The introduction hints at some alien humanoid
race appearing in Erathia (remember, from Heroes of Might & Magic III,
reviewed by Tok IT on Nov 24 last year? This game takes place AFTER the events
of Heroes III). These aliens bear special cubes, which pique the interest of the
forces of Light and Darkness.
Then the player is thrown into the character
creation screen. Like many computer role-playing games,
MM7 allows you to create your own heroes - four, in fact. Your heroes can be
knights, archers, thieves, monks, clerics, druids, sorcerers or rangers. They can also be of a race other than human:
traditional fantasy races of dwarves, elves and goblins. After you are done with that, you begin the
A contest for Harmondale
Your heroes, it seems, have entered themselves
into a contest, a simple one in which they must find certain items (a scavenger
hunt). Once they accomplish this, they win the contest and are appointed Lords
of Harmondale. The dialogue that accompanies this appointment suggests that the
prize may not be worth winning after all.
You see, Harmondale lies between the kingdoms
of the elves and the humans. And the two races are at war. Yes, Harmondale is
right smack in the middle of it, more so since Harmondale and the land around it
are the subject of the war. Your heroes get to decide whether they are for
or against either faction (if you play it smart you may still stay neutral), and
after competing a few quests you get a chance to decide your heroes' affinity -
Light or Darkness.
What happens is that after some time in the
game, the arbiter of the war dies, and your heroes, being the Lords of
Harmondale, get to pick the successor. Your choice of successor has a major impact on
the game ... choose the peacemaker (and hence the Path of Light) and peace is
ensured. Pick the warmonger (and tread the Path of Darkness) and the war
continues. There is no middle ground, though. What fun. Each path has its own quests, so what I did was
to play MM7 twice ... and yes, the quests are different indeed.
Not only that, the graphical interface changes
too ... it was grey earlier, but once you choose Light, it turns white. Choose
Darkness and in the interface turns crimson (that's blood red for you). Areas that may be safe for followers of Light
are treacherous for followers of Dark, and vice versa. Because this choice is made somewhat early in
the game, it gives MM7 a bit of replayability.
There are plenty of quests in
MM7. Some are
mere side quests and have no real impact on the main one (like the usual
"please find this artifact hidden in that location"), while others
impact on the overall game itself (say for example, if you are overwhelmingly
pro-humans, the Elvish King will not grant you an audience).
One of the side quests deserves a mention ... Arcomage. This is a quest in which the heroes must visit every tavern (13 in
all) and win a game of Arcomage. Arcomage is a card game (available as a
separate game as well from 3DO), very much like Wizards of the Coasts' Magic:
The Gathering (a computer game spin-off of the FIRST collectible card game).
In Arcomage you have a tower and a wall, and
resources. The aim of the game is to build a tower or accumulate resources to
exceed the match requirements. Or you can just demolish the opponent's tower.
How does it look?
The character portraits of your heroes are
decent. Visually, however, the graphics engine is crude by today's standards. Even though the game developers (New World
Computing) boasts of 3D-accelerator support, the game doesn't look all that
better, even with a high-end graphics card. 3D hardware does add some nice lighting effects
to spells and smoothes some of the game's jagged surfaces, but even in this mode
the non-player characters and monster models are fuzzy if you get too close. On a positive note, the animated renderings
when you enter a building are excellent, especially in the dark cities.
How does it sound?
The sound effects in MM7
is again decent, which
means it's not impressive. The music, however, is excellent. The orchestral score is ominous and uses a
light amount of opera. The voice acting is somewhat a let-down,
though. The dialogue can be funny at times, but still?
How does it fight?
Okay, here's the thing ... in most CRPGs,
combat is a major part of the game. It is the same with MM7. You can alternate
between real-time combat and turn-based at the touch of a key (usually Enter). Problem is, that's the thing ... in
seems to be the solution for everything. The game developers must think that if killing
a monster is cool, surely killing 100 monsters is 100 times cooler? My heroes must have killed over 1,000 monsters
by the time I finished the game. It gets tedious after a while. Also, unlike other CRPGs (like the excellent
Baldur's Gate), there is no option for combatant order. You know, like putting
the tougher Knights and Monks in front and the weaker Clerics and Sorcerers at
Nope. In MM7 everyone seems to be on the frontline.
Makes me feel like I'm playing ONE hero with multiple moves each time. MM7 is also open to the missile abuse. Because
there is no limit on the arrows/quarrels you fire, a common tactic is to run AND
fire away at monsters. If those monsters have no ranged attacks, its goodbye to
them awfully quickly. One bonus (depending on how you look at it) is
the range of monsters you get to fight with ... from goblins to dragonflies,
ogres to dragons, even celestial beings!
Okay, MM7 isn't all that bad, really. Once you
look beyond the lousy combat system, you will see that the storyline is
interesting enough (not as way cool as, say Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn
Planescape: Torment, however) and the hero advancement system makes sense (at
least). And once your heroes become powerful enough
(especially after gaining the ability to fly), fighting the hordes of monsters
becomes a piece of cake. MM7 is a fairly decent game. If you are new to
CRPGs or are not looking for any serious (read: thinking) computer role-playing
gaming, MM7 is for you.
Might & Magic 7: For Blood & Honour
Pros: Easy to play, minimal brainpower required
Cons: Too much emphasis on combat, minimal
Developer: New World Computing