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
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
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.
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.
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.