Lands of Lore: Guardians of the Pixel
Before I begin this review, I have a little story for you. Two years ago I was at a conference in San Francisco - the Autodesk Art Teco 2. It was basically a computer art and art tools conference. They showed a reel of Lands of Lore 2, and talked about how banks of SGI's were pumping out renderings 24 hours a day for this game. The renderings looked gorgeous - and they still do. Unfortunately, all the money for this game was apparently spent on these cutscenes as opposed to actual gameplay. In contrast, the in-game graphics are absolutely terrible! They look worse than Doom! Which, if you remember, came out in 1993. In case you hadn't noticed, this is 1997, and graphics like this are no longer acceptable.
Granted, this is an RPG (well... sort-of, read on), and it does have a good story. You are Luther, and you have a curse. The curse morphs you into a rat-like creature or a huge beast at intervals you can't control. You've become an outcast in your community and have got to find away to cure your affliction. You don't get much more story than that at first, but what divulges is an extremely intriguing and interesting plot. Depending on what you do in the game, different paths of the story are taken - giving Lands of Lore 2 what most games lack, replayability. The actors are decent, nothing special, but nowhere near as bad as Resident Evil or SkyNET. On the other hand, the dialogue Luther spews out is hilarious. Maybe it's funny because we never see Luther, maybe his sarcastic voice is pure entertainment - either way you'll still laugh. Hardcore RPG buffs are out of luck with this game though, as there aren't massive amounts of player statistics to experiment with or even character classes for that matter. Realistically, this game should be classified as an Adventure game, not an RPG or a 1st person shooter.
The controls in Lands of Lore 2 are utterly awful. There are so many different keys and the default layout of them is so bad you are basically forced to change it. It took a large block of time to figure out how to conduct combat efficiently as well as move around the world and interact with items simultaneously. If your going to play this game and you don't have three hands, you'll really need to change your control setup(or grow a new arm. I did and it works great!).
The sound is remarkable. Ambient sound makes up most of the game; it's truly immersive (sorry for pulling out one of the reviewers' favorite catchwords, but I just couldn't help myself). From the rushing rivers, to the chirping birds, to the dripping water in caves and the drunken bellowing in pubs, no matter what environment your in, there'll be something for you to hear.
One great feature is that this game is extremely difficult and will keep even proficient puzzle solvers stumped for a while. Longevity and replayability? Yep, this game has both those two important commodities going for it. What's so surprising is that Lands of Lore 2 is extremely unlike its predecessor. Let me make sure everyone heard that: Lands of Lore 2 is nothing like Lands of Lore 1! Some people will be baffled about the nature of the game, considering it was a sequel, so make sure you know what your getting into.
Lands of Lore 2 is a difficult to control game packed in a disgusting graphic engine. Its story and puzzles are its selling point, and if you aren't nauseated by the other parts of the game you'd be well off staying around to watch them unfold.