Worlds of Legend: Son of the Empire logo

Can another role-playing adventure add anything new and fresh to a tired genre?

It upsets me to see how little time and effort it takes for such a large company to knock out a game like Worlds of Legend. The small amount of documentation that we got with states that it "provides new players with a completely new experience in adventure role playing".
The sad fact is that it brings nothing new to the world of Amiga games; the way the game is constructed is about as original as writing another Space Invaders.

So now I've completely destroyed it, I should explain why. Well for a start it's a totally unoriginal idea - how many games in the last year or so can you name that entail you controlling four characters with a quest to fulfill? Each of the characters having their own ratings for dexterity, skill and so on? Sound familiar yet? The first to do this properly was Dungeon Master, which was and still is a classic. Some games have followed a slightly different vein and come good Sabre Team for instance - but nothing has ever quite equalled the original.

Worlds of Legend begins when a messenger comes to tell one of the four members of the group of the death of his father. This death means that the land in which they live will be plunged into war. It is your job to investigate the fatality and stop the whole land falling into the wrong hands.

As soon as you get the message that your father has been murdered, the rest of the land goes crazy and starts fighting. This makes it very hard to travel to different towns because most people won't let you in unless you have the proper pass, so to get in you have to bribe them or beat them up which can get pretty tedious because it's the same old thing time and time again.

The fight sequences are laughable. The computer does most of the fighting for you - all you have to do is occasionally make the wizard cast a spell or turn one of the fighters into a berserker. You can even make one of the other characters sing a song!

What that is supposed to do I don't know - some prat singing "Tie me kangaroo down, sport" to several bloodthirsty, alcohol-crazed psychopaths isn't going to have much effect, I hear.

To look at, the fight sequences remind me slightly of Space Crusade only not as detailed. There are some really nice touches to the screen, for instance in the top left-hand corner there is a dumpy looking dragon with a briefcase observing and acting as a cartographer..

But as a rule the graphical representation of the people you meet is pretty bog standard and uninteresting, and the animation pretty poor as well. The character control method is pretty simple - that's the game's saving grace, really. Nowhere does the gameplay involve you clicking on arrows moving your band left, right, forward or back which is one thing I despise about the original Dungeon Master. But you do feel very limited as to what you actually have control over when playing Worlds of Legend.

I am, I'm afraid, very disappointed indeed.



Worlds of Legend: Son of the Empire logo

In years gone by, brave adventurers wandered the land saving damsels in distress from dragons. These days, game reviewers just sit in front of their Amigas playing the sequel to Mindscape's Legend.

The storyline of Worlds of Legend is the usual sort of thing, and starts with four hardened adventurers slouching around in a pub drinking beer and calling out sexist remarks at the barmaid. Suddenly, a hooded figure bursts in and passes a message to one of them announcing that his father (who is an emperor) has died under mysterious circumstance, and the forces of evil are threatening to overtake the land.

So, our happy band of wanderers decide this isn't a good end to an evening, and decide to go out and right wrongs. They visit their old aunt Sushina on the way, and she says they must find the four shards of the eternal Amulet and reform them to save the empire.

Your first task is to set up your characters. You are given four - one from each of the classes, each with their own special power. The Berserker can enter Berserker rage and become vicious and the Troubadour can sing a variety of songs which bolster the characters. The Assassin can make himself invisible and the Runemaster can cast a range of spells.

At this stage you can reclothe or rename your characters, as well as choosing their sex - you can have female warriors! You can also place the characters under the influence of one of the elements, which boosts certain characteristics but lowers others. For instance, earth boosts strength, constitution and armour, but it lowers intelligence, speed and dexterity. Once you're set up, it's off into the big wide world.

Dark depths
The gameplay is divided into two sections. The first is a relatively conventional adventure where you wander around a map and enter various cities, buying new weapons and learning new skills. The main action takes place in the dark depths of several of the buildings on the map, where you have to solve puzzles and beat up monsters. You see the room you're in from a semi-3D viewpoint, and you manipulate the various characters using the mouse only.

Clicking on a point in the playing area moves the character to that position, and clicking one of the menu options, and then on a point in the playing area, makes the character carry out the action. For instance, if there is a cask in the room, clicking on open and the cask makes the character walk over and open it. It works well, but you have to be careful where you click - it is best to click at the bottom of an object, confusing when it is a pillar with a button halfway up it.

The second part of the game has you exploring a building, solving puzzles and beating up monsters. Many of the doors are locked, and the keys are hidden in other parts of the buildings, which are defended by baddies. Also liberally spread around the place are weapons and magical items, some useful, some cursed. To progress through the maze of rooms, you need to keep a careful track on what you're carrying and where various things are.

Combat is a reasonably simple affair. If you encounter any beasties, clicking on the rally icon makes your characters regroup and enter the fray. It's possible to leave the computer to handle it all automatically, but you can step in and take over one of the characters. Or at least you can with the Runemaster: the only option you get with the other characters is to turn their special characteristics on or of. You can also determine which song the Troubadour will sing if you take control of him, but there's no way of getting involved in the nitty gritty of plunging a battle axe into a monster's head.

Magic moments
A major part of the game is dealing with magic. The Runemaster can mix his own spells from a variety of ingredients and several runes. Thus, you can create devastating damage spells, or healing spells. If you're feeling particularly awkward, you can create a spell that damages the target and then heals it, although the usefulness of this ability eludes me. Once your Runemaster gets more experienced, they can learn new runes to create new spells for such things as dispelling magic, bringing back the dead, or creating mystic weapons.

In order to create a spell, you need to combine the rune and other ingredients into a magical mixing bowl. The other ingredients are paired to the rune, so for instance you need a portion of bats wing to activate the missile rune and a portion of hedjog (sic) venom gets the healing rune going. A pinch of salt also helps. It's possible to mix together any number of runes, so a spell that dispels magic, heals, creates a mystic weapon and gives the ability to teleport is easily possible, if your Runemaster has sufficient knowledge.

Initially, most of the monsters you meet are reasonably simple to defeat, but once you get into the game, you meet monsters such as hell hounds and serpents which don't die so easily. If any of your hand of cut-throats are killed, it is possible to resurrect them, with a little help from the local temple.

Overall, Worlds of Legend is a good game, but there are no real advances from Legend, although it does have a new storyline, puzzles and a playing area that's bigger than the original. With Legend now available for £14.99, you will be better off trying that if you've not played a game of this type before. However, if you played and liked Legend, Worlds of Legend is a worthy sequel, providing a good variety of new puzzles and monsters to slaughter.


WHAT CLICKING ON THOSE ICONS DOES TO YOU AND YOUR GAME
Worlds of Legend: Son of the Empire
  1. Elliot the dragon - your trusted map maker. Click on him to get a map of the bits of the dungeon you've visited.
  2. Baggage - click on it to access the inventory screen, where you can carry out various actions with the things you've picked up along the way.
  3. Compass - constantly points north, reminding you where you are in the cosmic scheme of things.
  4. Chicken - clicking here causes your characters to run away from whatever nasties are in the area, only stopping when they get to a dead end. Beware, as the monsters usually follow you.
  5. Rally - causes your group to rally around the leader and fight the good fight.
  6. Objects - selecting one of these causes the character to use the object.
  1. Characters - clicking on one selects him/her. The skulls indicate your health and their colour shows how many luck points you have left.
  2. Menu Bar - clicking on one of the options and then clicking on an object on the playing area makes the characer walk over and carry out the operation that you ahve chosen on the object.
  3. Message area - the program prints up various messages here about how effective you have been, or which bit of you the monsters have been chopped off.
  4. Your characters - a group of heroic warriors who will inevitably triumph over evil and liberate the land from the grip of the baddies.
  5. Monsters - a group of weedy monsters who only serve to blunt your weapons.
  6. Casks - they are liberally spread around the dungeon, and usually contain either gold or some other useful object.


Worlds of Legend: Son of the Empire logo

Pete James kennt man unter dem Pseudonym "Tag" als Macher von "Bloodwych" - und als einfallsreiches Bürschchen, wenn es darum geht, eine gute Idee mehrfach auszuschlachten...

Doch während er uns beim Splitscreen-Rolli noch mit einer relativ preiswerten Datadisk davonkommen ließ, wandert dieser Aufguß seiner Iso-Dungeons zum vollen Preis über den Ladentisch.

Ja, unser erstes Testmuster enthielt sogar noch das Original-Handbuch des Vorgängers, dem einfach eine Fotokopie der neuen Hintergrundstory beigelegt war.

Auch wenn inzwischen die "richtige" Version vorliegt, ändert das nichts daran, daß wir es im Prinzip nach wie vor mit dem guten alten Legend in anderer Verpackung zu tun haben. Einerseits ist das schon irgendwie Preistreiberei, andererseits sollte man es nicht unbedingt "Worlds of Legend" anlasten, das trotzdem (immer noch) ein gutes Spiel ist.

Wer den alten Testbericht verschlampt hat, sei hier also kurz über das Wesentliche informiert: Nach der relativ simplen Charaktergenerierung steuert man die vierköpfige Heldencrew (Barde, Zauberer, Ninja, Berserker) als bunte Fähnchen über eine Fraktal-Landkarte.

In den Kerkern und bei den häufigen Kämpfen wird auf eine isometrische 3D-Ansicht umgeschaltet, bei der die Steuerungsicons um das Geschehen in der Screenmitte herum plaziert sind.

Die Handhabung klappt auch ganz wunderbar, obwohl man im Konfliktfall seine Jungs bzw. Mädels einzeln und in Echtzeit rumkommandieren muß. Dazu gibt es ein ausgefeiltes Zaubersystem mit nahezu beliebig kombinierbaren Runen, Automapping, etwas einsilbige Shop-Inhaber und knackige Rätsel mit vielen Schaltern.

Neu ist hingegen... so gut wie nix, lediglich Grafik und Sound wurde ein leicht asiatischer Touch verpaßt. Im großen und ganzen also ein ziemlich klarer Fall von Software-Recycling - fehlt eigentlich nur noch der grüne Punkt auf der Packung! (mm)



Worlds of Legend: Son of the Empire logo

First there was Legend. And now there is Worlds of it.

I am getting a bit worried about review policy here at AMIGA POWER. It doesn't take long for one of us to get sort of typecast - Jonathan does the flight sims and strategy war games, Mark gets anything violent, Stuart gets anything he wants, and now it looks like I'm the RPG/Adventure man. No! Please, guys - I'll do the platform games you all hate, I'll do puzzle games and horizontally scrolling shoot-'em-ups, sports sims and god games, but please don't condemn me to a life of working out spell systems and trying to pronounce my main character's surname.

Don't get me wrong - I've got nothing against adventure games. In fact, I really like them. But just flick through this magazine and you'll see that this month I've reviewed Knightmare and Legend, tipped Legends of Valour and KGB, reviewed Nippon Safes Inc, and now I'm on Worlds Of Legend.

Apart from the fact that I don't know what particular 'legend' I'm involved in any more, I'm also not sure whether I'm in Mitteledorf, Trazere or Moscow, whether I'm called Zothen Runecaster, Mantric Shafthassen the Elder or Dino Fafioli, or what the hell's going on. I yearn for a name like Scooter or Biff, one that's easy to say and doesn't suggest that I had an abnormal birth and that I'm incapable o getting on with people my own age. (Look, stop whinging and get on with the review or I'll kill you. - Ed)

There's a happy coincidence in this issue, as already mentioned - on page 71 you'll find a review of the newly-released-on-a-budget Legend. which this game just happens to be the sequel to. So, if you're unfamiliar with the original, I suggest you turn there now and have a good read. I'll just go and make a cup of tea...


The main action takes place in the dungeons

Finished? Good, wasn't it? I wrote that. Anyway, Worlds Of Legend is the sequel, and I have to say that on first look you could be mistaken for thinking you'd got the original by mistake - the game engine is identical. I didn't have a lot of room for background details in the budget review, but I've got two pages here, so perhaps a little elaboration is in order.

First - the plot. One of the adventurers in your party receives a message telling him that his father, the Emperor, has been assassinated. The culprit seems to be one Ti-Mann MoChun, and you have to return to Imperia in the Empire of the Moon to sort things out. This involves a sub-quest in which you have to return the four shards of the Eternal Amulet to Aunt Sushiana so that she can reform it and the Empire may be saved.

The team consists of four characters: a Barbarian, a Wizard, a Bard and an Assassin. You can alter some of their characteristics before you start and even change their sex and clothing, which is very politically correct I think. Each character has his or her own special power - the Barbarian goes into a Berserker rage, the Assassin can hide in the shadows, the Bard can sing enchanting songs and the Wizard of course is pretty nifty at magic.

Apart from the plot, the other major difference between this and its prequel is that Worlds Of Legend has a mystical Eastern background, rather than a straight Dungeons and Dragons style. It's a good idea, but it's the only things that separates the two games in feel. Everything else is exactly the same, from the character selection to the control system.

Perhaps this is no bad thing - after all, you would expect certain similarities between a game and its follow-up. And Legend was a great and immensely popular game, so why change it? True, but at the same time it wasn't without its faults, and I can't help thinking that this would have been a great place to put them right. Also, is it worth the money when what it amounts to is a data disk? We shall see.

There's a land map to travel around and you use this to enter various different towns. In the towns you can pick up clues, buy runes for spells, get equipment, pray at temples, and so on. However, the main action takes place in the dungeons. These are (naturally) full of peril, but they also contain gold, spells, weapons, scrolls and inevitably the shards of the Eternal Amulet. There's also a number of puzzles to solve, and keys to find which enable you to get on and move further through the dungeon, so your mind is kept busy too.

If you're not familiar with the control system, this is how it works. The view is isometric 3D, and the play area is like a board made up of small squares. You control the four characters by clicking on where you want them to go with the mouse. There are plinths around the play area which you use to make your character fight and cast spells (in the case of the Wizard). There's also Elliot the Dragon (don't ask me), who sits at the side and does the handy task of drawing out a map for you as you progress.

You'd think in these days of amazing graphical advances and incredible game designs like Legends of Valour that this sort of game would go out of date. The truth is, Worlds Of Legend is so much fun that it doesn't matter how far up the RPG evolutionary ladder it is - it works and it works well. If you've played Legend, you'll know what I mean.

But the criticism still stands that nothing's moved on since Legend - all you're getting is a different plot. It seems a shame when perhaps something more could have been done with it, and there must be a cheaper way of presenting a game with exactly the same game engine. I'm going to recommend it, because it is so good, and you can never get enough of Legend, but I'm tinged with disappointment that some new ideas weren't incorporated.


THE SHADOWY FIGURE IS TRYING TO ATTRACT YOUR ATTENTION
Worlds of Legend: Son of the Empire
  1. Elliot the Dragon very kindly maps out the dungeons for you. Click on him to see it.
  2. This icon brings up the inventory screen, where you can swap items between characters.
  3. If you're getting severely slaughtered in a fight, click on the chicken icon and your gang, er, runs away.
  4. The mixing bowl is used to mix spells together. Only Runemasters have access to spells.
  5. The rally icon. This causes the whole team to start fighting, or to group together.
  6. The right and left hand icons. Weapons go in the right, and keys and scrolls in the left.
  7. These are used to choose which character to perform an action, and show the health of each.


Worlds of Legend: Son of the Empire logo CU Amiga Screen Star

In the pursuit of truth, justice and baked beans Jon Sloan's travelled to some funny places, but none stranger than the Empire of the Moon. Here's his guided tour to a land overrun by chaos and plagued by monsters with an attitude.

It's funny sometimes how really good games can appear without all the attendant showboating that comes with major releases. That's exactly what happened when the original Legend first appeared. It was released to lukewarm reviews but soon became a cult classic. As one of the many fans of Legend it was with some pleasure that I greeted the arrival of its semi-sequel, Son of the Empire.

Empire has been released as a stand-alone expansion for the original but it is, in effect, a brand new game.

It puts you once more in control of the Berserker, the Assassin, the Troubadour and the Runemaster in their quest to bring order from chaos. These characters each have unique abilities, like the Assassin who can turn invisible and the Troubadour whose songs boost the party's stats. It's the Runemaster and his spells, though, that make Empire really special (see the Spells R Us panel below).

THE PLOT THICKENS
The game carries on where Legend left off with your band of four adventurers celebrating after defeating the minions of chaos in Trazere. That celebration is cut short by the arrival of a messenger with news that the Assassin's father, the Emperor, has been murdered by an aide and the throne is being sought by four feuding warlords.

Wasting no time you ride east to the Imperial castle to be greeted by Aunt Sushiana. She informs you that the murderer is hiding in the vaults beneath the palace and you have to roof him out.

This tale sets the scene for the first 'trainer' dungeon which, despite the fact it's supposed to be basic, soon gets pretty hairy.

The magician at the end of it is particularly tough and requires umpteen hacks and magical blasts before he gives up the ghost. Once he's been sorted you soon realise how massive the game is, as Sushiana informs you that in order to reunite the realm you'll have to travel to 115 four corners to collect four shards of an amulet. Apparently it's needed to awaken the eternal champion who's the only force strong enough to defeat the warlords.

WHAT DO YOU SEE?
The main action takes place in one of the seven isometric dungeons/vaults that are hidden beneath various towns and shrines. You travel to them across a fractal map, whilst desperately trying to avoid the roving warlord's armies as an encounter with one can result in a quick death for the unprepared.
Once a vault is reached it's straight into it for some exploration and dungeon bashing.

The screen is dominated by an isometric display of the dungeon environment whilst surrounding it are various icons showing your characters, a map-making dragon, a satchel for the inventory and various plinths on which stand any magical items that you're wearing. This system is very easy to learn as it only needs one click to access the inventory, change leaders or use a magic item.

It's fortunate that the control system is so easy as, once battle ensues, the action is extremely fast monsters attack from all directions and destructive spells whiz around and explode in graphic detail. Even with all this going on there's no apparent loss of speed, which is quite an achievement. Perhaps this is due to the simplicity of the graphics which, though workman-like, fail to alter much from dungeon to dungeon.

With the oriental selling it's a shame that the designers didn't take the opportunity to really revamp the backgrounds. Apart from the odd item here and there the graphics are very similar to the original. Also, the sound effects and tunes soon become irritating in their repetition.

That said, even the sound and graphic simplicity cannot detract from the addictive gameplay. I even had to be forcibly dragged away from my monitor to write this review! Once you start Empire you'll soon be dragged in so far that it's hard to stop. The scenario is realistic, the action thick and fast and the magic system without equal. This game is one of the most believable and playable RPGs to date.


GET TOOLED UP
Son of the Empire becomes progressively more difficult the deeper you get into the game. Initially the monsters you meet are pretty easy to trash and the puzzles can be readily solved. But, after trawling through these earlier dungeons and vaults under the Imperial Palace, you'll find that the later locations are pretty tough. Fortunately help is at hand in the term of magical items. They come in many forms from simple damage inflicting helmets that strike the file in front of you to handy magically protective rings. They can be obtained by careful searching, by purchase from an Artificer or simply by picking them up once you've defeated their current owners. The problem is that they're often one shot only and you can't tell what they do tilt you try them. Well fear no more for here's a definitive list of the most common magic items and their uses.
Worlds of Legend: Son of the Empire: cloud Helm CLOUD HELM -
This item teleports its wearer onto whatever square you stick on.
Worlds of Legend: Son of the Empire: Holy Helm HOLY HELM -
This causes all enemies in the surrounding eight so see the light and covert to good for the duration of the battle.
Worlds of Legend: Son of the Empire: Gold Helm GOLD HELM -
Another useful hat as it regenerates its wearer's hit.
  CHAOS HELM -
Perhaps the most useful helm of all, it allows the wearer to re-vivify his companions.
  BATTLE HORN -
The Troubadour will go mad for this musical instrument, it allows him to berserk like the Barbarian.
Worlds of Legend: Son of the Empire: Angel Helm ANGEL HELM -
An Assassin's dream this. Pop it on and he'll speed into battle and teleport wherever he wants to go.
  SERPENT SHIELD -
The most special magic item of all heats all your hit points to full capacity no matter how high their maximum is.
Worlds of Legend: Son of the Empire: Gold Potion GOLD POTION -
Like the effects of the Gold Helm, if you drink this you'll feel a lot better.
Worlds of Legend: Son of the Empire: Bronze Potion BRONZE POTION -
Give this drink to any warrior and he'll seen be steaming into battle like the legends of old.
Worlds of Legend: Son of the Empire: Amber Potion AMBER POTION -
If you're likely to face a powerful runemaster take a swig of this to nullify his worst effects.
Worlds of Legend: Son of the Empire: Dragon Potion DRAGON POTION -
Like the fabled beast, anyone drinking this potion will heal at great speed, become stronger than steel and suffer no ill effects from a magician's wand.
Worlds of Legend: Son of the Empire: Sun Ring SUN RING -
It's said that a good dose of sunshine soon heals your wounds and with this ring it's true.
SPELLS R US
Worlds of Legend: Son of the Empire: Sun Ring

The spell system is the one thing that lifts Legend/Empire above its competitors. It's the very complexity of it that makes it special. To get a spell to work you need to know and then combine various runes and ingredients then link them chain-like into one bigger spell. This makes it possible for you to invent any kind of spell you want, so long as it comes within certain guidelines.
The manual is deliberately vague when it comes to spellcasting. Apart from the fact that you don't get all the runes you need immediately you aren't even told how to combine them. Fortunately CU Amiga is here to help with some useful spell combinations.

  • Missile rune + wing of bat missile spell
  • Damage rune + brimstone damage spell
  • Healing rune + hedjog venom = healing spell
  • Surround rune + nightshade = surround spell
  • Dispel rune + dragon's tooth = dispel magic
  • Antimage rune + nightshade + dragon's tooth = antimage spell.
  • Thrall rune + nightshade + mandrake = thrall spell

For a spell combination direct from the programmers try this - mix surround and missile and damage and surround and damage and missile and finally, damage. This is the magical equivalent of an all out nuclear attack. It can be made more powerful by adding extra damage components. Don't forget to antimage the party first or you'll be sorry.