Lionheart: Legacy of the Crusader
Lionheart: Legacy of the Crusader is an action role-playing game, developed for Microsoft Windows by Reflexive Entertainment, published by Black Isle Studios, distributed in Europe by Avalon Interactive and released in August 2003. The game is viewed from a 3/4 isometric camera angle. It focuses on a protagonist, controlled by the player, as he travels on a quest that constitutes the central focus of the game. The plot stipulates a rift in reality that drastically altered medieval history by allowing demons and other similar beings to enter the mortal realm. During the game, the protagonist encounters and interacts with numerous historical figures such as Joan of Arc, Leonardo da Vinci and Galileo Galilei who are represented as non-player characters.
|Lionheart: Legacy of the Crusader|
|Publisher(s)||Black Isle Studios|
|Programmer(s)||James C. Smith|
Lionheart utilizes the SPECIAL role-playing system, which was first used in the Fallout series, and in this game functions primarily in adding points to specific skills in separate trees to strengthen a character's "Spiritkind", which has a personality and nature chosen by the player at the start of the game.
As Lionheart implements the SPECIAL system, the character creation is inherently similar to the Fallout series. A player begins by setting the values of his or her character's strength, perception, endurance, charisma, intelligence, agility and luck, and selecting "traits," which alter a character's inherent abilities for either better or worse, for the duration of the game. In addition, the player must distribute points to "skills" – abilities which a character uses to achieve various effects. One skill, "diplomacy," allows the player to talk their way out of situations gone awry, while another, "sneak," allows the player to move undetected by enemies. Unlike the Fallout series, Lionheart also allows the player to select magical skills – an example being "discord," which turns hostile enemies against one another.
A player also selects "perks" during the course of the game – abilities similar to traits, which affect a character's abilities in some form; for example, the ability "Superior Senses" grants the player character a +1 bonus to his or her perception and +15 skill points in the "find traps/secret doors" skill.
Another element newly introduced by Lionheart is the player's selection of a "Spiritkind" for their character, which is done during the "character generation" at the game's start. A "Spiritkind" is a spirit, which is either demonic, elemental or bestial, that resides in the player character and occasionally rouses to explain happenings or gameplay mechanics, or advance the plot.
Notably, the character generated by the player is the only character a player has direct control over, and though characters will occasionally join a player's adventuring party, they are AI-controlled without exception.
Lionheart's historical chronology puts forth that Richard the Lionheart's massacre of 3000 prisoners at the Siege of Acre, during the Third Crusade, was used by a villainous character as fuel for a ritual which tore the fabric of reality. This resulted in magic invading the game's world from other dimensions. The game itself takes place during the 16th century, which, due to the alternate reality setting, has been ravaged by uncontrolled magic and demonic creatures.
During the course of the game, a villain seeks to fully and permanently open the dimensional rift which was only temporarily cracked during the Third Crusade, while the player character, who is a descendant of Richard the Lionheart, attempts to stop it.
Several famous historical personas appear during the course of the game, most of them residing or imprisoned in Barcelona: Miguel de Cervantes, William Shakespeare, Galileo Galilei, Niccolò Machiavelli, and Leonardo da Vinci. This is impossible in the real-world history, but it is implied that they are being kept alive by the spirits inhabiting their bodies or other magical means.
Lionheart received "mixed" reviews according to the review aggregation website Metacritic. GameSpot's Greg Kasavin noted that although Lionheart seems to promote diverse character creation, the significant focus on monster-infested areas "all but forces you to play as some sort of combat-oriented character." The game was also criticised for its attempts at promoting "Diablo-style," hack-and-slash gameplay after a more dialogue-driven approach in the earlier stages of the game. IGN's Barry Brenesal wrote, "the problem of deciding what kind of game it really wants to be, RPG or Diablo clone, is probably the most serious problem it's got." He continued that Lionheart "feels like a good game got lost somewhere en route, and ended up being pushed out the door with some basic features missing." RPGamer's Steven Bellotti assessed that the game "starts out so promising," but "once you get out of Barcelona and into the wider world, [it] falls flat on its face."
Conversely the game was praised for both its musical score, which was described as "excellent," and voice-acting, which was exclaimed to be "top-notch." The SPECIAL system-fueled character creation was called "great."
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