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Heroes of Might and Magic V Review
developer: Nival Interactive
PIV 1500, 512MB RAM, 2GB HDD, 128MB video card
|ESRB rating: E
release date: May 23, 06 (released)
|» All About Heroes of Might and Magic V on ActionTrip|
Rarely has there been a game series with such a loyal following as Heroes of Might & Magic. I remember my first contact with the now classic third game in the series. A buddy of mine could not peel his eyes off the screen for two seconds to talk to me. Being an eye-candy whore myself, I sort of wondered what all the fuss was about with a few pixilated 2D griffins on the screen.
You'd think that an Arch Devil would do more damage.
Ah, a tranquil Elven city.
Oh how wrong I was.
Anyway, years have passed since; Heroes of Might & Magic IV came and went, largely regarded as a step back for the series. HOMM exchanged many hands before finally landing into Nival's lap. The Russian development team is well known for their work on the Etherlords series and many others. Ubisoft picked up the Heroes license and after years of development, we have before us Heroes of Might & Magic V, a game that some think will make or break the series.
HOMM fanatics are so vocal and opinionated that Ubi actually postponed the release of the fifth game after a community smack down of the beta build. I've talked to my more fanatical HOMM-addicted friends, and naturally, they've started bitching about the fifth game as soon as they opened the game box. It's the nature of the beast so to speak. To avoid such traps, however, I have decided to simply review the game on its own merit.
With Nival in charge, the series gets a new look and feel. The fantasy world of HOMM remains mostly the same in terms of the lore, but Nival clearly took some pointers from Blizzard when designing HOMM 5. Simply put, the game reminds me of Blizzard's work both artistically and in the way the story is presented. Alas, I should rather say that Nival has *attempted* to emulate Blizzard but in this case, with hardly the same degree of success. The voice-overs are at times very unconvincing, not allowing the player to fully immerse himself in the story. On the other hand, the way that the campaigns are connected and the relative moral ambiguity of all the sides in the conflict, just screams Warcraft III. I could live with that though. However, I can't live with the fact that the most dramatic moments in the game (at the end of each campaign) simply lack convincing drama to be moving or inspiring enough. Don't get me wrong, the story is passable and the art is good, but the bar has been raised higher than that.
While that segment of the game may be somewhat lacking, it is my belief that the actual gameplay as well as the design of the missions is simply brilliant. The single-player game offers six different campaigns: The Queen, The Cultist, The Necromancer, and so on, each of them allowing you to lead different types of units, heroes, and armies altogether. I should warn you that the entire first campaign is really slow and uneventful, at least until you get to the final mission. But really, for the most part, The Queen campaign serves as an elaborate tutorial, as the amount of special features, spells, creature attributes, as well as NPC and structure details you'll have to learn in this game is quite overwhelming. Once you've gotten to the second campaign and beyond, things really start to heat up. The new way in which you move your heroes across the map may be less dynamic and efficient than what you had in HOMM3, but it does bring with it certain advantages. Positioning of the troops as well as proper calculation of how many move points each of your heroes has left will be paramount in certain missions.
On top of that, each of the armies in the game is so vastly different in terms of the strategies it utilizes in combat, you'll simply love playing HOMM 5 against your buddies, I'm sure of it. The game is highly, *highly* tactical; it requires knowledge of the features as well as the ability to plan ahead, and the incredible variety that is offered shows that Nival really poured their heart and soul into this project. I can truly appreciate that, and I think the fans will too.
As far as the single-player missions are concerned, they are dynamically designed and challenging (I played on 'Hard' and had my work truly cut out for me; so much so that I had to replay almost every move I made near the end of each mission in the later stages of the game).
8.5 Very Good
Very challenging, deep, and addictive gameplay, mission design, unit animation, multiplayer potential, easy on your hardware;
Voice acting, story lacks the needed drama, music gets repetitive, some minor camera issues in movement mode (can't scroll the map while my hero is moving - didn't find a fix for it).