Lionheart Review

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Graphics: 6.5
Sound : 7.0
Gameplay : 8.0
Multiplayer : 7.0
Overall : 7.1
Review by Matthew Patterson

Lionheart is an RPG in a similar style to Baldur's Gate and Diablo. Those are some pretty high-ranking titles in the old 'greatest games of all time' list that resides under the tattered copy of 'journalistic clichés for dummies' that I keep next to the PC, for moments like this when I get pulled out of my bed to review for you. The important question here is - is it good? Hopefully, I will be able to answer this for you by the end of this review.

Gameplay:

The game commences with a character generation sequence, using the SPECIAL system from 'Fallout'. Lionheart allows you to choose a human or three of the human-esque hybrids on offer as your race. These three hybrid races (Demokins, Sylvants and Feralkins) all provide different statistical advantages and disadvantages for your characters abilities and skills. An example of this are the Feralkins - Strong and good at fighting, but lousy at magic. As well as the races, you can add special abilities and the like to your character. All this seems to have a very real effect on what your character (mine was bizarrely named 'kruzerio') is capable of within the world of the separate 16th century earth that Reflexive Entertainment has created for us. Apparently, our earth and the earth in LionHeart suffered a thing called the 'dysjunction' at which point the world was infused with magic and creatures you can only dream of. If you don't follow me, think of the creepy 'back to the future 2's alternate reality, only this time there are far more zombies and creatures of doom.



The game begins with you (a descendant of King Richard) being accused of heresy and escaping prison to Barcelona. After some scene setting dialogue, I chose to have a ramble about and hopefully get some weapons before attempting any quests and thus went for a wander around the local terrain. Thankfully, conversation is good to use within the game. In Lionheart, even if you skip through the text, you can use the 'Quest log'. It basically tells you what you have to do, and who you are looking for and so on. This helped me a lot at the start of the game, as there is lots to do and see. These little sub-quests are good to mould your character and get him/her some experience. The open-ended nature of this is good. I am all for having main plots and quests, but only having one goal gets tiresome very quickly - here you get to choose what you do, which I feel is very important in an RPG, especially to give you that 'feel' for the world and your character. Within the main plot proper, you only get to travel to two different cities, which disheartend me slightly. You do however get to meet famous people from our reality, within this new world - an interesting, if awkwardly executed idea.

One of the problems within the game is the combat system. To be perfectly honest, most people don't purchase RPG games to be continually assaulted from every angle non-stop. In Lionheart, it seems to have been the general idea to make some places role-playing and the other places 'click the button as quickly as you can on the fast moving thing in order to kill it' zones. This is quite a shame, and detracts from the overall score of the game. The weapons you use are also the standard affair. You get the basics to choose from, battles axes, swords and so on, although I was disappointed in the fact that you receive magical items almost from the very start of the game. I tend to see magical items as rare things, not some kind of every-day occurance.


Graphics:

As this is a 2D game , I was under the impression that the graphics would be somewhat lacking in sophistication. This however was not the case. As most new games plunge into 3D headlong, and don't even consider using 2D. I was surprised by the benefits in this case. The game's graphics serve their purpose adequately, but if its amazing visuals you are looking for, you wont find them here. There is a lot of variation in the locations and terrain that you will encounter, however none of it is astounding. The graphics score above reflects this - not too high, not to low.


Sound:

The sound in the game was well above par. There is the usual amount of hacking and slashing and the like - but that is not all. I found that within the game, the voice-overs were very well done, speaking clearly and using proper-pronunciation. This is one of my pet hates, so I was happy to see it addressed within the game. The music within the game is a 'ye olde world' style of thing. Unfortunately here there was some stuttering and horrific loop-matching - this affects the ambient side of it quite badly, ruining the background music effect.

Multiplayer:

Ahh, multiplayer, the scourge of many an early riser. I played the game cooperativly with a friend from the start and I found it very fun. Basically, you play through the game, but with up to four players. After a few buggy attempts to connect up (You can't connect to specific i.p address, instead having to use the in-game browser or Gamespy). Unfortunatly, the multiplayer save soon didn't work and we encountered a few hangs during gameplay, mostly when changing arenas. Interestingly enough, it only seemed to be when our group contained certain NPC's - when we told them to leave, the game was fine. This disheartened me slightly, but not enough to make me stop playing - after all - no pain, no gain. However I hope that a patch will be released to address this issue.



Conclusion:

Lionheart is a decent RPG, there is no getting away from it. However it does let itself down in certain respects - the multiplayer is fairly buggy, and the graphics are not particularly amazing. The plot is gripping - if you get over the problems, then this really is a worthwhile title.