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Review by: Jim Richmond
Published: December 19, 2003
The funny thing about being a gamer is that I am part of a culture that has its own language. Sure game-speak has roots in English, but most native English speakers don’t comprehend it. For instance, I can overhear a conversation about some guy fragging his buddy and know for a fact that it’s not dirty, while the lady next to me furrows her brow. Additionally, the deeper the niche, the “higher” the language and the more specialized you have to be to take it in. Role players have developed what might be the highest form of “game geek” speak with references to things that are arcane, mystical – and unless you stand inside the circle – completely incomprehensible. EverQuest was one of the first MMORPGs to successfully tap into the vein of “Dungeons and Dragons” diehards and create a niche all its own. Now publisher Sony Online Entertainment and developer Rapid Eye Entertainment are looking to broaden the number of people who know what Norrath is with Lords of EverQuest.
Before we go too much farther, let’s establish that Lords of EverQuest is not an MMORPG like its predecessor. It’s an RTS title that has its own self-contained single-player campaigns, and while you can play it online, it doesn’t carry a monthly fee to do so. Sony was so successful with EverQuest online (basically cementing a cornerstone into a formerly unproven business model) that it’s only surprising that they haven’t done anything like this before now. Lords of EverQuest takes some of the popular settings and characters from its landmark title, moves them into a format that is much more familiar and accessible to casual gamers, and maintains characters and lore to keep the EverQuest faithful happy.
There are a trio of storylines that follow the footsteps of three clans through betrayal, intrigue, and peril in the land of Norrath. The Dawn Brotherhood, the Elddar Alliance, and the Shadowrealm each have their individual burdens to bear, but they all have need of the same thing: a wise leader. Their stories are loosely intertwined and can be played from the perspective of one of five separate leaders each. Choosing a leader from a faction doesn’t change the eventual story for the selected realm, but it does adjust the difficulty setting of what you’ll encounter along with your avatar.
The obvious correlation to draw with Lords of EverQuest is to Age of Mythology. While there are undeniable similarities, Lords of EverQuest does not arrive to the Elddar council without things that set it apart from the pack. One of the most immediate differences is ripped straight from the books of the role playing establishment: your warriors can level up. Every unit from your lord to your lowliest foot soldier can advance themselves with experience in battle to add to their strength in offense and defense. Managed carefully, you can have a legion of experienced troops at your command by the time you reach the end of a mission.
When you do reach the end of a mission, all is not lost on those troops you have been cultivating. At the conclusion of each scenario you can select units to move with you into the next part of the story. You are given an allotment of points that are spent taking your most cherished warriors along for the ride. Each unit has a point cost associated with them, and so you can spend your points in whatever manner you see fit. Higher level units generally require more points to transfer them into the next stage. For the units you drag along behind you, they have the opportunity to advance beyond the chattel that you move through the meat grinder of the front lines. When your followers reach their sixth level they can be knighted. You can have a maximum of two knights in your stable and these knights can add to your military and magical prowess.
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