When I first picked up the box I was not sure how I was going to like Lands of Lore 3. The original Lands of Lore rates as one of my all time favorites, but LoL2, while not bad, did not measure up to the original.
My first impression of LoL3 was good. The box was visually impressive and based on the pictures, the graphics looked awesome to say the least. A quick look at the box told me that there were the four standard guilds or classes to choose from, and something new — a guild familiar for each guild. I have to admit, the guild familiar idea sparked my interest and I quickly pulled out the first CD and ran the install program, hopping right into the game.
After a really cool intro, I was in the game, but not picking a guild. I pulled the manual out of the box and flipped through until I found out about the guilds. You can join just one or even all four, but you join them within the game. You also get to pick out your familiar and it does not have to be from a guild that you join.
I think this is one of the neatest innovations that I have seen in a while. I read the manual, and picked out a combination that I thought would be interesting. I ended up joining The Order of the Finch (cleric) and The Iron Ring (fighter) guilds and I chose my familiar from the Talamari (mage) guild, although I really liked the personality of Syruss, a ferret and the familiar for the Bacchanal (thieves guild). I guess I should point out that while you can join all four guilds if you so desire, you advance by gaining experience points, and those points are divided up between the guilds that you chose, thus you advance a lot slower if you join multiple guilds.
During the cut scenes the graphics are, as I said earlier, impressive. Unfortunately, I did not find the graphics while playing the game to be as good. For the most part the graphics were fair. But I was especially displeased with how blurry things became if you get close to them, and people I interacted with were always blurry. The monsters on the other hand were generally visually pleasing. And it was easy to spot items on the ground. Little knot holes in trees were a bit harder to spot, especially if you are standing near the tree.
I found combat to be a very easy point and hit system. The game even selects between ranged and melee weapons automatically. That way if you’re shooting arrows at a pack of wild boars and one comes up behind you and starts hitting you with his tusks, you can easily turn around and hit him with your axe. If you’re more into realism then you may not like this feature, as realistically it takes time to switch weapons. The one problem that I did have with the combat system is that smaller creatures can get in under your viewing area and you have to keep retreating so that you can find them again to swing.
If you end up joining either the mage or cleric guilds you will gain the ability to cast spells both in and out of combat. There are a wide variety of spells that can be purchased. And there are also a variety of magic items in the game including rings, swords, and shields. Spell casting uses the same, easy to use, point and click system as the combat system I mentioned earlier. The variety of spells is, from my experience, very good. There are spells to aid your character or attack your enemies and even some spells to aid your familiar. I should also point out that your familiar may also be able to cast spells.
In conclusion, I found the overall story to be really good. I found all of the signs in the forest to be a bit on the annoying side, mostly from a role-playing standpoint. As far as the interface goes I found it to be easy to understand and overall very user friendly. There was a lot of information available in the journal, but I have to admit that I rarely checked it until after the fact. I would have preferred it if my familiar just told be about things, rather than saying, "I know about that, but you’re going to have to check your journal."
I really liked the guild system and I especially enjoyed both picking your profession within the game and getting to pick out a familiar. I just can’t say enough about the latter. I was a little disappointed with the graphics, my expectations may just be to high, but I don’t think so. Overall I rate this game at 3 and 1/2 GiN gems.
It’s a really fun game, but I was hoping for more. Especially with games like Baldur’s Gate out there on the market, RPGs really have to be something special to capture experienced fantasy gamers in their web.
Now if you will bear with me for a second I am going to step on my soap box and say a few words. When you auto update this game, a feature that I think should be included with every game, you are asked if you would like to register your game with Westwood.
I don’t mind doing this, so I said ok, but I started getting a bit annoyed when I had to fill in every bit of personal information before I could proceed. Ok, I can accept that, they want to know as much about me as possible. I just stuck in a few "0" where I did not want to answer. The final straw however for me that ended the registration process as far as I was concerned was that at the very end they announced that free email accounts are not acceptable — and then they make you start over with a blank form.
At that point I hit the cancel button and moved on to downloading the update. I don’t like having to start over when I am voluntarily giving them my information. If they are not going to accept that same email address that other companies take without complaint, then they are just not going to get one from me. I happen to check my hotmail account several times a day and I even read most of the mail I get, especially from gaming companies. This did not affect the rating of the game, but it did reduce my overall enjoyment of the title.