Lords of Everquest

Lords of Everquest

Your wanton path of destruction ends here!
Developer / Distributor: Rapid Eye Ent. / Sony Online Ent.
Release Date: 1 Dec 2003

RecordNow 10 Music Lab Premier

Rating: ESRB – Teen

GamersGate - Buy and download games for PC andIntroduction
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?

Patching
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

What’s offered
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).

Anybody home?

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

Game Play
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

Graphics
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.

Busy producing Gaz Warriors

Audio

The audio is a mixed bag.

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).

I thought the sound effects are pretty functional and clear. As for the music, I am glad to know that it has been provided by Paul Romero and Rob King. For those of you who don’t know, this duo actually provided the music for the Heroes of Might and Magic series (from HoMM1 to HoMM5) – a veritable powerhouse team in composing epic music.
Hey, come back! The fight’s over here

Analysis

I thought the game play was rather weak thanks to the effort by the developers to simplify the game and make it more attractive to a wider range of players (that is to say, people who play a certain MMOG called Everquest). The in-game cutscenes made the experience worse as it cheapened the overall feel. No amount of good voice acting is going to rescue this part of the game – it makes the entire experience very boring. *Yawn*
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.

Troops transfer time

Conclusion

If you don’t mind expanding your Everquest collection, or if you have not set your expectations too high, or if you love to play a run of the mill real time strategy game, then Lords of Everquest will have you hooked for awhile.
Ultimately, this is really your call.
Don’t forget the editor

The Verdict

5.5Mediocre

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