You are sent to get a magical stone, but then problems happen as usual. And you end with no kingdom backing you, and no good guy’s army, just the mean people’s one. What does it means? Oh, you know it well: you have just become the last hope for getting rid of the evil witch and her magical ring.
Forget the plot, nothing new, move along. Let’s look at what you really have in front of you: a dungeon romp. You travel through mansions, swamps, mines, towns and whatever is in you way, but they really are a lot of dungeons.
And if you expect they won’t be plain corridors twisting around as if the master architect was on psychedelics, great, because they aren’t plain corridors. They just have really weird and overly complex designs. But at least it is along the two things I like on dungeon games: a variety of places and open space zones.
That way you feel you are exploring around, instead of feeling trapped along a lot of bad guys who got lost while waiting for you to hack them in half. You even have a nice automap, and each region you go to is divided in a bunch of zones through which you can move the way you wish, visiting shops, talking to people and finding objects in a freely way.
These objects you got from the ground are not just a sword, a helmet, another sword and a few fancy killing tools, I must note. Ok, they are a bunch of fancy killing tools mostly, except for the healing herbs or the keys (and the much more useful lockpicks). Because I must say all those oil flasks are there on the snapshots just for taking space, that lantern thing is just a little gimmick. You are supposed to be worried of having no oil for the lantern? That is plainly bothersome, and no light just means a bit of darkness.
I’ll go back to the problems later. I was going to say all these shiny things you find around are little more than wands with different icons. But using a crystal skull to cast a deadly spell, or a jewelled goblet for healing is much more fun than waving a piece of wood and *poof*, something happens.
As usual, not all is perfect. Dungeons get longer the more you advance. Too long I must say, for the engine is just like in Eye of the Beholder and, well, there is just so much fun a dungeon can give before you notice you got trapped inside a never-ending blocky corridor.
And also, like most dungeon cleaning games, it gets repetitive, as the characters and game barely change from beginning to end. Yes, there are some levels to raise (as the RPG watermark seems to demand), but they won’t help you much.
And the biggest thing, after all this, I feel like I said nothing. You know why? Because this game adds nothing to the genre, but they knew it and just made a fun one.
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.
This review has been taken from the original Home of the Underdogs (http://www.the-underdogs.info)
Fade in on a formidable fortress. The ominous music is soon accompanied by the frantic sound of hooves as a horseman gallops into view. The portcullis is raised, allowing him entry. He is a messenger, delivering unto Geron and King Richard of Gladstone a note containing dire news: "Scotia has uncovered the temple, and will have the Nether Mask soon." Naturally, Scotia must be defeated and the kingdom saved from eternal peril.
This impressively animated sequence begins Lands of Lore: The Throne of Chaos, the first of Westwood Studios' famous trilogy. A spiritual successor of sorts to the acclaimed first two Eye of the Beholder games, The Throne of Chaos hones and polishes the dungeon crawler aesthetic into a feast for the senses: beautiful pixel art featuring smooth scrolling, which gives the game a remarkable 3D feel; an excellent musical score by Westwood maestro Frank Klepacki; and an engaging (if not overly original) storyline with entertaining characters and creative enemies. Indeed, the evil old hag Scotia presents a visage you won't easily forget.
Rather than create individual, customized characters, players can choose from one of four pre-designed options: Ak'Shel, a Dracoid specializing in magic; Michael, a human whose strength is fighting; Kieran, a Huline who's quick on his feet and something of a rogue; and Conrad, a human well-rounded in all three traits. The four options lend the game much replay value, as the different skill sets do require different approaches - at least at the beginning of the game, for things start to even out if you take the time to build your hero's stats.
Eventually, your hero will be joined by others as your quest progresses. Some, such as Timothy and Lora, only accompany you through certain areas, while the four-armed Thomgog Baccatta and Gladstone Council Member Paulson are with you for good once they join up. As the areas become larger and the monsters more ferocious, the extra hands will be most appreciated.
The Throne of Chaos may not reinvent the wheel, but it certainly gives it a fine tune-up, offering a title that's engaging and runs like a well-oiled machine. Though the diskette version may lack perks like full voice-acting (Patrick Stewart's involvement was touted as a major selling point), the engrossing gameplay makes any version worthwhile.