Written by  :  weregamer (169)
Written on  :  Oct 23, 2003
Rating  :  3.43 Stars3.43 Stars3.43 Stars3.43 Stars3.43 Stars

2 out of 2 people found this review helpful

write a review of this game
read more reviews by weregamer
read more reviews for this game


Nice magic system and backstory, but they botched the conversion to realtime and they botched game balance overall

The Good

The interesting alternate history and the rendering of the culture and characters were very well done. The interesting magic system, firmly rooted in the gameworld, was a welcome change from the two extremes one usually sees in CRPGs: cookie-cutter mix-and-match magic and idiosyncratic and interesting but unbalanced thematic magic. Many of the characters and quests in the first part of the game are interesting and at least a little original, taking advantage of the unique parts of the gameworld.

The Bad

Although a good conversion of the SPECIAL system for real-time combat could undoubtedly be done, this isn't it. Replacing sequence and action points with a small modifier to attack frequency seriously unbalances the basic stats (which were carefully balanced in the Fallouts). Making room for three magic colleges by sweeping all charisma-based skills into one makes it worse. All in all, SPECIAL was carefully crafted by designers who understood rule systems, and Lionheart's modifications don't work.

Worse, they upped the pace of combat to something frenetic enough that I find Diablo II easier to play. And despite the apparent understanding of how SPECIAL and Fallout allowed for diplomatic and sneaky characters as well as charging warriors, they made all of the NPC companions near-useless in combat and made the entire second half of the game require combat as the only solution.

They are very heavy-handed about borrowing historical characters, to the extent of moving famous characters through space and even time: The reason why Shakespeare is in Barcelona is extremely flimsy, and his conversation consists almost entirely of quotes from his plays. Cortez is given a flimsily-excused magical longevity reason to be in the game at all. Machiavelli, who could be a very interesting character and drive a great plot, is severely underused - I can't be more specific without including a spoiler. It's all pretty graceless.

The Bottom Line

If it weren't real-time, or if it weren't claiming a relationship to Fallout, this would be a decent game but not a great one. Certainly, the alternate history idea is so cool and - for such things, at least - believable that I plan to steal it for my high-weirdness FtF roleplaying campaign. But compared to the classics in whose shadow it stands, I'm very disappointed in this game.