Conspiracy Entertainment's dedication to localizing top-notch Japanese console games can't be questioned. On the top of the company's list is Record of Lodoss War - the fast-paced action-RPG based on the anime series of the same name. Released earlier this year to Japanese audiences, Lodoss War is a game that Western audiences will take to easily. Though playing the import version was a bit difficult without a basic grasp of the Japanese language, players thus inclined were able to trudge through the narrative sequences and relish in the game's primary focus - the vanquishing of foes and the gathering of treasure. Now that Conspiracy has done an admirable job of translating the game's heavy text, though, eager gamers don't have to settle for such a single-minded experience.
Lodoss War's narrative revolves around a newly resurrected hero, whose role you'll play. Brought back from the dead by a powerful wizard named Wart, your character eventually comes to play a crucial role in the saving of Marmo, the region in which the game is set. Your quest will take you through the farthest reaches of Marmo and beyond. The game's world is relatively large, and every corner of it is populated by respawning enemies, keeping the game's action elements relevant throughout.
Action is easily Lodoss War's focus, and with its isometic perspective, the game bears a marked resemblance to Blizzard's Diablo games. Every element in Lodoss War, though, is rendered in full 3D, from the main character to the world's many edifices and monsters. Doing battle - an activity you'll find yourself involved in quite often when playing Lodoss War - is a very simple undertaking; simply approach an enemy and press the B button repeatedly. As enemies will usually attack back, though, it's wise to employ a variety of tactics. Fans of action-RPGs, in any case, will find the drill most familiar, while those new to the play style will find it rather simple to grasp.
Aiding you in combat is a host of weapons and armor. Though you'll find a great many scattered throughout the game's world and lying amongst the remains of your enemies, most of the combat gear you'll acquire will be of your own design. Early in the game, your character is granted access to a smithy and an eager dwarf to work it. At any point in the game, you're able to return to the workshop, where the dwarf awaits your requests. You can have him perform a multitude of tasks, from magically enhancing your weapons to creating new arms and armor for you. All of this is achieved by gathering mithrill - Lodoss War's unit of currency, of sorts. Mithrill serves as a raw material, which your faithful smith converts into basic weapons. Once you have a weapon (or a piece of armor), you're able to etch magical inscriptions onto it, imbuing it with all sorts of powers - anything from attack bonuses to elemental properties. The item-creation system is one of the game's deepest and most interesting aspects; borrowing elements from games like Vagrant Story and Diablo II, Lodoss War's system allows for a rich variety among your creations and encourages you to search for more components.
In the end, many of the game's systems are worthy of note. The game's magic system is interesting, as is its inventory interface, and the AI companions whose service you'll eventually earn are decently keen and varied. RPG fans sick of the standard console formula would do well to check this game out, as it really has more in common with fast-paced PC RPGs than anything else. Record of Lodoss War is set for release in January of 2001.