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Lords of Everquest PC CD-ROM

Published by Ubi Soft Entertainment/Sony Online Entertainment
Developed by Rapid Eye Entertainment
Released - Out Now
Price : £29.99

Having been one of the most popular online games for the last few years, has seen the Everquest title become a household name to gamers everywhere. A couple of weeks ago we reviewed the PlayStation 2 version of the MMORPG that's taken the online gaming community by storm. Lords of Everquest isn't a MMORPG though, it's a RTS based on the successful world of Everquest. So what do we have here a RPG strategy hybrid? Well not exactly, it's a straight RTS with a sprinkling of RPG elements.

As you would expect with an Everquest title there is support for online play but it's the single player game where you're going to want to begin. The single player game features three campaigns, one for each faction in the game. The three factions are Dawn Brotherhood, Elddar Alliance and Shadowrealm. Aside from the campaigns there is also a skirmish mode. You are supposed to be able (according to the manual) to choose this skirmish mode by clicking on the single player button and then choosing the Battlemap option. When I tried to do this though there were no maps to choose from and I couldn't begin a game. In the end I had to create a LAN game and select the computer (there are three levels of difficulty) as an opponent. The campaigns are OK but they don't offer anything that you haven't seen before and are not of the same quality of many of the RTS games released in the last few years. What you will find though is that certain RPG elements exist in the game such as treasure chests and scrolls, that will enable your Lords to cast new spells. It's these kind of features that might tempt Everquest players to the game.

It's certainly evident that Warcraft III was an inspiration for the style of Lords of Everquest. Three factions, similar style graphics and simple resource management (platinum is the only resource in Lords of Everquest), are all to be found in Blizzard's title and Lords of Everquest. Instead of heroes we have Lords but they are basically the same thing as they have the ability to gain experience, level up and gain extra abilities. In the campaigns it's good to see that you carry not only your levelled up Lord with you to your next mission but you'll also be able to carry some of your levelled up military units too. You are given a certain amount of transfer points to spend and you can use these to buy some of your levelled up units. The more experienced the units you choose, the more they cost. Having improved units by your side increases their worth and the importance of protecting them, which adds an extra challenge to the game.

Lords of Everquest can either be played over a LAN or the Internet. As a multiplayer game Lords of Everquest is quite good and human opponents certainly are more enjoyable than a simplistic AI that is rather uninspiring. Internet games require you to set up an account and patch your game to the latest build, which is pretty standard practice. You can create your own games or join any games that are free to join. There always seems to be at least 3 or 4 games available to join, which isn't bad for a new title. There are quite a few maps already included, some of which are for team only games. There are five types of game on offer at the moment including Last Man Standing, Body Harvest (most kills wins), Platinum Rush (player with the most platinum mined wins), and Lord of Levels (the winner whose Lord has gained the most levels wins). Most of these games are time limited and therefore they are quite good when you haven't got all night to play.

The graphics is Lords of Everquest aren't too bad but they could have better. The maps themselves look OK but the unit and building graphics could have had much more detail. Despite this though the game can be fairly sluggish even on a decent PC. I played the game at a screen resolution of 1024x768 with a XP2800+, 1GB RAM and a GeForce 4 Ti4200 and it was a bit sluggish. The camera can be rotated and zoomed in quite close although zooming in close can be a bit of a hindrance most of the time. The interface is simple and straightforward and you can shut off as much as you want to, which is always a welcome addition.

There are no real problems for deaf gamers with Lords of Everquest. The introduction to the game isn't subtitled but the manual gives you an introduction to the game on page 3, which sets the tone rather better than the games introduction. The comments from your units when you give them orders are not subtitled but this isn't important. Occasionally you'll receive verbal warnings letting you know that your Lord is under attack or that you are low on platinum. If you open the chat window these messages will be shown in text but if you don't have the chat window open you won't see them. Pressing space will take you instantly to the location of the last warning. You can also chat via text in multiplayer games which is good to see in these days of voice communication.

It's rather fitting that an Everquest inspired title is a better online experience than a single player one (although the skirmish games against the AI are quite good). Against human opposition the game is quite enjoyable. The basic mechanics of the game means that it takes no time at all to get to grips with it and as a result you don't have to spend hours mastering the game to be good online. Those seasoned RTS players might be put off with the games simplicity though and the single player campaigns certainly don't offer anything different from what has gone before. If you're looking for a quick to learn RTS to play online though this could be the game you've been looking for.

Overall Game Rating: 7.0/10
As a multiplayer game it's easy to learn and quick to get into. The single player campaigns are a little flat though and if you don't play online you may not get the full enjoyment out of the game. It might also appeal if you're a fan of the Everquest games.

Deaf Gamers comment:
The introduction isn't subtitled but otherwise it's OK.