Times Of Lore (MicroProse) Review | Zzap - Everygamegoing

Zzap


Times Of Lore
By Origin Systems
Commodore 64/128

 
Published in Zzap #46

Times Of Lore

Things aren't looking too good in Albareth. For a start, nobody's seen hide nor hair of the High King or his son for 20 years. A regent has taken their place but he's losing his hold over the kingdom - it's not even safe for him to set his little tootsies out of the palace.

Being the sort to take advantage of any form of national upheaval, rogues, orcs, slimes (slimes?) and skeletons are getting their act together and turning the countryside into one big seething mass of danger. Aargh! Can it get worse? It certainly can - the three artifacts which have ensured the kingdom's peace in the past are lost. (Shock, horror, oh no, etc.) Unless some fool adventurer tries to restore order, Albareth is lost.

Well, it's obvious who this fool adventurer is going to be. isn't it? Yup, you. Erm... well, you in the guise of one of three characters, anyway. Before you start, you pick an identity: Knight, Barbarian or Valkyrie. Each has their own abilities - the Valkyrie, for example, is weaker, but her exceptional agility makes up for it.

Starting out in the inn at Eralan, the capital, you move through the 13,000 (cor!) different screen locations (a top-quality, poster-sized map is included in the packaging) fighting monsters and performing tasks for the people that you meet.

A joystick-operated icon system allows you to pick up, drop, examine and use objects, talk to other characters or give them one of your possessions. In conversation mode, the screen flashes up a further menu of possible alternatives which vary according to the character. You can make chitchat or ask specific questions. Each time a new key word is mentioned, a gong sounds to let you know that there's something new to ask about.

Killing enemies occasionally reveals money, extra weapons or magical objects. Transportation scrolls, weapon scrolls and healing potions come in pretty useful when your life-force is being drastically reduced by a bunch of smelly orcs.

Energy is replenished every time you spend the night at an inn. On the disc version, your position is automatically saved so that next time you play, you can start at the inn at which you last slept. Good, eh?

ME

Well, if this was intended as a sort of halfway house between arcade action and RPG, it must have got lost somewhere in between. The arcade action is incredibly repetitive and involves very little skill; not only that, it takes so long to get to any of the role-playing parts that there just isn't enough happening at first to drive you wild with animal enthusiasm for any later aspect of the game.

Shame really, because the icon-system works smoothly, the conversation mode is excellently presented and all the different magic objects could have made for lots of variety. If only there wasn't so much aimless wandering around...

KH

I love adventures and all that stuff, so I was really pleased to see an arcade adventure designed to get more people interested in RPGs. Well, Times Of Lore is definitely user-friendly - you hardly have to read the instructions if you don't want to and the icon-system means you need never let that hot little joystick out of your hand! There's an incredibly large environment to explore and, once you get into it, plenty to occupy your mind.

However, it does take just slightly too long to get anywhere. At least half of the game involves travelling around a pretty samey environment killing orcs and collecting money - big deal! If you're a real joystick junky, you might find this a tad-ette too slow and boring. If you're the slightly more ponderous and thoughtful type, on the other hand, rush down to your nearest software stockist and give this top-quality package an energetic whirl.

GH

Hmmm, well, here we have one of those games that's great if you like this sort of thing but probably very boring if you don't. With its bold and colourful graphics (the scrolling's a bit jerky though) and its extensive and complex play environment there's plenty to keep any fat and enthusiastic RPG novice occupied.

If, on the other hand, you're one of those bleary-eyed people who hasn't got time to spare for anything other than a hard action, bash 'em into the ground sort of shoot-'em, beat-'em, smash everything you see 'em up, this just isn't for you.

As for everyone else, £9.95 isn't much to pay for the sort of boxed package, gorgeous map and thick manual (which normally comes a whole lot more expensive), is it?

Verdict

Presentation 95%
Really user-friendly menu system, top-quality packaging - including colourful poster-sized map - one load, and it's dead cheap.

Graphics 75%
Colourful indoor and outdoor scenes plus a wide variety of ghoulish monsters - but the scrolling is quite jerky.

Sound 60%
Atmospheric medieval title tune but in-game sound is limited to sparse spot effects.

Hookability 85%
The controls are so user-friendly and the packaging's so inviting that you just can't wait to have a go.

Lastability 90%
Estimated playing time is 200-300 hours - that should keep you busy, Norman!

Overall 80%
An original and very professionally executed RPG-style arcade adventure.