Might and Nothing You Haven't Seen Before VIII
Might and Magic VI is a pretty entertaining
game. It's loaded with quests and customization, and there's...huh? What? I'm
not reviewing Might and Magic VI? Oh, yeah, I'm sorry, okay. Ahem...
Might and Magic VII is, in exactly the
same way Might and Magic VI was, a fun and deep...huh? Hey, wait a second.
I'm supposed to be reviewing Might and Magic VIII. Okay, yeah, my bad.
Ya see, when you're playing the game, you tend to forget, since VI, VII,
and VIII are about as difficult to distinguish from one another as three
brand new golf balls.
However, I have discovered a trick. The game boxes are different. Yes, Might
and Magic VIII's box sports a troll, a knight, a woman and a dragon, and
looks nothing like any of the boxes for any of the other M&M games. Innovation,
pure and simple.
The story in Might and Magic VIII differs from its predecessors as well,
in that it is the worst one ever. Some random, evil-looking dude walks right
into the middle of a town called Ravenshore, freaks out, and causes himself
to be engulfed by this gigantic, red crystal that miraculously pops up out of
the ground. The crystal unleashes some energy and causes four elemental disasters
in the four corners of the world. The four disasters cause all kinds of strife
in their own regions, and the whole world is thrown into chaos. You, whomever
you choose to be, have to clean up the mess and beat down the destroyer. Yeah,
really refreshing and cool. Never heard of going to the four elemental planes
Like every other Might and Magic, you begin by choosing and customizing
a character. You can pick four different appearances for eachof the 7 types
of characters - human knights, human clerics, human necromancers, vampires (which
suck), dark elves (pretty sorry too), minotaurs and trolls. Each has its own
strengths and weaknesses. Some characters start useless (necromancers) and get
cooler, and some just stay useless (dark elves and vampires). As you go on you
can also pick up dragons to add to your party, and the big lizards kick tons
Your characters can also get promoted, but only once. Dragons become wyrms,
necromancers become liches, and so on. Pretty standard, and only cool because
your party gets a load of experience for each promotion. Characters can be further
developed through skill points, which were also earlier M&Ms. When you
go up a level you get some points to delegate out in order to strengthen specific
skills, and reaching certain numbers of points gives you bonuses and cool extras
in each area. For example, when you get to the tenth level of mace skill, you're
occasionally able to paralyze monsters when you whack them.
Combat in VIII is (bet you don't see this one coming) exactly
the same as the combat in VI and VII. It can either be turn-based
or real-time, and there's always a whole lot of it.
real-time combat is usually pretty lame, which I attribute to the game's engine.
If this game were made on, say, the Quake
III engine (as opposed to the Might and Magic VI engine), and you
had some real real-time options, then this would be one of the coolest
games ever. But as it stands, real-time combat is only useful in the quick destruction
of weak enemies and in running away from the mind-boggling hordes of baddies
you have to fight everywhere you go.
The gravity and physics of the real-time mode are awful. This game might have
been up with the status quo 4 years ago, but next to first-person games like
Half-Life, the movement and 3D environments
in this game are totally outdated.
Surprisingly, the graphics are much better. Ahhhh-hahahahaha! Just kidding!
No really, the graphics are terrible. The creatures are huge, graphical monstrosities
of jumbled pixels. Up close the resolution is brutal, though it ain't so great
from far away, either. All of the enemies and NPCs mulling around outside are
two-dimensional, as are the flowers and trees. Might and Magic VIII presents
a graphical world I hoped time forgot, a universe of walking cardboard cut-outs.
On the other hand, everything other than the environmental world is really
nice looking. The character portraits are well drawn. There's a little 'resting'
animation that looks cool. And there's even some decent CGI. These little details
are just icing on the cake...but when the cake is made of earwax and soap scum,
who cares about the icing?
The music in Might and Magic VIII is kick ass, and this time I'm being
serious. It sounds good and it's well done. Some of it is a bit odd - I think
one of the tracks in the Troll village is set to a disco beat. The voices are
good, the sound effects are good and the music is good (No really, how's
the sound? Is it good? - Ed.). There are even some snappy little dialogues.
For example, if you walk out of a store without buying anything the owner will
say something negative about your lineage, and you might retort with something
about him being a sissy. Wow! Neat! Did I mention the box was different?
Frankly, Might and Magic VIII is a half-assed production. It seems
like the developers figured they'd try to drain a little more money out of yesterday's
game, as opposed to giving you something truly worth buying. If you want more
of the same - the exact, outdated same - then this is the game for you.
Personally, I'm waiting for Baldur's Gate II.