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Lords of Magic
Rating: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 best

CNET Gamecenter Review
By Hugh Falk
(2/17/1998)

Game at a Glance
Recap: Real-time combat is successful
Ups: Good real-time combat and presentation
Downs: Buggy; difficult to navigate map
Multiplayer: Fair to poor
Single player: Good
Demo: NA
Patch: Available
*
Let's pretend that it's one week before Christmas, and Sierra On-Line is about to release a new fantasy/strategy game. Let's further pretend that the boxes just came back from the printer, and instead of "Lords of Magic," they read "Lord, It's Tragic." I bet Sierra would immediately cancel plans to ship the game by Christmas. It's unfortunate that Sierra feels no obligation to withhold a game if the box's contents are faulty. Lords of Magic is riddled with bugs, and the real tragedy is that my hypothetical box cover would have suited its contents more accurately.

I don't say LOM is tragic because it's inherently bad. I say it's tragic because behind all of the problems lies a good game just waiting to be played. LOM is a fantasy/strategy game most closely resembling Heroes of Might and Magic in gameplay. In graphical style, it's actually much better. Graphics and sound are LOM's strong points. Unfortunately, these are not the most important aspects of a successful strategy game. I would trade the glossy presentation for some simple troop, spell, and artifact statistics in the manual. It's hard to plan strategy when you don't know the strength of your enemy or your own army's potential.

Travel in Time
What makes LOM interesting is a combination of turn-based and real-time strategy. Up to eight players take turns moving their troops over the world map. Troops move as far as their movement points will allow, then the next player goes. When troops meet, battles take place in real time, much like a game of WarCraft II or Myth. The real-time element is fun, the interface is good, and the abilities to use invisible troops and pause combat are nice touches. Like many real-timers, however, the AI is suspect, and troops can be easily tricked into standing still or Lords of Magicgetting stuck on obstacles. Those that find combat too time-consuming or tedious can choose to auto-calculate the results, which gives LOM a Warlords III-ish feel.

Aside from my initial interest in the real-time combat and the unique bartering system, I found it hard to enjoy playing against the computer. The game map is huge, and as I explored more and more and more of the map, I found the game turning into an exercise in troop and resource management--especially since there are no automatic defend or patrol orders for troops. The large map might appeal to some, but I prefer smaller maps and more obtainable goals. For example, Heroes of Might and Magic 2 is one of my favorite games, and it has several very large maps along with smaller maps, but LOM only has one map, and it dwarfs HOMM2 in scope.

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Lords of Magic


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