Geryk Pre-Analysis: Land of Legends
Brooski - Columns - Comments - 07/22/05

Despite my on-and-off involvement with the Fantasy HapMap Project working on the genomic basis for the tradeoff between increased Constitution and decreased Wisdom, I canít really say Iíve ever been a big fan of the elf. Or the dwarf. You can probably throw the gnome in there, too, along with whatever other things might be in the Dungeonmasterís Manual or whatever that thing is that makes Planetscape Torment be so boring. I just threw that last part in there to make you mad, and when I say you I mean you personally.

Thatís all a pointlessly inflammatory way of saying I donít get all crazy about fantasy games just because theyíre fantasy games. An unproven corollary to that theorem is that I especially donít like games where the fantasy characters are all from cute little kiddie land. I wasnít a big fan of eight-year-olds driving panzers and running detention camps in Advance Wars, and Iím not a big fan of elves of a similar age group impaling each other with polearms. Thatís just not my thing Ė donít get all crazy if you like that stuff because Iím sure itís fine. For you.

This all just makes it more odd that at last count, I have played through eight missions of the Land of Legends beta campaign, and that doesnít include the three tutorial missions. Thatís all the elf and human missions. Sorry, nine Ė I skipped to a dwarf mission. There are something like eight races and over twenty total missions. In each one, you get a console-like wrapping text window at the bottom where cute little characters pop out and tell you something interesting about their world, and why you have to capture all the cities in the next perfectly symmetrical area that just happens to have six elf cities and six gnome cities arranged just so. Thereís an explanation for this that you get to read about.

Look Ė everyone knows what Advance Wars is, so going through some long Avault-format screed about how long it took to install the game is just going to waste your time. And mine, which is all that matters. Itís just easier to say Land of Legends is like Advance Wars only with standard fantasy races from the fantasy encyclopedia. The thing I like about these types of games is that even though they have the absolutely fruitiest presentation possible, theyíre all about a limited number of meaningful decisions. Land of Legends has just the right number of such decisions per unit time Ė otherwise known as pacing Ė which was one of the flaws of Shadow Watch even if Kevin Perry will never admit it. Although I will hand it to Kevin Ė itís a lot cooler to order around a bunch of secret agents than it is an ornithopter.

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