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Lands of Lore - The Throne of Chaos
Scotia's mineAt the beginning of the 1990s, Westwood had already won their first laurels in the field of role-playing games with Eye of the Beholder I & II, although they had developed these games for SSI. When SSI wanted to repeat the success of the prequels with EOB III, Westwood refused to do the job. Instead, they preferred to produce their own game that wasn't subject to a publisher. Therefore, SSI developed EOB III themeselves, and failed to pull it off. In contrast to Westwood, who published Lands of Lore (1993) that many considered the inofficial successor to the above-mentioned games. While combining the two major advantages of the EOB series (good playability, gripping story), Lands of Lore featured gorgeous graphics compared to the standard at that time.
 
Scotia und Richard:
The way to the castleThe intro alone was unparalleled, charming the player's eye with breathtaking, hand-drawn graphics. On the right hand side, you can see some pictures taken from the intro, although they can only partly convey the atmospherical depth of the game. The story told of the evil witch Scotia, who, with the help of the magical Nether Mask, attempted to go for King Richard's rightful throne and seize control of the land. Being the untamed hero, you naturally left no stone unturned to thwart her sinister plans. Unfortunately, you had to witness how Scotia, in the disguise of another person, poisoned King Richard and lay waste to the city of Gladstone. With renewed vigour, you then travelled through deep forests, noxious swamps, dimly lit dungeons, besieged cities and eerie towers inhabited by ghosts, incessantly on the hunt for a remedy as well as for vile Scotia.
 
The gorgeous "Lands":
A messenger bearing ill newsIn more than one way, Lands of Lore entered uncharted role-playing waters. For example, unlike most role-playing games you didn't generate your own character but had to choose from existing ones. In the course of the game, you could bolster your party with two more characters, among them a formidable Thomgog, who easily decimated your foes with his four powerful arms. The skill system was limited to merely three basic abilities that could be improved by steady training. Moreover, only a handful of spells filled your magical roll, but as some sort of solace these spells had been gorgeously animated. A map helped you keep your bearings by automatically cartographing your surroundings, including secret passages. For some, these aspects represented the weak spots of the game, since they thought it too easy to guarantee many hours of fun. Others, however, perceived these points as especially appealing, giving novices quick access to the Lands of Lore.
Be it as it may, Lands of Lore was undoubtedly worth the time you spent on. In particular that can be put down to the fine SVGA graphics and the sound, creating highly atmospheric settings. Numerous minor cutscenes as well as your lively party members gave the game some "real" touch. Although you still moved in blocky steps (so to speak) as introduced by good old Dungeon Master, the graphics scrolled between two blocks as shown by Ultima Underworld the very same year.
Details:
Producer:
Westwood

Released:
In 1993

Nostalgia:
high

System:
Windows

Playable?
more or less

Available?
-

Links:
Ultima Uw.
Nox
The trilogy:
The King and his advisorAfter the release of the disk version, the CD ROM version shipped only some time later, featuring Patrick "Jean-Luc Picard" Stewart who narrated the background story of the Lands. Since it was originally planned as a trilogy, in 1998 Lands of Lore II - Guardians of Destiny appeared, followed by Lands of Lore III in 1999. Both sequels didn't live up to the greatness of the original, though. Not only did the "new" 3D graphics engine seem to be out of date by the time of release, also the games themselves just didn't have the right feel, lacking somewhat in atmosphere. That's all the more disappointing since the first installment showed well enough how a temporary RPG should look like, irrespective of the fact that it wasn't without fault.
Westwood's tradition of role-playing games ends, for the time being at least, with Lands of Lore III, although they had started off so promisingly in the early 1990s. They did land a substantial success in the field of action adventures with their great Nox last year, but it was far from a full-blown RPG. The fourth part of Lands of Lore, however, is unlikely ever to be developed.
© 2000 by CE

 
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