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Heroes of Might and Magic IV Elite Edition

Developer: New World Computing | Publisher: 3DO
Players: 1 to 2 Player Game | Release Date: 03/29/02 | Genre: Strategy

In this latest installment in the Heroes of Might and Magic series, New World Computing has managed to set it far apart while still holding on to what make's this series a classic. It's a turn-based RTS with several RPG elements that will slowly take over your life.

You get assigned a persistent hero that you can have specialize in magic, regular combat or a little of both. Like all RPGs it gains experience, levels and magic spells while collecting different artifacts that will increase any number of skills. You get assigned a town by the computer and this is your main base. Here you'll raise an army and build the town up. Once you've gat a nice war party you'll need to venture out to explore the map to complete different mission and gather resources so you can keep adding to your army and town. Each hero belongs to one of the six groups each with it's own distinct towns, creatures and magic specialties. Each map has so many treasures, resources, artifacts, side quests and other assorted building that can teach you skills and boost you hero's power temporarily that the main story is just icing on the cake.

There are six full campaigns, lots of individual scenario maps and a campaign editor. It's called a campaign editor not a scenario editor because it lets you create scenarios and then link them together in a campaign. That way you can share them with you friends because that's the only way you'll play with them. There isn't a multi-player mode for this game yet.

Your fight both wandering monsters and the armies of enemy heroes. Unlike the other games in the series your armies take and receive damage all at the same time. They also added a line of fire system for all the creatures that have ranged weapons. So depending on the view you can get anywhere from 100% accuracy to 5%. That way you can't just sit back and launch arrows and spells at the enemy to win. You'll need to go after them to do some real damage.

Another addition is quick combat. With this on the computer settles the fight for you. They also changed the branching paths of the tech trees in the game. It's no longer a race to build as many creature buildings and the largest army you can. You'll have to decide between creatures of the same power level. Now, depending on that choice different buildings and creatures are either available or locked out.

Your hero is now part of the battle and can be attacked by the enemy creatures. But if he dies the battle can continue unless that's one of the ways you lose. So a strong hero can turn the tied of battle. Thankfully you can hire multiple hero characters. So you can have a warrior of Order and a wizard of Life in the same party along with other creatures from both camps. You can also split your army in two and have duel heroes covering the map taking over different things. Allowing for a real divide and conquer format.

When you defeat an enemy hero it is placed in the prison in your town. If you're town gets overrun all the enemies you have prisoner get set free. This adds a greater challenge and better planning. If you take over some one else's town you become responsible for all the people they defeated. So if your enemy wipes the green armies off the map and you take over his town they all go free for you to re capture.

There are so many new features added to the existing great formula that this game shouldn't be missed. By the way the only difference between the Elite and Standard Editions is that the Elite Edition comes with one-year free access to the Might and Magic Guild. This is where you're supposed to be able to talk to the designers, give feedback and possibly input into new titles. Right now and since March 28 the only thing there is a new scenario for you to download. So I'd save the extra 10 bucks and wait a year before joining.

By Jason White - 05/06/02
ESRB Details: Animated Blood, Violence
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Screenshots for Heroes of Might and Magic IV Elite Edition

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