Lands of Lore III

Developer/Publisher:  Westwood Studios
Year Released:  1999

Review by Clint Mullins (April, 1999)
lol3.jpgThe first Lands of Lore holds a fond place in my heart. I actually purchased a PC to play it as it would not be released for my Amiga 1200. It was step based, and I remember thinking when I played it that one day there would be computers capable of rendering this world in 3D. Lands of Lore 2 attempted just that, and for me was a real disappointment. The graphics were imaginative but generally pixelated and murky. The game started well, but then seemed to lose impetus.

Lands of Lore 3 has achieved what Lands of Lore 2 set out to do and produce a game that crossed genres and was relatively easy to play. LOL3 ends up being a playable, first person adventure with role-playing elements, but it manages to have more of an rpg feel than the last effort.

You cannot create your own character in LOL3. You play Copper Legre, an illegitimate heir to the throne. During the intro sequence your soul is stolen and your objective is to get it back... Oh! and you also have to save the world.

As you cannot create your character the guilds give the best opportunity for character development. There are four guilds and you can join any combination of these. I joined all four and managed to progress well in each one. As you progress you also pick up special skills.

From one of these guilds you can pick a familiar who will accompany and help you on your adventures. Their skills are related to their particular guild.

One of the biggest gripes people had about LOL2 was the lack of 3D acceleration. A patch eventually appeared improving things quite a bit. This game uses basically the same engine but with 3D acceleration built in.

It performed quite nicely with my Voodoo 2 card and only stuttered a bit when there were six or more monsters on screen. This does not occur very often. I found some of the interior designs to look excellent and some imagination had gone into the design of the architecture. Outside in the forest we still have those unfortunate painted-on trees. Overall though I found the graphics to be more than suitable for this type of game. The cut-scenes used motion capture for the animations and were some of the best I have seen. I especially enjoyed the cut-scene introducing the Underworld. Once seen they can be clicked through.

The sound is generally atmospheric with some rather impressive music. The voice acting is very well done and genuinely humorous in parts. There is no text option for conversations but the journal does record pertinent points. My familiar was very chatty, but I never got sick of her. I was impressed by some of the event-driven conversations with the familiar that only occurred once, as well as many more generic comments.

The interface is well designed and playable. Included in the game is a journal that describes all objects as they are found, all monsters as you meet them, and all the spells. It also provides an excellent automap with zoom functions and the ability to annotate, a description of your levels at each guild and a brief summary of conversations with NPCs.

Combat and spell casting is a simple click and point affair but works well enough.

The story unfolds very well and I actually found myself listening to all characters instead of clicking through them. The game seems to be able to generate different experiences for different players as I was comparing notes with friends playing the game. Although reasonably linear in that areas only open up after certain actions, the order in which to do things can change outcomes. I was unable to complete certain quests as an event took place that prevented me. This is not a bug and the quests are not integral to the game. It was interesting to note the number of posts on the Internet regarding some seemingly missing objects early in the game that weren't really necessary.

I enjoyed this game a lot more than I thought I was going to. It had some excellent moments that have stayed with me after completing the game. My biggest complaint is that completing it did not take that long. I think I clocked up about 30 to 35 hours to finish the game and for an rpg I feel that is too short. I never found the game all that difficult although, to be fair, it was rewarding. I think there are over 50 spells available and I only used a sword and a low level heal spell for most of the game.

I don't think the game will hold much of a challenge for experienced gamers but I still feel they will enjoy the game. It is not a true role-playing game but it does successfully blend the genres more than many other games that have attempted to do so (eg Wizardry Nemesis, Dragon Lore 2). I felt the game was a little light on the puzzle solving but some of the puzzles, especially in the Underworld level were original and well thought out. rating:  

Copyright © Clint Mullins 1999. All rights reserved.

System requirements:
Windows 95/98, Pentium 166 or higher, 32MB RAM, 450MB HD space, 4xCDROM or faster, 16-bit DirectSound compatible sound card, DirectX6 compatible video card (2MB RAM) mouse. Native support for Voodoo and Voodoo 2 3Dfx chipsets. All other 3D hardware support via Direct 3D.