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Warriors of Might and Magic

Developer: 3DO | Publisher: 3DO
Players: 1 Player Game | Release Date: 03/17/01 | Genre: Action

Okay think Doom. Now take away the guns. Now take away the wholesale slaughter. Now take away the strategy. Now make it a quest type of game, a la capture the flag, but with more steps to it. Add two cups of magic and mayhem, a touch of swordplay, and a smidgen of monster fever. You have Warriors of Might and Magic... in a pipe dream.

It isn't that the game is boring, so much as it seems to go nowhere. Well that isn't quite true. There is a linear mode of thought to the game. Get magic key, to open magic door, to find magic potion, to release obnoxious magic bird. It does lead somewhere, it leads to exactly where it wants you to go, and if I wanted that I would have gotten a game with better graphics, like Final Fantasy VII.

Let's start off with the worst part of the game: the graphics. The characters are very blocky in blocky 3D generated world. The masked man you play throughout most of the game looks like a blind sculptor cut him out of stone using a small hatchet. During the cinema scenes he looks only slightly better. The other human characters run along a similar vein. Even the women fall into the anatomically impossible range, due to the fact that not only do they have gigantic breasts, their breast are shaped like an Acura. The monsters, which I consider to be one of the most important parts in a role-playing game, are not only blocky but they lack any psychological impact. I was never taken back by a beast (living or dead) in this game. It was basically block and slash anything that gets in my way, and if that doesn't work blast it with magic until it dies. Which leads me to the gameplay.

The controls on this sucker are confusing at first, but after a while you get used to them. This was one of the few aspects of the game that I did enjoy. I am always amazed at how computer games are adapted to a console system. Two buttons are assigned to attack depending on if you want to hack or slash, with combos thrown in for good measure. Magic takes one button, and jumping another. Now this is where it gets a bit confusing. Blocking is assigned to one of the top buttons, action (open, close, talk) to another, crouching and aiming to the remaining two. The four direction buttons have a different affect for each one. One allows for the changing of weapons, another is for items, another is to use items, and the last is to change spells. Now, the first twenty or thirty minutes of the game will be spent attempting to remember and how to use each button correctly, and an inability to remember and use each button correctly will result in your death. But after a long and arduous process you will get the buttons down and be able to successfully attack and defend yourself, I hope.

Returning to my original strategy, block and attack, I must admit this does not always work, so you will often find yourself falling back on your secondary strategy, running away. In fact if there is more than one monster, and you find yourself being attacked on all sides, I would strongly recommend this course of action. Which leads me to another of the few upsides to this game. The monsters are programmed correctly. They see you and they will run after you, sometimes in pacts. Which is why I love the running away strategy.

The sound is very noticeable. That is to say you will become annoyed with it after a while. The worst part is the sound of your sword (axe, club, enter your weapon of choice here) scraping up against a creature of stone. Can anyone say nails on chalkboard? That, and the sound of gargoyles screaming at the top of their voices when they see you and until they die, makes me wish that all of the monster in this game were undead. The undead are, thankfully, very quiet. Though the undead do make this annoying sound like the wind is being knocked out of them, which is hard to fathom because they don't breath.

Finally all we are left with is a story, and I'm happy to say the people at 3DO at least put some work into that. In clips and phrases you are introduced to the story of our hero as a wronged man seeking an escape from the mask of the accused (okay maybe it does sound a bit too much like the man in the Iron Mask). There is a sense of history and myth in the game, what with gods, and the children of gods making their way through life and achieving perfection to become one with their father (and that sounds a little too much like Hinduism for my taste). The story may not be original but it is good. I just wish 3DO had introduced a bit more of the Might and Magic world into the game.

Overall I did not like Warriors of Might and Magic, and would not buy it, but for some strange reason I find myself compelled to play it. Maybe I am hearkening back to my days of tabletop D&D. Maybe it is my love of the Might and Magic series which, despite this game, I would recommend to any computer RPG player. Warriors of Might and Magic does not take advantage of the PS2's graphics, takes too much advantage of its sound system, and fails to offer up a tangible reason to pick it up except there really are not that many RPG's out for the PS2 yet. Still give it a try, it is just about worth the money to rent it. Who knows, you might find the strange fascination in it that I did.

By Michael Moran - 08/01/00
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