What's next? Might & Magic Kart Racing?
With roots dating back to 1987, Might & Magic has been a staple in PC role-playing for well over a decade. Though the last few games have been dismal, the excellent Heroes offshoot spawned a terrific line of turn-based strategy games.
Well, there should be a statute of limitations on how long you can ride a game's success before having to cash in your chips and start over. Someone decided that role-playing and strategy wasn't enough, and the next logical step was to crank out an action-adventure. The result was Crusaders of Might and Magic for the PSX, which was a genuine flop and should have warned against trying to take a license too far.
Instead, we get Warriors of Might and Magic, another third-person action RPG romp, but this time for the PS2. And while hardly as bad as its PSOne predecessor, this one seems content mired in utter mediocrity.
You play Alleron, a would-be hero accused of practicing Necromancy and cast into a pit of hopelessness. With a nasty mask 'o shame strapped to your head, you set out to clear your name and stop an all-encompassing evil from decimating the land.
So it ain't Shakespeare. Plus, whoever designed Alleron must be a fan of Siegfried and Roy, because our long-haired masked hero looks like a gay magician.
The gameplay is very straightforward. You run around 9 large levels hacking at monsters, solving simple puzzles and occasionally jumping around on platforms. Sound familiar?
Warriors of M&M follows traditional role-playing elements by allowing you to gain experience in four categories (strength, intelligence, endurance and speed), acquire and equip all manner of weapons and armor, and learn a dozen or so spells.
Most of your time is spent creeping around killing baddies. The combat is essentially a hackfest - just grab the burliest weapon you have and whack away until the enemy stops moving. The spells are largely generic - fireballs, ice storms, etc. - and tend to be very effective.
Unfortunately, the control gets a bit frisky because the camera operates independent of your character. Eventually you'll get used to it, but some gamers might find the analog sticks to be a little imprecise, particularly when it comes to jumping.
The delivery is decent if hardly next-generation. The world is generally believable, but some of the textures are incredibly grainy. 3DO knows how to crank out FMV, and while the general character design is lacking, the smooth cut-scenes are pretty high in quality. Plus, as you find and equip different items, you'll actually see the physical change on your character. This really helps with the mood.
But alas, Alleron moves with all the grace of a claymation figure dipped in wax; the jerky animations scream PSX. The enemies are also lacking in interesting animations, though some of the bigger ones look pretty cool.
However, none of them act cool at all. The AI is simply moronic. Baddies often get caught behind objects, leading to a quick demise. There is no teamwork among enemies - they just bum rush you like a bunch of screaming girls at an N'Sync show (not that I know what this looks like first hand). Sadly, it's not nearly as satisfying killing the denizens of Warriors as it is torturing randomly selected members of boy bands (not that anyone can prove a thing.)
To its credit, this is a big game. The 9 levels are split up into about 20 smaller sub-levels, and they're all pretty large. This won't be beaten in one sitting, I can guarantee.
There are also puzzles to deal with, few of which require much brainpower. Still, it's a nice touch in a game that doesn't really need it.
Frankly, Warriors of Might and Magic ends up giving gamers pretty much exactly what they'd expect - a decent yet uninspired action/RPG. While the dumb AI and trite gameplay will bore veterans, there's enough meat here to give the less discerning gamer some fun. Considering the largely disappointing offering of PS2 games available, this is at least worth a rental.