Lords Of The Realm 3
|a game by||Impressions Games|
|User Rating:||7.0/10 - 2 votes|
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|See also:||RTS Games, Medieval Games|
History lessons are usually dull: statistics, figures and an array of pointless people doing inadvisable things. Medieval history, on the other hand - now that's something else. Boiling oil, spears in faces and large contraptions designed to hurl lumps of masonry into the castles of fat polygamists are guaranteed to wake you up from your pencil-twirling, windowgazing reverie.
And so we come to the LOTR franchise (no, the other LOTR franchise). Last seen eight years ago in 2D turnbased form, the game is returning with a real-time clock ticking, 3D models environs as well as a ledged multiplayer component. Putting you charge of managing resources, strategies and tactics of various medieval forces (mainly those with a thirst for k conquest), it blends the diplomacy of Civilization with all the RTS trimmings of cavalries charging, arrows firing and battering rams pounding.
A recent play revealed a familiar blueprint, yet one smoothed and refined by years of experience. Taking Western Europe from 1066 to about 1430 as its springboard, LOTR III sees you trying to appease the church, feed your subjects and maintain control over your errant knights while playing through scenarios like the Norman Invasion, Barbarossa's campaigns in Italy and the 100 Years War. Micromanagement is streamlined through various vassals such as knights, burghers and members of the clergy, who provide advice and keep riff-raff at arm's length. As a power-crazed monarch, you have to balance these different classes of underling depending on the needs of your territories. Some provide extra groats for your bank balance, for example, while others create new armies or provide food for your existing troops.
Speaking of which, you've got more than enough metal to make the foreign devils quake in their ill-fitting boots. There are eight basic unit types, plus an extra speciality' troop for each of the eight ingame nationalities and a full complement of siege weapons. These include catapults, battering rams, scaling ladders, trebuchets, siege towers, boiling oil and ballistae. Battles take place in real time, so resource management runs alongside your warmongering, and you can jump in and out of skirmishes as you want (putting faith in your military tacticians' humble Al).
The multiplayer contingent isn't the tacked-on afterthought you might expect either, with up to eight players duking it out and carving up lumps of Europe. Another notable feature, established partly from conjecture and partly from a straw poll in the office, is that it's the voiceover guy from Reeves and Mortimer who guides you through the tutorial. We wave our pikes in anticipation.
Download Lords Of The Realm 3
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP
There are certain omens that bode ill for the release of a game. The first is when a new title gets a $20 price tag. Too often, this means that everyone involved knows full well that serious incentives will be needed to shift their substandard title. The second is when a publisher withholds review copies of the game until just days before its release. Nine times out of ten this means it's so scared of what reviewers might say, it'd rather people saw no reviews at all.
Well, the god-awful Lords Of The Realm III fits the bill on both these counts, and never has a theory been so comprehensively vindicated. This is a medieval shit sandwich, and boy did those responsible know it.
The first thing to get round is that this third instalment bares little relation to its predecessors, the second of which was very good. Other than the fact it too depicts medieval kings, barons and dukes vying for control of territory, it's like they ripped up the rule book for LOTR3 and entrusted its re-writing to a particularly cretinous village idiot.
The game runs in laboriously slow real-time. The map is divided into parcels' or regions, each of which can be assigned a vassal. Depending on their area of specialisation, your vassals will create money, food, religious fervour or an army. This is the only economic decision you make - which vassals to place in which regions. You can't construct buildings, research technologies, build troops, raise taxes - nothing. OK, so it's an interesting take on reducing micro-management, but it takes you so far away from the decision-making process you might as well be retired.
Keeping track of your armies is ridiculously hard too, as is assessing strengths relative to the enemy. Even a clear understanding of where each region begins or ends is hard to muster, as the border demarcations are unintelligible. Indeed, easy to digest information is at a premium everywhere in LOTR3.
Lord Save Us
Armies (automatically generated when you place a knight vassal in a region) crawl round the map until they bump into each other, triggering combat. Which is where the game's new-fangled 3D RTS engine comes into play. The less said about this the better, which is worrying as it forms the focus of the game. OK, it has a few of the sleeker elements made common by better RTS titles, but it also has almost nothing new, a truly limited tactical palette and visuals that only look anywhere half-decent when shown static, the size of a postage stamp, on the back of the game box.
God knows what happened to LOTR3, but the usually dependable Impressions Games has lost the plot on this one. Even if you're a long-standing fan of the series - no, especially if you are one - avoid this like a bearded, Black Death-infected Saxon whore.