They Made Three of Them?
Mediocre. That is going to be the key word for this review. In the wonderful world of PC gaming, we have seen leaps and bounds in graphics, sound, and gameplay quality. Lands of Lore 3, unfortunately, doesn't exhibit any of the aforementioned advancements. And that just doesn't cut it.
What is surprising is that this is the third installment in the Lands of Lore series (see Lands of Lore 2). With sequels, you expect a certain gimmick (like better graphics, or more impressive gameplay), but LOL3 has nothing particularly new or exciting. Well, it has something, but it just isn't very much.
Here's the story: You are Copper LeGre. The game starts you off right after crazy doggies from some rift kill your half-brothers and the king (your father). Not only are you are blamed for your father's death, but also your soul is stolen and you need to find broken mirror pieces to live. Needless to say, you haven't had a very good day. The plot is fairly basic, with nothing really to write home about.
Fortunately, LOL3 has an easy-to-learn interface and intuitive controls. When I first started to play, I found I knew most of the movements and I learned the interface in a snap. Actual battles are a bit frustrating because they require more complex movements, but most gamers will quickly learn to swing their sword pretty accurately.
I only wish I could see the sword. Unless you are looking at the weapon in the inventory box, it's a bit unclear what weapon you're killing enemies with. I thought that I didn't know how to equip weapons properly; every time I used a weapon, all that I would see were comic book "swoosh" lines. While I suppose that saves the graphical engine, it makes the game less realistic.
Unsurprisingly, the graphics are just average. They aren't bad, just your everyday, run-of-the-mill, plain 'ole graphics. There is no special attention to characters or building detail. I never really stared at a landscape and said, "Magnificent." Although boring graphics can work if the plot is amazing or complex (see Daggerfall), it just doesn't cut it in this case.
Sound quality is nothing to brag about either. Ho-hum music plays while you explore the kingdom of Gladstone. And when an enemy appears, the music turns quick and spooky. Oh well, nothing new here.
However, gameplay has its moments. I truly enjoyed deciding on what Guild to join. Each Guild has their own Familiar that runs around with you acting like your sidekick. As most superheroes quickly discovered, sidekicks are cool. I chose to join the Thief Guild. Not too many other games encourage theft and back-stabbing, two things which should be a part of any good RPG.
There are also a ton of puzzles that you have to solve. While none of them present much of a challenge, some are amusing at times. Also, since the interface is easy to use, players should have no problem progressing through the game at a good speed.
Unfortunately, the good gameplay is balanced by the "evil" gameplay. I encountered evil gameplay every time I was fighting or had to make an exact movement. Movements in battle are tricky because you are required to push almost four buttons at once. While not an impossible feat, it's definitely an annoying one. And those bastards really move sometimes.
All in all, Lands of Lore III is pretty darn average . . . and not really worth your forty dollars. With so many other quality role-playing games on the market (Baldur's Gate, Fallout 2) and other, more promising games coming down the pipe in the next year (Might and Magic VII), most gamers will want to pass this one by. There is nothing terribly wrong with this game, but you can do better.