Monday, June 29, 2009

Might and Magic IX

I know, Might and Magic IX is an old game, but I haven't played it because, after being a HUGE fan of Might and Magic 1 through 5 I got really dissapointed with versions 6,7 and 8, which used 3D technology, but presented a lot less as the game story and playability was concerned. Then I played the tenth version, Dark Messiah of Might and Magic, which was a completely different game, more of an Arx Fatalis 2, rather than M&M 10. Not that it wasn't very very cool, just wasn't what I had expected from an M&M game.

Enter Might and Magic IX. From the start it looked less modern than versions 6-8, which prompted my friend to think that he played more recent versions of the game. It became soon apparent that it was an attempt to go back to the roots. The game was complex, the map large, the monsters inventive and the storyline pretty interesting. Also, they returned to the old solution of dungeons, where entering a place was moving you to a new map, rather than a small part of the larger one.

I loved every moment of it until close to the end. The cities at the end of the game had less stuff in them, less monsters around and of a more poor quality. I kind of expected that, since it must have been a long software project plagued by a release deadline in the end. However, when I had to spend hours trying to get around dungeons filled with powerful yet silly monsters just to get to the end, I got very bored. I actually did not finish the game, only about 95% of it.

The game had an unhealthy amount of undead creatures, which made Turn Undead a very useful spell. Unfortunately, I think it was a bit buggy. After a strong Turn Undead monsters continued to run, even if the spell wore off. Another really nice spell was Enrage, which allowed one to make monsters fight each other. Wizard Eye was a bit annoying, since it lasted a too short a time.

I recommend you check the character development tree (Druid, Healer, Lich, Gladiator, Assassin, etc) and decide from the very start which character in your party will be what. Pay extra attention to the promotions. You may be able to promote more characters in the same time, but then you are commited to that path with all of the characters. Try to build each character in a different class. Some allow for very powerful spells that one cannot learn or use otherwise.

I don't want to spoil anything, so I will let you play it and enjoy. I applaud the return to the old values of Might and Magic, even if those older games had a lot more brain and humour in them and this had a lot of braun. The ending was inconsistent with the M&M storyline so far which was disappointing.

Bottom line: greatest of the true Might and Magic 3D games, I wish I was young again and full of free time so I can play it without looking at the clock all the time. If you somehow missed it, do play it.