A little background
The current setting began with
Heroes of Might
and Magic II. The king of Enroth is dead, and his sons Roland (good) and
Archibald (evil) fight for the crown. In the end Roland wins, and becomes king. Then the story continues in
Might & Magic
VI: The Mandate of Heaven (a pretty cool CRPG).
The realm of Enroth is in trouble from some
alien invaders, Roland is missing (kidnapped by the aliens), his queen Catherine
has left for her homeland Erathia because her father has died. The people are restless, thinking that the
crown prince had lost the Mandate of Heaven, the divine right to rule. So you
have to make sure Enroth doesn't crumble.
You rescue Roland and beat the aliens. End of
story ... yeah, right. Then came Heroes III: The Restoration of
Bad news in Erathia
The intro shows Catherine arriving at a port
city to find it sacked. Forces of darkness are threatening to overwhelm the
forces of good (yes, the same old line). She vows to restore her father's
kingdom. You, the player, must help her vanquish the forces of evil (led by
Catherine's undead father!).
What you need
Heroes III will run on any IBM PC and 100%
compatibles with a Pentium 133MHz processor of better. The PC must run on
Windows 95/98 or NT4.0, have a minimum 32MB of RAM, a 4-speed CD-ROM drive, and
a DirectX 6.0 compatible video card (most are) capable of 800x600 16-bit
display. And of course, 200MB of hard disk space.
Playing Heroes III
The turn-based gameplay has you recruiting
mercenary heroes, whom you then guide about an overhead map jam-packed with
resources, treasure, magical artifacts, mysterious landmarks, monsters, and
more. Using the resources your heroes acquire, you
upgrade your towns so that they can produce more powerful units, or still more
resources. Meanwhile, your heroes gain experience, skills,
and spells, and you put them in command of the largest armies that you can
afford in an ultimate effort to defeat the enemy mercenaries looking to conquer
you first. In this game you need to balance resources
between recruiting new troops and heroes, and building new facilities in your
It's not all war
Half the game is spent exploring and building,
and the other half is spent in battle. The overhead map switches to a side view when
you engage in combat, at which point you must command your various creatures
against their enemies, taking turns moving unit stacks one by one depending on
their speed. You can have up to seven types of creatures
serving under a hero (as opposed to five in the previous games), with seven
unique creatures available in each of the eight town types.
Every creature can also be upgraded, making it
more powerful yet more expensive to recruit. For example, the Gremlin unit is a pretty weak
"infantry" unit. Once upgraded to Master Gremlin, it gains the ability
to hurl leg irons at the enemy!
Each town is well balanced, and although the
units roughly correlate between towns, most of them are unique. In fact, many of the creatures (both old and
new) now have special abilities; archangels can resurrect their fallen comrades,
unicorns create a defensive anti-magic aura, and cavaliers deal more damage if
they charge their target, vampires can regenerate, etc.
Combat plays out simply, but a great deal of
complexity lies beneath the surface, as your hero's attributes and spells tend
to sway the course of a battle.
The single player game
The single player game spans six campaigns
detailing the war to claim the kingdom of Erathia from the perspective of good,
evil, and mercenary leaders alike. The story isn't played up too much, but the
campaign missions themselves are well designed and appear deceptively small. In fact, many contain subterranean caverns as
well as the usual overworld territory, often demanding hundreds of turns across
many hours of play. And if you can finish the campaigns, you still
have dozens of single player maps to try, with the promise of many more to come
thanks to the map editor included with the game.
Meanwhile, Heroes III
is a much better
multiplayer game than its predecessors, as you can scroll around the map and
review your forces when it's not your turn. Heroes III doesn't alter the formula set forth
by its ancestors, but represents a refinement and improvement on caliber with
the finest sequels ever released. The promise of much more of everything -
heroes, towns, creatures, artifacts, skills, spells - is gracefully accomplished
so as to accentuate the game's complexity, style, and strategy without making it
feel excessive. Much like its predecessors,
successfully combines a number of elements that are enjoyable and accessible on
their own, but when combined and weighed as a whole, they add up to a game
that's both entertaining and rewarding.
Expanding on your heroes
Armageddon's Blade is one BIG expansion pack.
It offers a handful of great campaigns and introduces just enough new
innovations to make the same old, same old seem like brand new fun. In short,
Armageddon's Blade is an excellent single-player expansion. If you've played Heroes III
to death, then
Armageddon's Blade will be a true treat.
The game has one full-size grand campaign and
five smaller ones; the grand campaign tells the story of the expansion's title,
Armageddon's Blade, which refers to the powerful magical weapon the evil ones
seek to bring into being. Should the blade be forged, the world of
Erathia will be destroyed. Each scenario of the campaign revolves around
some aspect of the forging of this superweapon, and you'll play on both the good
and evil sides depending on the scenario.
There are two new hero types, the Planeswalkers
and the Elementalists; 23 new creatures to hire and deal with (such as elfin
sharpshooters); and three new kinds of dragons. This story also introduces a new town type, the
elemental Conflux, and the various creatures that spawn in it.
As far as gameplay goes, there are 38 new
single scenarios and a bunch of modifications to the map, campaign, and random
scenario generator systems. The new additions continue to help the series
blur the line between RPG and strategy to good effect.
Nota bene: Heroes III
has a another
expansion now as at press time, entitled The Shadow of Death. Once we get our hands on it, we may
write a review on it.
How do they look
Heroes III (plus the expansion
Armageddon's Blade) looks great. The sprites look pretty good, and the overall game, like its
predecessors, has a cartoonish feel to it. After all, we are talking war here, and it
actually looks cute when your Dread Knight units swing their scythes down on the
enemy's Ogre units ... the level of gaming violence is minimal. The game cinematics are few ... one at the
start of the game (the intro) and then there's the end scene (same with
Armageddon's Blade). But they are a-okay (not exceptional).
How do they sound
The music is good. One thing I missed from
Heroes II was the opera singing. Well, never mind. The music changes from one town type to the
other, and changes again when you enter battle.
What's the verdict
If you have the upper, upper body strength for
strategy games but not the dexterity needed for RTS games, Heroes III would be
just be for you. In any case Heroes III is an excellent game,
well worthy of all the awards it has been getting.
Heroes of Might & Magic III: The
Restoration of Erathia
Heroes of Might & Magic III:
Pros: Great music, cute graphics, excellent
Cons: None, really
Developer: New World Computing