The Dark Army is on the move again, led by the evil sorceress Scotia. Her goal is obvious: To destroy Gladstone Keep and its inhabitant King Richard. Scotia herself has recently become more powerful after acquiring "the Mask" from the Urban Mines, gaining the ability to shape shift. She is virtually unstoppable and able to infiltrate Gladstone Keep, poisoning King Richard. If it were not for the intervention of Sorceress Dawn, this monarch would surely be dead. In order to find a cure for the King's secret, a band of heroes must set out on an adventure, and keep themselves alive from the Dark Army forces.
Lands of Lore: Throne of Chaos is a Real-Time 1st Person Perspective, Dungeon Crawler Role Playing Game. Players begin by choosing from four selectable hero classes, including: Mage, Warrior, Rogue, and a balanced all-round hero. Each has their weaknesses and strengths but all abilities in this game can be upgraded.
The game does not feature manual character development, instead the game introduces a semi-automatic form of leveling up, where skills of the hero and the companions are divided into: Fighting, Magic and Rogue skills. Each skill level will increase when killing enemies using a particular type of attack: Melee weapons increase the Fighting skills, Magic increases the Magic skill and Ranged weapons increases the Rogue skills. In the course of the game players will form a party of up to 3 heroes in the quest for the cure. The player is able to equip these characters with new weapons and armor in a "paper doll" styled interface.
Lands of Lore, another gem from Westwood, is a fantasy RPG which follows the same path that the AD&D giants (Eye of the Beholder, Pool of Radiance, etc.) took to glory. It delivers solid entertainment, with countless hours of fun and action. But let's move on to the actual plot of the game.
The Lands were once ruled by a race called the Ancients. They were all-powerful gods. The age they ruled over was known as the golden age, as the Drakoid chronicles tell us. During this time, the Ancients kept a steady peace. There was no want, and the people lived in harmony, as the Ancients provided for all. But the golden age would not last for long. A terrible war gripped the Lands, a war born of awesome power and evil wills. This was a war of dominance between the most powerful gods and would be known to history as the War of the Heretics. No higher beings survived the war; the Ancients succumbed. This left the people unattended, and they began reverting to a more primitive state. Without a strong hand to guide them, they began to act according to their base instincts. This was a dark period for the Lands, during which much knowledge was lost. The history of the Ancients soon became a myth and their reign a legend. However, nature took its course, and the people began to regain some of their lost knowledge. This was the time of the great travelers, but exploration meant racial wars. Uprisings began to spread across the Lands, plunging them into chaos. Many cultures were annihilated during this period, which lasted for nearly a millennium. Ultimately acceptance and tolerance between the four dominant races led to peace and the formation of the White Alliance. However, during the wars, magic had been set loose: magic unhealthy and nefarious. Soon this malicious magic found a home within the Dark One, leader of the dark army, and a terrible union of chaos and destruction was forged.
Now the dark armies have gathered to attack Gladstone, a center for education and magic in the Lands, which has been staunchly defended by the White Alliance for three generations. Rumors speak of a dark power, which the seer Draracle has predicted will destroy Gladstone and the White Alliance.
An emissary arrives at the Keep. He informs King Richard, ruler over Gladstone, that Scotia (an evil old hag) has found the Nether Mask. Richard is very disturbed by the news and is bent on destroying Scotia. Meanwhile, Scotia has also dug up a magical ring enabling her to transform into any shape she chooses. Now more powerful than ever, she vows to make Richard pay.
After this short intro movie, the game prompts you to choose a champion to defend Gladstone and serve the king. You can choose between a magician, a fighter, and an assassin, or play as a warrior who is a mix of them all. Once you have selected your character, King Richard orders you to come to the throne room. After wandering beside the castle walls for a while, you find His Majesty and receive your orders: you must retrieve the Ruby of Truth from Roland's estate in the South Lands.
Now your quest really begins.
During the game, you will team up with different characters in your quest to kill Scotia. Gameplay is mouse-based, which really makes the interface easy to use. The game's graphics are characteristic of Westwood - hand-drawn and very beautiful. It is clear that when the team set out to make another RPG (after Eye Of The Beholder), they were aiming to create a masterpiece. The game has speech and sound effects included. King Richard is voiced by Patrick Stewart, who is simply marvelous. The rating of 5 needs no further justification.
The game seems to have problems with faster processors, so if you are running DOSBox 0.73 or higher, you must write command "cputype 386" (without quotes) before the start of the game, otherwise the game will freeze after the character selection. If you don't feel like writing this every time you start the game, simply edit the value in the DOSBox's configuration file.
Westwood's Lands of Lore: Throne of Chaos is sequel in spirit to acclaimed Eye of The Beholder 2, but surpasses its AD&D predecessor in every way. The game broke new grounds with astounding graphics, great soundtrack, intuitive user interface, great spell effects and plot development, and last but not least, excellent automap.
Lands of Lore begin with an intriguing, albeit cliche, premise that is no less dynamic than those in Eye of The Beholder series. While consulting with Geron his counselor, King Richard of Gladstone received an alarming news: after countless futile attempts, Scotia the mad sorceress finally obtained the nether mask, a magical artifact that grants the wearer the power to change into any form. He immediately entrusts to his champion (you, of course) and the task of destroying Scotia once and for all. Westwood eschews traditional RPG character creation in favor of simple statistics, but for the most part, it works. You can choose from 4 characters depending on your preference in weapons/magic balance.
Rarely has an RPG -- or any game for that matter-- been able to entice the player into its world as quickly as Lands of Lore. I remember playing the game for the first time, exploring Gladstone Keep and the forest beyond, collecting all sorts of neat items, battling well-drawn monsters, casting a few spells with amazing effects, seeing my character gain a few levels, annotating the best automap I've ever seen, watching amazing plot development through in-game cutscenes... the next thing I knew, the sun had come up. The game had kept me playing for 6 hours straight-- I can't think of a better recommendation than this :)
Lands of Lore remains to this day one of the most accessible RPGs that stand the test of time, with the power to convert even the most ardent RPG dissenters into hapless addicts. It may not be original or even revolutionary, but it is definitely a flawless execution. The CD-ROM version features the voice of Patrick Stewart as King Richard, along with other multimedia enhancements that make the game even more atmospheric than the floppy version. As a game design, it is a role model; as a game, it is simply a must-have.
Personally I consider this one of the mother's of RPG games at the beginning you are asked to choose a hero by the King of the story played by good old Patrick Stewart. There are four heroes to choose from, each varying in the abilities your character will need for the game, however Conrad always seems the most rounded and if you have never played the game before I suggest choosing him. The game then starts straight away within the King's castle, you may visit the herbarium and the armoury for medicines and weapons before you start your journey. During your journey you will travel through forests, swamps, caves, mines, castle's and dungeons. You also do not always travel alone, several characters will join and leave your party throughout the game. Lands of Lore also comes with an auto-mapping feature, you will find in the library at the beginning of the game, which is immensely useful.
The whole point of the game is to track down the evil witch Scotia, mistress of shape-change and destroy her - sounds easy however it takes an immense amount of time. You will find yourself sitting in front of the computer for hours with this game.
The graphics look a little ancient, but I play a lot of old games, especially dos and I find this one quiet easy to look at compared to others of its time. Of course as with many old games you do have the plain forward, back, left and right functions, meaning you can turn a corner and have an opponent ahead of you already slashing away. I recommend always having the sound on, else you will find your life going down and wondering why until you turn your character full circle to find a large lizard has been eating away at you for about half an hour.
I think anyone who enjoys RPG will love this game, the characters are well thought out, the maps of all areas are excellent and exciting to explore, the villains are fun to hack away at - especially with the strength feature, choosing whether you'd like your monsters to be wimpy or vicious! And there is plenty of hours of fun for your money - it's a game I have played over and over again. My advice is, pay attention, if you miss something it's hard to go back, also pick up everything! However steer clear of collecting too many rocks in your inventory, otherwise you won't have enough space for the important things. Also be aware Scotia is a shape-changer, she appears in many forms, so be careful who you talk to. Lastly, if you get stuck, don't give up, sometimes there are several ways around a problem in this game.
BUT, note that in the mines there is occasionally a glitch with the first pit and teleport combination you come across, you may need to press the wall button a few times instead of just once, which is the usual rule, to get it working.
People who downloaded Lands of Lore: The Throne of Chaos have also downloaded:
Lands of Lore 2: Guardians of Destiny, Lands of Lore 3, Eye of The Beholder 2, Eye of The Beholder 1, Eye of The Beholder 3, Elder Scrolls, The: Daggerfall, Ishar 1, Ishar 3
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