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SummaryIt is a great shame too see this potential crumble to dust...
The GoodThe main idea behind Lionheart is quite good and original. In one of the holy crusades the history of the world changed forever. Magic entered the world and it transformed the world we know today in to something very different.
As you can imagine the game world has a very original and a strong background. The designers used many famous renaissance characters as NPCs. Including Leonardo Da Vinci, Shakespeare and many many others. With the addition of magic you feel yourself at someplace you already know but still interesting and very different. The starting atmosphere is really good indeed.
The graphics are in 2d and out-dated in technology-wise, but they are still good and they add a lot to the atmosphere of the game. However you are stuck at 800*600 resolution for no reason at all.
The musics and environmental sounds in the game are also good. Nothing that could be create a renascence in gaming industry but still they fit the game quite well.
The game uses S.P.E.C.I.A.L. system which is the best cRPG system that has ever been developed.(It was developed for Fallout Series) However the developer is anew company, the publisher Black Isle is the strongest RPG producer around.
To sum up a sound company, a good looking game, very interesting ideas, a superb character system, good graphics,music and atmosphere. Sounds good does it not?
The BadThe main idea is good but it was not developed enough. You are stuck with the city of Barcelona, the only noticeable town in the game. There are references to some Islamic cities to the south but not to any other European Cities. Well actually there is a few more "cities" you visit which had European names, but there were nearly nothing to do on those so I am not counting them.
All in all you have a big city which is not as big as the city of Baldur's Gate or Amn (BG and BG2 in that order) and about 20 wilderness areas. Don't get me wrong these "Wilderness Areas" are just dungeons with no ceilings, nothing else.
The background of the world is good but it also not worked on. Any DM with some imagination and a few weeks time could have created a much deeper history and background from the magnificent idea. The famous characters are at best underused and at worst they are in the game for no reason at all. The addition of magic could have created many interesting conflicts but it is only used in a church based theme, and even in that it is quite underused. When playing the game I wanted to cry because of those perfect ideas, each one of them turned into total crap.
Well the graphics and sounds are not the most important part of a cRPG but however they fit the game, they could have been much much MUCH better with only a little work.
Well... I really don't want to mention the S.P.E.C.I.A.L. system. It is enough to say that without using any character system at all, the game could be much better. For once SPECIAL, which is originally designed for Turn-Based games, needs a lot of work to be transfered to a Real-Time game. Second SPECIAL system lets a player build his character the way he wants it.
The point here is actually you can build 2 different characters in the game. A mage or a fighter. You don't have the chance to build a spokesman/trader simply because for the second part of the game you will only fight and do nothing else. Oh! Even with these to basic "classes" ready to fail soon enough. A mage is quite impossible to play. Because in the second part of the game where there is nearly no way to regain your mana, you spend hours simply waiting in front of your screen for your mana points to refill. It is REALLY boring. And the Fighter is simply unbalanced. There is no creature/encounter in the game that can kill a pure fighter character.
You think these are bad? No we just started yet! The NPCs that join your party are completely and utterly meaningless. They die after the second encounter. They don't have their own personalities, they don't level up, they don't fight good. I really don't know why they are even there...
At last we come to the combat system. This is the worst combat system I have ever seen in my life. It is unbalanced, boring, needless, sometimes too easy and sometimes without any reason it is too hard. There is no enemy AI to speak of they just attack you. There is no action to keep you going, there is no strategy for you to think about. Worse still in the second part of the game you only fight. Fight hundreds of battles. And there is no way around it.
And if you overcome to those endless combats and somehow finish the game don't expect an ending. There is only an in-game gathering of people and a speech. No movies, nothing!