Why do people take a relatively well-working formula, then obliterate it almost completely? I refer to Might and Magic 9, a game released a while ago by 3DO, developed by New World
Computing. A good game gone bad, MM9 is a perfect example of what NOT to do with a good thing.
Now, I'm an avid Might and Magic fan. I remember playing Might and Magic: Clouds of Xeen and thinking that the game was one of the most spectacular things I had ever played. It had story, exploration, RPG elements, bad
guys to kill. I spent hours playing, and although I was really too young to get anywhere, I had loads of fun leveling up. Subsequent MM games were fun, but never really equalling the fun-ness of that first one. Or maybe it was Darkside of Xeen...nonetheless, my point is that it was good. It was fun, it was simple, it had a world to explore. MM9...has none of these things.
Well, perhaps the simplicity. Oh the simplicity! As you play, the whole
point of the game is to open your quest book and beat one of the quests in
it. Don't have quests? Find them. Everything else in the game just makes
those quests easier. I felt my brain vegetate as I played through the game for hours that I'm accustomed to. It was the same thing over and over and over and over and over and over and...point made. I play it and I know I
have lost all sense of that explorative sense that I had when I played MM 3-8. I remember flying over vast continents, leaping entire buildings with a single 'Jump' spell (yes kids, just like Superman!....sort of). But alas,
nothing is left for me. The developer said that it created this game according to the recommendations of players, but I seriously doubt either the knowledge of these players or the specificity as to which New World Computing followed these suggestions.
The game has a skill system which is pretty decent. Each time you level up
(by gaining experience points by killing monsters), you get some skill
points to put into weapon skills, armor skills, and a whole range of other
miscellaneous skills like merchant and whatnot. Once you get the skill to
a certain level, you can upgrade to higher rankings like expert and master.
You do this by talking to trainers, who for some reason, tend to be old
women on the streets of towns. The skills help you in the game, increasing
damage given, decreasing damage taken, etc.
The vast spacious lands full of grass and trees and mountains and plains,
which allowed for unbridled transportation, has turned into claustraphobic
paths surrounded by cliffs. The town is at one end, the bad guys at
another. If the map developer felt particularly creative that day, s/he would make
a path that actually branches off from the dull path built into the rock.
Want to get somewhere? Walk. Walk miles and miles through dull, expansive
terrain. In each area there is one town and one dungeon. Each town had to
be loaded before entering it, a change from previous MM games. And casting
Fly to soar over the land, gazing down at the ant-like enemies? Gone. The
coolest feature in the newer MM games has been removed. I almost cried.
Really. I was that close. And I had time to ponder each problem too, as
each area loaded with stunning, stunning sloth. The game has a neat loading
screen, a small ship sailing back and forth on a map, but even that gets
tiring after watching it for ten minutes. Sometimes the loading would lock
up, but the ship would continue sailing. This meant I was watching a ship
sail back and forth, back and forth, back and forth, for maybe twenty
But enough, enough, I've slandered enough of the game. Alright, the layout
of the land is 'horrible' (a quote from my notes). There are a few
improvements, however slight they may be. Let's look at the first obvious
change: the graphics have improved tremendously. No longer are bitmaps
rushing to meet their target. Now fully-rendered, detailed enemies attack
you. So are the townsfolk rendered happily. Unfortunately, however, they
all seem to have a total of five different faces to go around. Boring. An
interesting aspect of the game is the fact that, for the first time in
Might and Magic, you can go inside the houses and walk around in them. This is a
little improvement, but it is good to see.
Also, I remember a problem the other bitmap-errific Might and Magic games had.
If you were in a dungeon and looking for a man, you would not be able to
'see' him. You would need to keep pressing the 'search' button to find him. He
was invisible to your eye, and that bugged me to no end. That problem is no
more! Another good point to note is the inclusion of swimming. Before, you
would merely walk on the water while suffering damage (drowning,
Now, thanks to 3D, you can jump right in the water and pray that your
breath doesn't run out. But on to more important things. There is a day and night cycle within the game, although it seems pointless, as the game changes not a bit between
the two. Children play on the streets at night, just like day. Speaking of
town streets, they seem to be deserted. One has to wonder how the people get
along. There is very little story within the game, and that bugged me. Of
course, there is some story present, save the world and so forth, but I
never felt compelled to go ahead to discover more of what was happening.
This is the reason I quit playing it before beating the game. I just
didn't feel like it, and I moved on to other things.
It seems that New World Computing has gone for graphics over gameplay
(even so, the sky is poorly drawn, textures could be better, but I digress). The
problem here is that Might and Magic 9 seems more like a semi-linear
dungeon crawler. While this isn't a bad thing, the Might and Magic series has had
a better reputation than that. The freedom of exploring the landscape has
disappeared. The best spell, Fly, has disappeared. The whole thing has
left me waving my hands at the sky and screaming 'WHY?'. So many faults, so few good points. Alas, Might and Magic, what has
happened to you?
- Pentium II - 400 MHz
- 64MB RAM
- 16MB 3D accelerator