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Lords of Everquest Review
publisher: Sony Online Entertainment
developer: Rapid Eye Ent.
PIII 1000, 256MB RAM, 32MB Video Card
|ESRB rating: T
release date: Dec 01, 03 (released)
|» All About Lords of Everquest on ActionTrip|
MMO enthusiasts no doubt recognize this one thanks to the well-established EverQuest franchise. Sony Online Entertainment, the creators of EQ, are currently under the limelight, thanks to titles like Planetside, Star Wars galaxies, and, of course, the long awaited full-blown sequel to EverQuest (expected to arrive on March the 14th, 2004). This year SOE made a surprising move by converting its hugely popular MMO franchise EverQuest to the RTS genre. There's no question that thousands of EQ devotees will immediately buy the game regardless of what they may read in the following review. Still, we encourage all gamers to take a gander at what we have to say before they purchase Lords of EverQuest.
As you'd expect it, the game introduces players to familiar realms and characters from EverQuest. There are three extensive single-player campaigns, each of which delivers a separate plot following specific events, characters, and races. Conveniently enough, you are welcome to try out any of the campaigns in no particular order and see which race suits you best. Lords of EverQuest allows you to play with the following factions: Shadowrealm, Elddar Alliance, and Dawn Brotherhood. The Shadowrealm, lead by the Overlord of Neriak, are a truly powerful and extremely nasty bunch. Here players have to face up to the challenges throughout a great civil war. In the Elddar Alliance, players have to complete several important tasks in order to find their missing leader. Playing with the Dawn Brotherhood forces you to repel constant attacks from the Elddar Alliance. The good thing is that all campaigns occur in the same timeline, but follow completely different characters and events. That's why we kind of expected more from the basic storyline. We were rather discouraged to find a somewhat flimsy interpretation of what is otherwise a relatively solid fantasy franchise. It also seems as if very little effort had gone into characterization and plot structure, thanks to which the game could easily come off as a monotonous experience for average gamers, especially those who have absolutely no knowledge of the EverQuest back-story. Likewise, true-hearted EQ fans might be disappointed when they discover the game reveals precious little about certain realms, characters, and events. Surprisingly, the cut-scenes are quite short, so I guess if you become really bored with the story, at least it won't take up too much of your time.
After seeing the game in action, it's likely to expect that certain gamers will want to pelt the developers for mimicking several elements from Blizzard's indisputable triumph Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos. Then again, it is our firm belief that you shouldn't impulsively discard the game on the notion of it being a mere Warcraft III rip-off. The gameplay is fluent and straightforward, and you'll get to experience a pleasing amount of RTS and RPG facets through a variety of challenging missions and well-designed maps. For one thing, it's safe to say most gamers will appreciate what the developers did with the interface. Each little bar or icon can be moved to a preferable part of the screen, giving you the freedom to adjust the game to your specific needs (a feature often omitted in many strategies nowadays).
There's a commendable range of units to employ throughout each mission. For example, Lady Sakti, a gifted human monk and a distinguishing heroine of the Dawn Brotherhood, uses a handy spell called Feign Death. This particular spell temporarily convinces enemies that your heroine is dead, which poses a huge tactical advantage during battle. Of course, other races have special knacks too... like the Shadowrealm. In various situations each unit; from a simple-mined Ogre Warrior to a cunning Dark Elf Rouge (the Trickster); proves to be a useful addition to Shadowrealm ranks. The Trickster is a versatile unit equipped with lethal traps which may be dispersed throughout the map, significantly weakening enemy troops as they move along. Tricksters are also remarkably gifted spies and can be used as efficient stealthy recon units to provide you with the info on enemy positions. An agreeable array of well-balanced units should give enough room for players to exercise different strategies during gameplay.
Next to the tactical aspect of gameplay, Lords of EverQuest treats players to a few cool RPG rudiments. Your hero characters are able to improve the performance of ordinary units by casting diverse spells and incantations. For instance, the malevolent Lord Skass of the Shadowrealm, possess a unique spell through which he summons a skeleton warrior to strengthen his army. Also, leveling unlocks additional powers, considerably increasing the character's melee skills. The developers also put in a vast range of magic items for you to toy with. When equipped, a magic item boosts specific characteristics of its wearer. A most praiseworthy moment is that magic items are not restricted to hero characters; any unit in your ranks may pick up and use any item. Another complementary feature is that ordinary units are susceptible to leveling just as much as heroes. Thankfully, unit leveling is performed automatically, so you won't have to worry about unnecessary micromanaging. Sure, it's fair to conclude that these are just minor variations over the concepts essentially introduced by Blizzard Entertainment, but this is neither the first nor the last title to go down this path. Though the gameplay doesn't offer any real novelties, it kind of worked for this reviewer.
No matter which race you choose, the economy is rather simple. The only resource you have to manage is platinum - in fact most missions revolve around vital platinum reserves on the map, so you'll quickly grasp its importance. Although some players might prefer to see different means of income for each race, the inclusion of a single resource institutes a simple and stable economy and that, once again, reduces micromanaging.
6.9 Above Average
Fluent RTS/RPG gameplay with enough features and campaigns to keep players occupied, good multiplayer support;
Needs more depth and character, unoriginal, some AI problems, mediocre visuals.