A funny thing happened to Lands of Lore: Guardians of Destiny while it was on it's way to store shelves, namely, state-of-the art graphics and game engines passed it by. However, the project was seen through to it's end with the result being a fine role-playing, first-person perspective 3D graphic adventure without the latest enhancements of the industry standards. That's not to say the game isn't a good one -- it most definitely is and contains enormous game play rewards, an interesting and engaging story and plenty of wondrous cut scenes and colorful realistically rendered environments.
The interface takes some getting used to. Nearly every key on the keyboard can be assigned some function or other and mouse support can be toggled on or off at the push of a button. Movement in the game is for the most part smooth and simple to operate. One minor complaint as far as controls go is the occasional lag time you experience between the time a key is pushed and the activation of the command. For example, when pressing the key (default is T) to toggle movement on with the mouse (rather than keyboard directional movement), it may be necessary to press it a number of times when disengaging that particular function before it responds. Load times of certain scenes are not as instantaneous as most gamers have become accustomed to with the occasional fleeting blank screen the result. My biggest gripe though is the on-screen action of your character which allows him to simply walk through structures encountered in the game (a good example is the opening cave exploration where stalactites and stalagmites are seen as obstacles but not treated as such).
Fortunately, as mentioned, nearly every control is customizable and there are a lot of command possibilities, so the learning curve can be as much as a half hour or so (just to memorize all the key strokes). The voice acting in Lands of Lore: Guardians of Destiny is for the most part done professionally and well. The human actors are quite animated and pleasing to watch and the "live" action cut scenes are entertaining and nicely directed. Although nicely designed, the inventory and magic management can be slightly awkward at times, especially when you mix your mouse and keyboard functions. The story is first rate and the overall look of the game is flashy but oddly enough, certain close-up encounters (especially landscape features) are pixellated while other scenes are gorgeously rendered.
With the 3Dfx patch available, 3D acceleration is smooth and sure. The core of the game is the storyline which is wonderfully developed through the normal machinations of role playing and adventuring fare, including a well designed magical aspect, moderate but fair puzzle solving, an interesting take on combat and good, involved NPC interaction. Unlike many games in the genre, you control only one character, Luther, throughout the game. Quibbles aside, Lands of Lore: Guardians of Destiny offers a solid adventure, a pleasing game world in which to interact and with four CD's, plenty of bang for your buck.
Graphics: Occasional pixelation is a minor annoyance. Game environment is very mood enhancing with well drawn characters and professionally done human cut scenes and encounters.
Sound: Voice acting and musical score is very impressive. Ambient sounds are well constructed and utilize realistic Doppler effects.
Enjoyment: Limited to one character to control. A very large game world, plenty of NPCs and beasts to interact with and a top notch storyline. Smooth game play with occasional shaky glitches when trapped in a particular spot in the environment, but not a major concern. Good adventure with some marginally difficult magic aspects (e.g., learn by trial and error which ingredients to mesh together to make useful potions). The morphing aspect of the game is enjoyable. At first you cannot control the morphing change into either a powerful raging beast or a quick, magically inclined lizard, but the unexpected and spontaneous change to one of these entities provides great reactionary possibilities (now where was that tiny crevice to get in the secret room?) and is quite innovative and well done.
Replay Value: With only one character to control, replay is limited as the story remains pretty much the same. However, it should be noted that you don't actually generate your character at the beginning. All attributes and abilities are improved (or not) based on your actions within the game, thus, if you rely on magical power over physical strength, the character improves in those areas the most and vice versa.
Guardians of Destiny is the sequel to Throne of Chaos, the original Lands of Lore game. Unlike Lands of Lore 1, Guardians of Destiny is an action RPG which occurs in real-time 3D (much like Daggerfall). The game features numerous video sequences featuring computer graphics and live actions, thus taking up 4 CD-ROMs.
In Guardians of Destiny you are Luther, the son of Scotia (the main villain in the original game). In her quest for power and revenge Scotia accidentally set into motion the revival of Belial, God of Evil. Now that she's dead, it's up to you to clean up the mess left behind and stop Belial from reviving and doing all sorts of naughty things to the world.
You are not without help... with her dying breath Scotia gave Luther her mighty powers of shapeshifting, but through an error Luther received the powers in a damaged formed: he cannot control when he changes or what he changes into.
Things aren't easy for Luther. Not only is he cursed with his mother's power, but the people of the Lands are understandably upset with Scotia and will attempt to take their frustration out on Luther. But with his mother's magic and a little help from the Draracle (another god and Belial's parole officer) Luther just might be able to fulfill his destiny and stop Belial.
People who downloaded Lands of Lore 2: Guardians of Destiny have also downloaded:
Lands of Lore 3, Lands of Lore: The Throne of Chaos, Icewind Dale, Eye of The Beholder 3, Might and Magic 7: For Blood and Honor, Might and Magic 9, Icewind Dale 2, Might and Magic 6: The Mandate of Heaven
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