Rating: ESRB – Teen
For those who recognize it, the quote for today’s blog is taken from the venerable Massive Multiplayer Online Game (MMOG) called Everquest. I had spent a great number of hours on Everquest a few years back and was addicted to it for awhile. The game world was richly detailed with many fantasy races and cultures to explore.
As an offshoot from Everquest, Sony Online Entertainment engaged Rapid Eye Entertainment to develop Lords of Everquest – a real time strategy game based on the Everquest world. It seems that most of the favorite parts of Everquest was wrenched out from the MMOG and placed into the game that I really wasn’t sure whether the developers met the design objectives they ultimately wanted to achieve.
It’s true that the graphics and sound all look pretty serviceable and are reminiscent of Everquest, but Lords of Everquest is however not as polished as I would have come to expect, especially for a game coming from Sony Computer Entertainment. In addition, the game play for Lords of Everquest will garner at best tepid applause – there’s nothing that great to shout about for fans of real time strategy games.
If you are a die-hard Everquest fan however, then shame on you for not adding this game to your collection of Everquest and expansions.
|Rather inviting, isn’t it?|
Sony Online Entertainment has this policy of ensuring their games are patched to the latest version via their patch server. So don’t be surprised when the first thing the game does is to start patching Lords of Everquest to the latest version.
I was having problems patching the game at first until I realized that Lords of Everquest needed to be run in Administrator mode under Windows 7. After that, with the game fully patched to version 1.44, everything ran very smoothly for me.
|Select your campaign|
From the main menu, you have the choice of single player and multiplayer.
Single player embraces you with the choice of a Tutorial, three campaigns for each of the factions – Shadowrealm, Dawn Brotherhood, and Elddar Alliance, and a Battle map mode (essentially a skirmish game).
Multiplayer on the other hand logs you into SOEGames.net which requires you to have an Everquest or Sony Station Account. There are a handful of chat rooms available but absolutely no players. It is kind of a waste as there are a number of cool maps available (41 to be exact), as well as 5 multiplayer game modes, and 2 game play types (Free For All and Team play) to choose from. Multiplayer can accommodate 2 to 12 players depending on the map you choose.
|Funny captions during loading|
I have provided an explanation of the 5 multiplayer game modes in more detail:
- Last Man Standing – the last player who survives wins.
- Body Harvest – most number of enemies in a pre-determined time wins.
- Platinum Rush – most number of coins in a pre-determined time wins.
- Grim Reaper – the last hero / units surviving wins.
- Lord of Levels – the hero who attains the most number of levels in a pre-determined time wins.
Tutorial and Campaigns
The tutorial mission, in my opinion, does a pretty good job. You get introduced to Lord Skass, an Iksar Necromancer – a Lord of Everquest. After watching a cutscene, you assume control of Lord Skass and his small squad of Hammerskull Grunts (or Ogre Warriors).
You get to attack enemies, learn about your Lord’s special abilities (such as Lord Skass’ Aura and Summon Dead power), as well as mine for platinum (the game’s only resource), construct buildings, and take down the enemy’s HQ. The only gripe I have with the tutorial is that you cannot skip the cutscenes.
The three campaigns can be played in any order. You have 12 sequential missions in each campaign to complete which gives you a whopping 36 missions to conquer.
Before you begin each campaign, you must pick from one of the five lords (for a grand total of 15) that are made available to you from each faction. Each of the lords are tagged as easy, medium, or hard difficulty, and this is due to the power of the abilities assigned to them. Because of this, you might want to consider playing a campaign all over again with a different lord.
|Body harvest sounds interesting|
As you start a mission, a cutscene will begin. Every cutscene is provided by the in-game engine so you will see zoom-in shots of your heroes and units either shrugging, nodding, or moving their limbs. Don’t expect any lip syncing as the models are not equipped with that capability. I found this to be mildly irritating throughout the entire game.
The story was incoherent in some parts and sometimes I just couldn’t make sense why some things were happening in the storyline. I guess you have to be an avid fan of Everquest to appreciate the story.
|Love them clockwork spiders|
Mining is very simple… too simple in fact. You have only one type of resource to mine – platinum. You will either enploy clockwork spiders (ShadowRealm), dwarven strip miners (Dawn Brotherhood), or bixie harvesters (Elddar Alliance) to do the job of mining. As you can see, the units may differ among factions but they essentially do the exact same thing. Talk about originality.
Construction of buildings is very straightforward. There isn’t even any need to select a builder unit. You only need to click on the build icon and the building is gradually erected through a cool building animation sequence. There are build tree hierarchies that you must follow, so for example don’t expect to build a Bone Pile without first building a Sparring Ground.
Units and their upgrades are also easily produced, just click on a building and select the icon that builds the troop (or special upgrade) that you need.
|I’d love to play a Kerran Beastlord|
I found the movement AI to be an issue when controlling huge groups. My troops were either colliding into each other and then stopping for awhile… before you know it, I get a pretty long and dispersed line of troops marching towards my destination.
In addition, another problem crops up when a unit is blocked from reaching his target. That said unit will walk one big round (even walking through enemy lands) just to reach the target. Finally, when my troops encounter the enemies, they will just continue running to their target destination and simply ignore the enemies attacking them from behind.
|This mission is booby-trapped|
I thought graphics was one of the strong point in Lords of Everquest.
First the negative, as you can see from the screenshots, the units are not so detailed (low polygon count) but the lords and buildings are reasonably done. The texture graphics are a bit blurry especially when you zoom your camera to ground level to say “hi” to your troops. Incidentally, the zoom in function is a good-to-have feature in any RTS type of game.
When building construction is taking place, you can see nice animation sequences as well as silhouettes of the building. During magical fights, you will also get to see special lighting or explosion effects that are great for drawing your attention.
First the voice acting, big star names have lent their voices to some of the characters. Listed in the credits are John Rhys-Davies, Kate Mulgrew, Dwight Schultz, Ron Perlman, and more. I thought the voice acting was ok, but some of the lines they say ranges from irritating (“I’m simply irresistable”) to downright corny (“Go to impulse… I said Impulse!” – no points for guessing who says this).
|Check out the graphics|
The poor movement and unit awareness AI is however the clincher that hammers the nail into the coffin for Lords of Everquest. It’s no excuse for a game to have such a poor implementation of pathing and movement.
Finally, a positive point – you have a mission editor if you wish to create your own skirmish map to try out in Battle Map mode.
|Don’t forget the editor|