June 23, 2001
Heroes of Might & Magic - Review
The biggest question with Heroes of Might & Magic is not how good is it, but what is it? This game combines elements from strategy games, adventure games, and Role Playing Games, but isn't really easily slotted into any of these categories. But that doesn't make the game less interesting, if anything it helps boost its appeal, especially on a console starved of all three genres. If I was to pick a game similar to this one it would have to be the classic PC game Defender of the Crown. Obviously this game is a lot better then the 15 year old PC game but the concept is the same. You earn gold, buy armies are conquer the lands and enemies castles. It's a simple concept that works remarkably well.
|The battlefield is quite detailed.|
The storyline of Heroes of Might & Magic is as follows; Darkness reigns and sinister creatures stalk the innocent. King Argus III lies helpless and unconscious, dying from the assassination attempt that has left him poisoned and weak. Malazak, the revenge-driven son of the Wyrm-Father, awaits King Argus's death so he can divide the kingdom between himself, a demon, and a dark Minotaur. Only one possesses the power to set things right. You must find the DragonBone Staff. The fate of the kingdom rests in your hands.
Heroes of Might & Magic begins with you selecting one of four characters to lead an army into battle. You begin the game with only a handful of soldiers but are given money to purchase a range of monsters for your armies. The bulk of the game will see you travelling the land from a top-down perspective collecting treasure chests full of money, spells or pieces of the DragonBone Staff map, which will lead you to the item. While wondering through the countryside your army is represented by your character only. This is also true of the enemies who also appear as only one warrior or monster. One really neat feature of the game is how the soldier morale varies depending on the soldiers in your army. Mixing vampires, knights and trolls results in your entire armies moral dropping to almost nothing. This drop in morale results in lower performances while in battle but in reality the difference it makes is minimal.
|Buying an army is vital to success.|
Occasionally you will come across enemies who are almost always willing to attack your party, or enemy occupied castles which you can lay siege upon if you have purchased siege weapons. When you enter a battle the game transports you to the battlefield where you can issue commands yo each of your soldiers. The battles are a simple, but very effective system, which also allow you to chance the camera angle while in battle. The two armies are placed on each side of a grid. The combat is turn based with players able to move several spaces, cast magic, perform attacks or pass on the turn. It is possible to turn the combat to an "auto" mode but you lose all control of who you are attacking and the result usually isn't favourable to you. Winning the battle results in you earning experience points as well as plenty of gold to buy more powerful armies.
The Playstation 2 version of Heroes of Might & Magic has had many of the PC versions details such as the resource management and town management removed entirely from the game. This gives the game a more "pick up and play feel" and to speed things up the developers have implemented a time completion limit for success or failure. There are 4 different time limits to complete the game which you can choose depending on your skills.
|The standard in-game viewpoint.|
Graphically 3DO have opted for functionality rather then flare and it works well. The game runs in high resolution and looks quite sharp. The characters have all been upgraded from 2D sprites on the PC version to 3D polygon models and are animated very well. The actual game world lacks the details of the creatures but adequately conveys what is required. As for the opening and ending CGI, it's among the best yet seen from 3DO.
The sound effects in the game are adequate and convincingly convey what is happening on screen. Grunts and moans when a character is attacked is exactly as you would expect. The music is the typical medievil style and while you'll like forget it as soon as you turn off the console it's not likely to evoke any painful memories.
|The magic lighting is quite good.|
Logic tells me that Heroes of Might & Magic shouldn't be a good game. There is nothing overly complicated, it's repetitive, the graphics are average and, well, it's a 3DO title. But there is something very, very addictive about this game. Be it the exploration, the quest, the need to conquer one more castle, or just the similarities to old school gaming. Heroes of Might & Magic is a strategy game that can engross you for hours before you know it, but also has that quick pick up and play feeling which is so important to a titles replayablilty. This is a surprisingly addictive title.
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