Amstrad Action


Lords Of Chaos

Author: Adam Waring
Publisher: Blade
Machine: Amstrad CPC464

 
Published in Amstrad Action #59

Lords Of Chaos

Long, long ago. when there was no war, the Arch Mages lived in peace together. They ruled in harmony, in a World without Flood or Famine. Then a catastrophe occurred. The World split, and the new Worlds were born. The mages had to use all the magic they could muster, just to survive.

Now things are different. The new mini Worlds are dangerous chaotic places, but the Wizards need to come out of Limbo to visit them for they are the source of their power. The Wizards no longer live in peace. They fight amongst each other. They can no longer share the World. There can only be one supreme ruler over the madness - the Lord Of Chaos.

Lords Of Chaos is the long-awaited follow-up to Laser Squad. It is similar in many aspects. The graphic display is of the same type, and the arcade style strategy element is apparent too. There have been improvements, though. For example, the statistical information display has been uprated. Bar graphs replace all those daunting numbers, and the side panel is looking far more graphical.

But the main difference is that Lords Of Chaos is a role-playing game. Assuming you win, the central character can be used again and again in successive games. Every adventure played increases the character's experience, enabling him to learn better spells, and generally be beefed up. As your character develops you'll be able to take on more and more difficult scenarios.

Laser Squad was at its best when played by two people. The designers haven't ignored this, and up to four people can compete in Chaos. Unlike Laser squad. where one player took control of the baddies, here everyone has the same objective: To kill anything that isn't on their side! It's possible to design your own wizards. However, on the first few plays, it's better to jump straight in to the action, while you work out exactly what's going on. The computer will quickly knock-up a wizard for you, with the standard attributes and a random selection of spells.

There are three scenarios to chose from. In each you have to amass as many victory points as you can. These are attained by collecting treasure and killing! After a certain period, a portal back to limbo appears. It's for a limited time only, so your priority changes from wanton death and destruction, to running like a cat with a banger up its... [Yes, well, never mind - Ed]. You have to reach that portal whatever the cost - if you don't, it will disappear and you'll be stuck for eternity (or at least until you restart the game).

The manual is big. Luckily, it has a tutorial section on learning how to play the game. Adventure number one is advised as the ideal training ground. It's called The Many Coloured Land - an odd title for a scenario made up of four colours, all of them green! Each Wizard starts off in a separate walled enclosure. The first thing to do is conjure up a few friends. While your Wiz is the one able to cast magic, he's not so hot in one-to-one combat.

There are plenty of creatures to chose from. They all have different combinations of abilities and it's important to get a good selection. If you have an entire army of elephants then they'll be fine for trampling the enemy to death. Find a crossbow, though, and you'll find they just don't quite have the dexterity needed to use one.

You can't actually move on your first go. so that's the time to make friends. After that you're free to move around, open doors, explore - and fight! It won't be long before you have your first encounter. As well as the enemy Wizards and their cronies, giant spiders inhabit the forest that covers much of this World.

The Worlds are pretty small. The map wraps round, so if you move continuously in one direction, you'll eventually end up where you started from. It's made up from a variety of types of terrain, magic forests, bubbling swamps and fire-filled pits. No Wub-Wub trees, though. The map is shown a psuedo-3D style - a sort of overhead view with perspective. A line-of-sight system works out what you can see apart from the basic features. Creatures that aren't on your side, and objects that you can pick up cannot be seen - unless you can see them (what?).

The game is taken as a series of turns. Thus, you have a number of action points for each character where they can move around, pick things up, attack, etc. The characters are controlled via a menu system. An on-map cursor can be moved around, the map scrolling with it when you reach the edge. Pressing Fire brings up the menu. The options you're presented with depend on exactly what the cursor is over at the time. If it's one of your creatures you can select it, and then move it, or do some other task.

Once you've been humiliated by the computer a few times, and have got to grips with the way the system works, then it's time to generate a wizard of your very own, for which you'll need to go into the wizard designer section. And once you have made your idea of Merlin, you'll grow to love your little alter ego.

Your character is initially allotted 600 experience points. These can be spent on a variety of attributes and spells. Attributes cover such things as strength, movement, magical power and constitution. There are plenty of spells to chose from too. The figures need to be juggled around to pick a well-balanced wizard. It's no good spending all your points uprating the attributes if you don't have any left over for the spells. This system allows you to custom-design your wizard to be best for any of the particular scenarios.

The graphics aren't awesome, they're functional instead. All the creatures have a simple two-frame animation, as do some of the background features. This adds life to the game. The four colour mode is used throughout, giving the graphics plenty of resolution. On the whole, they work extremely well within the context of the game.

Soundwise, there ain't an awful lot to say. There's no tune, and the fx are used sparingly, accompanying some actions, like spell casting and battle fighting. They're not really missed in this type of game though.

Lords Of Chaos has one hell of a reputation to live up to after Laser Squad. It's a complicated beast, and a lot of manual reading and getting killed is called for before you start to achieve anything. It lacks the instant appeal of Laser Squad - in that game, you may not win the first few times you play, but you cause plenty of damage trying. Get over the initial frustration though, and Lords Of Chaos has plenty of scope. There's just so much to do, so much to learn, and so much game to play!

Second Opinion

Lords Of Chaos is Laser Squad with twiddly bits. Unfortunately, all the authors have managed to do is complicate the system with no real benefit for the player. Whatever Laser Squad might have been short on, it certainly wasn't gameplay!

Green Screen View

Magic!

First Day Target Score

Escape through the port

Verdict

Graphics 78%
P. Simple, but functional.
P. Work well with the style of the game.

Sonics 23%
N. Very little in the way of sound.

Grab Factor 62%
P. Daunting manual you need to read.
P. Over-complicated?

Staying Power 91%
P. An incredibly deep game.
P. Only three scenarios.

Overall 84%
P. Perseverance is necessary, but it's worth it.

Adam Waring

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