Lands of Lore II
Lands of Lore: Guardians of Destiny is a tale of epic proportions. It combines graphic adventuring with an off-beat attitude a la Return to Zork; first-person, action/fighting a la Realms of the Haunting; and character and story-driven role-playing a la Betrayal at Krondor. Even today it remains a remarkable achievement and a game to savor for weeks and weeks.
Westwood left out nothing and thought of everything. Simply listing all its attributes, options, and characteristics would consume more than my allotted space. At best I can only whet your appetite.
The plot is complex and full of magic, demons, oracles, and bizarre characters. You play Luther: a bold, brash, wisecracking young man with a curse. He involuntarily and at random moments shape-shifts into a tiny dinosaur or a large ogre. Your initial quest is to find a cure. That will take you on a fantastical journey to jungles, caves, ancient ruins, snowy mountains, and magical cities. In a first-person, Doom-like, faux-3D environment you'll do a lot of roaming and plenty of standard adventuring by picking up anything not tied down, combining items to form healing potions, and meeting, greeting, or fighting a multiplicity of beings. Your weapons include standard medieval fare plus many magic spells and powers.
You can adjust Luther's abilities by choosing how you deal with the beings you meet. Defeat weaklings with your brute force and you gain nothing. Take on more powerful beasts using cunning and clever weapon combinations (rub a poison sack on your sword for extra killing strength) and you become more powerful. But hard-core RPG gamers looking for customized protagonist creation or a carefully selected band of trusted compadres will be disappointed. Luther acts alone. What gives LOL II its RPG label is its fanciful back story and plethora of colorful characters who prefer chatting to fighting.
Player options are more numerous than any game I recall from the late 90s. You can customize all your movement, inventory, and fighting controls (more than 50 keyboard commands), adjust graphic and audio levels and styles, set an auto-save timer, leave messages on an auto-mapper, skip conversations, and change difficulty levels.
As an adventure LOL II breaks new ground. There are innumerable optional paths, passageways, and character interactions that can move your quest forward. Many gamers may finish the game without visiting the Draracle's (the Dragon Oracle's) secret museum, the tree dwellings of the wild ones, or the Dark Army's sealed and long forgotten hallways. You can choose to befriend those you meet, slash and thrash your way through the minions, or some iteration between the two. Your actions will affect future encounters.
What you get with LOL II is an ambitious and immersive action-adventure loaded with challenging puzzles, cool secrets, and multiple means to arrive at its conclusion. Looking back on the game it should be remembered as still a commendable piece of work with a great deal of longevity.