in the AI. Units will often run off and do their own thing when confronted with an impassable barrier. Likewise, units are overly aggressive and the commands like defend, stand ground, and protect do next to nothing. Both of these problems lead to the bane of RTS titles: lots and lots of micromanaging.

The Ugly Lords of EverQuest seems to be missing one key component of the RTS formula: strategy. A bulk of the missions take place on maps with linear progression where the only real strategy revolves around making a sufficient amount of units and then herding them around to the objective locations. It feels like you're just jumping through hoops in the single player campaign instead of actually coming up with strategic ways to tackle missions. This doesn't taint the multiplayer experience, but it's a major reason why the single player campaign can be such a bore.

I wanted to like Lords of EverQuest -- really, I did -- but I just couldn't. There are just too many problems with its core gameplay for it to be a worthwhile and enjoyable experience. In the end, Lords of EverQuest is a mediocre game in a sea of refined and polished strategy games. Perhaps it's a bit unfair to compare Lords of EverQuest to an established RTS series like, say, WarCraft 3 -- after all, Rome wasn't built in a day, right? Unfortunately, that excuse won't actually fix of any of LoE's problems.

Hardcore RTS fans should avoid Lords of EverQuest while others interested in the concept (ie: EverQuest fans) should checkout the demo before taking the plunge.

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