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Might and Magic 9 Review

publisher: Ubisoft
developer: 3DO
genre: Adventure

PII-400, 64MB RAM, 16MB 3D accelerator
ESRB rating: T

release date: Mar 29, 02
» All About Might and Magic 9 on ActionTrip

April 04, 2002
Ranko "Arjuna" Trifkovic

Friends, Romans, countrymen! Pay heed to the wise words of an experienced Game Master who has been playing C and P&P RPGs for ten years now: Avoid Might & Magic IX at all costs, unless you are completely bored with your life, in which case better kill yourself than play this so-called adventure! I lack words to properly describe my disgust with this game. This game looks like somebody made the developers design it at gunpoint. AND they are not ashamed to claim that the game has been designed according to players' requests. No, I don't think so; if you gathered all morons in the world not even they would sign a petition to make a game this feeble. You should see their pretentious site; even on it, you can see all the sense fading away as you start off from the first sequel and proceed towards the ninth.

Once upon a time, in the good-old days of EGA graphics, games were developed the way they should have been. Somehow proportionally to the growth of CPU speed, grew the human greed to make a lot of money by manufacturing video games. This is how the once glorious Might & Magic serial, whose fourth incarnation served as basis for the legendary Heroes of Might & Magic turned into this thing named M&M IX. The CEO of the company decided to personally write the story for this abominable piece of trash.

One jolly day, the brilliant minds from New World Computing, or in other words, 3DO programmers, wrapped the good-old Heroes of Might & Magic 2 idea into some new details and contemporary graphics and thereby made a game revitalizing the entire serial and bringing loads of joy to old and new fans alike. That very same day, some producer decided to creep out of its hole and watching the sales figures of the Might & Magic serial, realizes that it could make a lot of money if it joined efforts of the teams building sequels to both serials and simply make fans of each serial believe they got whole two sequels for their favorite game. The producer then made the CEO (I still cannot believe that someone willingly wrote this dribble) write the script, buy the rights for using the LithTech engine, make some incompetent kids apply the textures to the whole thing by whipping them, and hire a psychedelic, ex-junkie designer to use his demented brain for creating the game world with all the cities, dungeons and monsters. The programmers just did their job, and yes, some of the skills and spells are nifty, but to no avail.

First thing you notice are the graphics...and the loudly advertised LithTech engine which makes the entire game look like a bunch on psychotically painted square pieces of cardboard. It takes me back to the days when I played Arena... with one exception, Arena was a good game, and used to look quite revolutionary in its days, back in the nineties. The entire world seems desolate, and the pathetic attempts to make the graphics look detailed are pitiful. For instance: you enter a room which looks extremely sterile, in spite of having all the basic furniture. The only item you can see in this room which is not obviously stuck to the walls is a bottle standing on the table. Wow! Great glass texture! What a perfectly round shape! This bottle simply has to be an important gameplay element! Then you spend a LOT of time trying to do something to it before you realize that there probably was ONE man in the designer team who did his job right and MANY who didn't.

The human models don't look that bad until you come a bit closer to them, and figure out they all have ridiculously big ears. Day and night cycle exists, but the night skies look like somebody pasted a bad scan of a photo of fireworks over it. And do not even attempt to look at the skies during day, as you would be hit by an ugly, poorly-stretched texture. Horrid! The monsters are original indeed: insane flowers, ravaging dragonflies with big bulging eyes... Skeletons? The skeletons seem very small from afar, and even smaller from up-close, but they tend to grow immensely once behind you. Cows and goats cannot be killed, but the decent-looking monsters will be very challenging so you won't have the time to admire their looks. It seems that looks somehow come with monster level here.

OK, I must agree that graphics aren't the most important element in an RPG. The story and the atmosphere are what matters, right? Now, get me the little black bag! I have been a Game Master for ten years now, and I had the chance to see all sorts of things. I wrote numerous scenarios and campaigns, and if there is something I cannot stand that is a completely illogical and incoherent plot. Well, this is what Might & Magic IX is all about. Some of you may think I am being too hard on the game, and that the plot has to develop eventually. Well, unfortunately - it does; in the most abnormal and illogical way possible. This game has quite obviously been based on three principles: kill monsters which leave a bag of gold behind (like in an arcade game from eighties) and fulfill bizarre requests you get from NPCs (pretentiously called the side-story quests) in order to be able to access the more important quests (roaming around dungeons) where you get attacked by something monstrously stupid. That's adventuring for ya.

Not to mention some obviously illogical concepts. The day-night cycle is completely pointless and has no effect on the game. The city looks equally deserted both during days and nights. The kids you can see on the streets are there all the time, for no obvious reason as you cannot interact with them. On the other hand old grannies are very useful; they can teach you how to wield axes, bows and spears. I mean, really...

The advance system is particularly interesting. Just like in Heroes, your fighter can develop into a Mercenary or Crusader, and these can further advance into Assassin/Gladiator or Ranger/Paladin. Character advance requires experience points, which are gained by killing monsters. Skill points can be spent on combat skills, but you can also give them to old grannies who would proclaim you to be an Expert, Master or Grandmaster or advance you to the next class. In the meantime, you can reach level ten, but you cannot advance without the grannies.

Spell learning functions in an even more bizarre fashion. There are six cities in the whole world where you can learn spells in one of the schools, but I guess I'll refrain myself from further explanations as I doubt you will spend too much time with this 1Gb heavy piece of trash on your hard anyway.


1.5   Don't Bother 

Well, if you are really bored and haven't played a 3D RPG ever, and are not bothered by a completely idiotic story;

Pretty much everything.



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