Lionheart: Legacy of the Crusader

Lionheart: Legacy of the Crusader

A look at an altered history
Developer / Distributor: Reflexive Entertainment / Interplay Ent.
Release Date: 13 Aug 2003

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Rating: ESRB – Teen

GamersGate - Buy and download games for PC andWhat if you took a period in time and altered it’s history into something totally different? Well, that’s what Reflexive Entertainment did with Lionheart: Legacy of the Crusader (L:LotC).

The story goes like this… sometime in Aug 1191, when Lionheart was tricked into killing 3000 prisoners at the Siege of Acre, an event known as the Disjunction occurred. What happened that tragic day shall remain in the minds of the survivors of that cataclysmic event – a rift tore opened and magic and monstrous demons came pouring into our world.

The story then zooms forward into the 16th century, the center stage for L:LotC’s main story. The world has changed greatly after the Disjunction. Living with humans are three other magical races, the Demokin, the Feralkin and the Sylvants. There is however, more than meets the eye when you assume the role of the protagonist. This you will only discover later on in the adventure.

At first dubbed as Fantasy Fallout, L:LotC has become an admirable niche game that even Harry Turtledove would have loved at first sight today.

Looks to be promising

The character creation process in L:LotC is quite an involved process; fortunately, you only have to create one character. You can choose from a short list of pre-generated characters or create your very own. I prefer to create my very own hero character by selecting the Custom button.

Create your SPECIAL character

The creation process is done in eight steps:

  1. Select a race – from Human, Demokin, Feralkin, and Sylvant.
  2. Choose your gender and select a portrait.
  3. Distribute points to your seven attributes that is based on the SPECIAL system (also seen in the game Fallout). Each letter stands for one of the seven attributes. They are – Strength, Perception, Endurance, Charisma, Intelligence, Agility and Luck.
  4. For non-humans, you must select a racial trait that distinguishes your character. You can choose from ten choices and they include traits such as Chameleon Skin, Eagle Eye, and Elephant Hide.
  5. Name your character.
  6. You can assign yourself up to two traits (this is an optional step). You could be a Studious Tinkerer or even decide to possess the Heavy Handed trait (which gives you a damage bonus but reduces your chance for a critical hit).
  7. Select an elemental spirit that will follow you throughout the adventure. Each comes with a different speaking voice during game play.
  8. Select for yourself three tag skills. Tag skills are derived from the skill tree which shall be explained further below.
Having a fruitful conversation with my spirit

As you can see, it should take you at least 10 minutes to seriously decide what type of character you wish to play. Luckily, the character creation process provides you helpful tool tips at the bottom of the screen. This reduces the need to flip through the manual. Do put some effort in this stage for there is no way for you to change your character once you start your adventure.

You start your game as a captive, but very shortly your elemental spirit will reveal itself and teach you some basics to the game. You are eventually whisked to freedom and will only truly begin your game once you are in the city of Barcelona proper.

Time to level up my tag skills

Conversing with any non-player character (NPC) in the game is very simple. An icon appears once you move your mouse cursor over an NPC and clicking on him/her will initiate the conversation. If the NPC is a major character, you will hear a voice speaking the part.

At the end of the NPC’s reply, you are given an array of possible responses to choose from. The result of your choice can range from an unpleasant outcome to a character joining you in your quest or another thread in the conversation or some other interesting situation.

As you move around in the world of L:LotC conversing with NPCs, there will come a point where you will be given a quest by them. All quests are captured neatly in your Quest Log. They can be sorted from those that are still active, those you have completed, and those that you have failed to complete.

Yes, it is possible to fail missions in this game, this is due to the many choices available to you while in Barcelona. Take for example, your quest to join one of the factions in the city. Let’s say you decided to join the Knights Templar faction. This action would cause a quest from another faction to fail.

This kind of flexibility opens up the possibility of you replaying the game from the start to try out the other options open to you.

Checking the Quest Log to see if I am still on track

As you walk around Barcelona, you will start to note that the city is huge and sprawling with lots of interesting sights to see. The buildings are all intricately detailed and beautifully drawn. Some of the NPCs move around by themselves, making you feel like you are really in sixteenth century Spain. Of course, you don’t only get to see Barcelona, you will also get to explore dungeons, caverns, crypts, forested areas, and much more.

Fortunately, you can rely on the auto-map feature which does a great job of showing you a zoomed out view of the area. The likelihood of you getting lost is slim if you continuously rely on the auto-map feature. You are also able to access the overland map later in the game to access areas that are further away from Barcelona.

Uncovering the map

The quests in L:LotC are rather interesting and don’t always involve a “gopher” type mission. When you complete quests, you may be awarded experience points or gold and treasure.

Accumulating enough experience points will result in your character moving on up to the next level. When you level up, you will be able to improve your tag skills using a handful of points awarded to you. Depending on how you distribute these points, the skills will either allow you to cast more powerful spells, possess greater fighting prowess, or improve your thieving abilities.

The overland map that brings you all over Spain

Encountering enemies is inevitable in L:LotC. Fighting is a matter of clicking on an enemy until it is dead, or running away to live to fight another day. After an enemy dies, it may leave behind coins. You can pick these up and use them whenever you meet merchants in the game or when a quest requires them. Coins aren’t the only treasure you can pick up, enemies may also drop armor, weapons, potions, and other magical trinkets.

Other than coins and treasure, you may also see a red or blue orb left behind. Clicking on these glowing balls of light helps to heal your character or give you more mana to cast spells. There appear to be a lot of blue orbs in the game, while the red orbs are uncommon. Here’s a tip – I rely on the blue orbs to heal my character using my spell casting ability. Suffice to say, use these orbs wisely.

While dungeon delving, you will also have to rely on two important skills accessible from the menu at the bottom right of your screen. The first would be the pick lock icon and the second allows you to detect secret doors. Activate them as needed, but keep an eye on the latter as it will become disabled after a battle.

Time to buy myself some health potions

Let’s talk about some of the bad points of this game. Here are a few things I disliked about L:LotC:

  • The screen resolution cuffs you at a paltry size of 800 x 600; you could try to modify the configuration file, but the graphics goes awry if you do so. Basically, you’re stuck at that resolution.
  • The game had an impressive start as role playing game, but it later becomes more Diablo-esque. The further away you move from the city of Barcelona, the more frantic you get as you try to complete “hack and slay” style quests. This may be good for some, but I still prefer my role playing fix.
  • Game balance is horrendous; there are moments when the game is ridiculously simple, while there are a few dungeons where the enemies would just make mince meat out of you.
  • And when you get hurt later in the game, you better have potions at hand to heal yourself, because all the red and blue orbs in the world aren’t going to be enough to help you out. Otherwise, you could opt to just wait it out for your health to return to its normal level, which is a couple of minutes doing nothing.
  • The palette for some of the areas tend to be drab and dark and could have benefited from more lighting.
That pesky Vodyanoi packs a huge bite

The music score by Inon Zur sounds impressive, but there just isn’t enough of it in the game. In addition, I found the voice acting to be rather well done. Well, most of the time.

Lionheart: Legacy of the Crusader is a very good role playing game that should not be overlooked just because of some of the negative points I highlighted earlier. Its creative take on an alternative history is a great effort on the developer’s part. It is precisely because of this rich role playing background that makes it a worthy game to play through.

What’s that glowing crystal doing here?

The Verdict

7Good

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