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Heroes of Might & Magic IV

Score: 90%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: 3DO
Developer: New World Computing
Media: CD/2
Players: 1
Genre: Strategy

Graphics & Sound:

Thankfully taking a different path from all the other choppy 3D strategy games, Heroes of Might & Magic IV sticks with a simple, unchangeable isometric view, complete with nicely detailed sprite based graphics. The simplicity of the game engine takes precedence over things like rotating and zooming, but these omitted options won't be keeping you from going about your business in an easy and efficient manner.

Some say music can either make or break a game, no matter how good the gameplay. Followers of this belief will be hard pressed to decide which side of the line Heroes lies on. Half the time you'll be tapping your feet to the enchanting fantasy rhythms that permeate the game's atmosphere, and the other half of the time you'll be trying to poke your ear drums out. It's not yet a crime to put that much elevator music in a game, and until that day comes, we'll all have to put up with what should be a sin. Thankfully, though, the sound effects are all on spot. They don't make up for the ugly half of the score, but they don't hurt, either.


Gameplay:

Heroes is a turn based strategy, set in a realm of fantasy and illusion, complete with dragons, knights, elves, ogres, and just about any other fantasy creature, element, or clich you could think of. These creatures are split up into six different sides, and each side is as unique from each other as the fingerprints on your hands. There are distinct differences between each, and no two go about doing the same thing in entirely the same way.

Amongst the options are a Campaign mode and a Scenario mode. The Scenario mode gives you a choice of about 30 different maps to choose from, with each map offering different aspects of gameplay. The staggering number of maps may lull you into a false sense of feeling that with that many maps, the replay value must be limitless. Without a map editor, these maps just give you a hefty amount of situations to play with without having to create your own. Though they are all different, don't let the main focus of the game pass you by, which is to crush your enemies, and this will be your ultimate goal no matter how many different ways you want to look at it.

The Campaign mode, on the other hand, lets you explore the histories, capabilities, strengths and weaknesses of each side. There are six different Campaigns, as there are six different sides to choose from. Each Campaign corresponds to a different side, sending you through a linear series of maps to conquer, each with its own enemies and goals.

The actual gameplay, as stated earlier, is turn based. You can spend as much time on each of your turns as you want, without having to worry about any harm coming to your armies while you're making crucial decisions. You carry out your mission via the use of your armies and heroes, who you send around the map to do your bidding.

As with any strategy game, there is always the question of resource gathering. In a not so conventional way, Heroes handles the resource gathering through a system of buildings and specific locations scattered throughout the map. In order to collect resources, you have to send an army to these buildings to gain control of them. It's kind of like a game of tag, where whoever touched the building last gets resources from it, as long as it is under that player's control.


Difficulty:

Heroes of Might & Magic IV is a very detailed and intricate game, full of stats, stories, items, and characters. Along with this flood of content comes a steep learning curve for new comers to the series. A heavy RPG element looms over the entire game, but does not make itself apparent at first, possibly fooling would be Heroes players into thinking they are getting into just a strategy game. However, despite the thick instruction book, a little determination from non-RPG fans can help them break through the thick layer of fog that covers their no-man's land that is the role playing element. Once past this mental block, though, there will still be a certain amount of challenge. This game is no cake walk, and shouldn't be taken lightly.

Game Mechanics:

Heroes of Might & Magic IV combines a number of elements from different genres of games to make its own recipe of goodness. The entire game is played from an isometric view, which includes the world map and the battle map. To explore the world map, you move your armies about the place, provided they have enough movement points, which replenish after every turn. The battle map is similar, in that every unit has a certain number of movement points per turn. However, the entire map is revealed during the battle and you and your opponent can see each other completely.

The fighting isn't all about who has the most units, though. Items play a large role in the fighting, as your hero units can hold many different things, including weapons, spell scrolls, and bonus artifacts that can boost their stats. The heroes aren't there for show, they play a very important role and are almost always more powerful than the average unit.

Heroes does a fine job in combining a lot of good elements from other games and integrating them into what is arguably a new genre. Despite its complex rules, long and detailed back-story, and steep learning curve, this game is put together well. While not targeting the casual novice player, Heroes of Might & Magic IV rises above the competition by stepping up the challenge level a few notches, but also pulling off a system that is inherently playable, enjoyable, and more than slightly addictive.


-Snow Chainz, GameVortex Communications
AKA Andrew Horwitz

Minimum System Requirements:



Windows 95/98/Me/2K, 300 MHz Processor, 750 MB Hard Disk Space, 128 MB RAM, 4X CD - ROM, 4MB Video Card
 

Test System:



Windows 98, 1.4GHz AMD Athlon, GeForce 2 mx 32MB video card, 40 gig hard drive, 56x CD-ROM, 256MB DDR Ram, Sound Blaster Live! sound card, T1 Internet connection

Windows Hegemonia: Legions of Iron Windows High Heat Major League Baseball 2003

 
Game Vortex :: PSIllustrated