Lords of EverQuest

Review

posted 1/8/2004 by Randy Kalista
other articles by Randy Kalista
One Page Platforms: PC
Every criticism aimed at Lords of EverQuest pits them against Blizzard’s incomparable Warcraft 3. Everybody has said their two cents, so I’ll keep those comparisons to a minimum. Mainly because LOE can’t compare to Warcraft 3. My expectations were high despite never touching an EverQuest title (or any MMO for that matter), but I like rooting for the underdog; it’s the American Way, dammit. I hoped this title would topple all expectations and make newly-formed Rapid Eye Entertainment the “It” producers to watch for. Their core design team, after all, list Heroes of Might & Magic at the top of their resumes. To their credit, they bring some convincing innovations to the table. To their discredit, they seem to require a refresher course on a few RTS gameplay basics.

LOE travels 10,000 years into the past during the Lost Age of Norrath. The Lost Age is purportedly an era steeped in epic warfare, entrenching the land in unbounded accounts of conflict and heroism. Truth be told, ‘epic warfare’ boils down to ‘scattered skirmishes’ by day’s end. The backstory is exponentially deeper than just orcs vs. humans, but the script exploits too little of this. A shame considering there’s such a rich tapestry to draw from. Instead of allowing Norrath’s fantastic history and culture unfold onscreen, it’s reduced to a few cursory statements within the manual.

Begin by selecting which faction you wish to lead through the impending war: the Dawn Brotherhood, Elddar Alliance, or Shadowrealm. Each will grant you a unique perspective through upcoming events, although the Dawn Brotherhood grants the least satisfying campaign design of the three.

With your realm chosen you’ll then select one from amongst 15 uber-generals that will lead your armies in victory and defeat. This is also where a static level of difficulty is chosen. Each lord’s campaign is rigidly programmed to an easy, medium, or hard setting. This is based primarily upon strengths and weaknesses of individual lords and less upon outside influences (like enemy numbers and powers.) While all fighting units rise in level and ability, your lord is an immensely superior character in every facet. Your lord possesses an ever-expanding aura that will have positive affects on allied units and negative affects toward hostiles. Let’s take the Dawn Brotherhood’s Lord Palasa for example: his aura, known as Fanderkhast’s Wheel of Stars, will slow enemy movement rate while increasing nearby ally attack speeds. Another is the Elddar Alliance’s Lady Briana, whose Lifesong aura boosts the resistance of friendlies and reduces the movement rate of enemies. Only so many variations on this theme exist, so you get the picture.

The abilities each lord acquires make for some engaging strategic options. They will step onto their first battlefield with one ability already granted, while three more are obtained as your lord escalates up to level 20. Let’s stick with the Vah Shir beastlord, Lord Palasa: he begins with Summon Warder, conjuring a tiger to serve and protect him (an excellent scouting unit.) Next he gains Listless Power that will reduce an enemy’s armor class, strength and agility. His third is the Spirit of Scorpion which grants his summoned beast the chance to poison its enemies during combat. He’s then granted the Talisman of Shadoo, bestowing protection from poisons on nearby allies. Each of these factors, combined with the titan strength of their attacks, makes your lord unique and indispensable.

Each lord has a varied history and attitude, but these biographies quickly take a backseat since every faction’s lord reads from the same script. If you take up the Dawn Brotherhood’s banner, no differences exist between the 14-year-old child prodigy Lady Sakti and the orphaned and thrice-blessed paladin Lord Huigar. From scene to scene the only variations they exude are their voice fluctuations. The same goes for lords from the Elddar Alliance and the Shadowrealm. Within each realm this cuts replay value off at the knees. When you complete one realm’s storyline of events you’ll have little incentive to rehash the war with a different lord.
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