The Heroes of Might and Magic franchise was one of the most beloved franchises developed by New World Computing and published by 3DO. It spanned four games 3 of which were highly praised by strategy gamers while the fourth was a constant dispute between it being great or being horrid. Sadly 3DO and New World Computing were done making the series or any other series for that matter shortly after the release of Heroes IV. As Heroes of Might and Magic enthusiasts whimpered to the fall of the franchise hope was born in the form of Nival Interactive. Nival bought the rights to the Heroes of Might and Magic series and immediately started production on Heroes of Might and Magic V. I guess the biggest question came down toâ€¦ can Nival continue this gem of a franchise and improve on an already great game?
The graphics were completely redone from the previous games to make them more modern by creating a 3D world that allows you to easily zoom in on anything in the world to get a closer look, as well as spin the perspective to see around trees that may be blocking treasure. The graphical enhancements came with lively characters and a projectile camera in combat that follows the projectile as it heads toward your enemy. The cities are beautiful and vibrant and the structures are well put together to form a cohesive city by the end. For the most part the graphics are a welcome addition but still the old art style is missed.
The sounds of Heroes V are great but not nearly as good as the previous games in the series. The city music in Heroes has always been opera style music and that format has stayed the same. The style flows great with the mood of the game, but the music on the adventure map and in combat tends to get blah and repetitive. The combat and world sounds were all very basic but were good enough to keep you interested in what was happening on screen at the time.
The gameplay consists of a player selecting his starting castle between Academy, Haven, Dungeon, Inferno, Necropolis, and Sylvan; each castle has its own theme and set of creatures that can be hired. After the castle and map are picked the player sends his hero out to pick up scattered resources, and artifacts that greatly increase the power of the wielderâ€™s army. Each turn the player can build one structure in his castle as long as he has the resources required. This allows the player to hire units from structures he creates to help make his army more powerful. As the hero fights neutral or opposing players he earns experience and levels up gaining a random attribute and allowing the hero to pick 1 skill from a random list of 4 that pop up out of the 200+ skills in the game. Overall, the gameplay is identical to the previous Heroes games which made the franchise a huge hit in the first place.
Heroes V supports up to 8 players offline, network or online. The ability to play offline or hotseat games, as they are called, with up to 7 other people on a single computer is a rarity these days and is a refreshing feature. However, although the graphics engine gives the player more visual freedom it creates a few annoying problems within some of the multiplayer aspects of the game. At least in hotseat play when a player would turn or zoom in the camera and then end their turn the next player would be left with the same zoom and perspective the previous player had changed to, making the current player confused and lost as to where they are in the game world. This would cause many moments of bewilderment as to where I was going next. Another option that is available online or through a network is called duel mode. Duel Mode allows 2 players to go head to head with heroes they either previously leveled up or the player can opt to use one of the pre-made heroes. This mode is definitely for the more experienced Heroes V players because the creatures you control and go against can be any of the 60+ creatures in the game and winning requires knowledge of the creatureâ€™s strengths and weaknesses.
With the ability to create your own custom maps as well as download and share your maps online the replay value is very high and with the 200+ skills, 60+ creatures, 40 spells, and 6 different castles in the game there is lots to experiment with and explore. The game is addictive as a multiplayer game but the single player campaign leaves much to be desired and seems to move at a slow pace.
If you like building cities, destroying enemy armies, leveling up a hero, or conquering territories then Heroes of Might and Magic V is a must buy. The game is a decent recreation of its predecessors but it is far from what I had hoped it would be.
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