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Publisher: 3DO    Genre: Adventure & RPG
Min OS X: Not Supported    CPU: 603    RAM: 64 MB    Graphics: 640x480 @ 256 Colors


Heroes of Might & Magic III
June 1, 2000 | Michael Eilers
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In this 3D real-time anti-aliased 600 MHz force-feedback massively multiplayer gaming market, there is a rare and refined pleasure in enjoying a game title that chooses a contemplative, story-driven path and classic game play over this week's technology discovery. While humble in its 2D, turn-based world in comparison to the latest death match gorefest, Heroes of Might and Magic III builds on a powerful and popular series of games by refining the interface and increasing ease-of-use, while keeping those elements that made the previous titles such a hit.

Let's get right to the point - if you were at all a fan of Heroes of Might and Magic II, despite the deep flaws of that PC port to the Mac, then stop wasting your time reading this review and go buy this sequel. There is no need to read any further. All the classic elements of Heroes 2 game play are there, with dozens more monsters, a refined magic system, 800x600 16-bit graphics and many significant interface tweaks. If you managed to get even halfway through the previous game, you'll find this one just as engrossing and addictive. Buy it.

For those of you that need further convincing, read on - while I thoroughly enjoyed this game, it is not without flaws and oversights. It will frustrate those who are totally unfamiliar with the series, and even a simple game on a small map can take hours to finish. Yet those hours will spin by like wind through a windmill, as you are dazzled by the sights and sounds of this game, and enchanted by its strategies, so simple in concept yet so fearsomely complex in application.

So You Want To Be a Hero
For those unfamiliar with this series, the Heroes of Might and Magic games are a curious blend between traditional hack-and-slash RPGs and turn-based strategy, with a little empire building thrown in. Playing as the invisible leader attempting to conquer territory and resources, you hire heroes, equip them with troops and defensive structures and send them out to explore the world of Erathia. This magical countryside is chock full of valuable resources, magic artifacts of great power just lying around and of course other heroes competing for the same cities and resources. Whether playing through one of six campaigns or on the dozens of single and multiplayer maps, the goal is always the same - to be the last one standing when the dust clears.

Adventures in Erathia
The entire game is turn-based, with a limited amount of movement possible per "day" for each hero. Certain activities, or traveling over various types of terrain, determines how far you can move, modified by the abilities of your hero and his or her army. Combat is similarly turn-based, with the movement and number of attacks for each group of creatures determined by your combat bonuses and their own innate abilities.

Unlike a traditional RPG, you can't keep your heroes or castles (or riches) and move them from game to game. Each time you play, with the exception of certain campaign maps, you start from scratch with a wimpy, inexperienced hero and a city that is little more than a collection of shacks. By acquiring gold - by far the most important resource - as well as various building and magical resources, you equip your castle, hire an army of multitudinous creatures who will fight to the death for you and go out and crush your enemies. Sometimes the goal is to take a certain castle on the map; other times, you must find a particular artifact, or reach a certain amount of cash before time runs out. Most of the time, the best way to win is by simply exterminating your competitors and taking their castles away, eliminating them from the game.

With six different castle types, 12 types of heroes, dozens of monster and warrior types and many magical artifacts, no game will ever play the same way twice. Radically different in abilities yet exquisitely balanced, the various heroes and their troops make for some thrilling battles late in the game, as the most powerful creature types face off accompanied by high-level magic. Large, detailed maps with many unique events and features make for a great multiplayer experience, although online contests can last hours even on small maps. If you are looking for a more contemplative, strategy based style of game and the frantic clicking of games such as Starcraft and Myth II aren't for you, then Heroes is worth a look.



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