Game: Might and Magic: Clash of Heroes
Genre: Strategy RPG
Console: Xbox 360 (Reviewed), PS3
Try the game here.
RPG fans and strategy fanatics have a new game to love on the XBLA. Although the game is not without faults, there are so many fantastic parts that the addictive nature of the game play will have you humming with joy.
Well, although that first paragraph up there was glowing with praise, the story in the game is unfortunately not worthy of commendation, so if we can get it out the way first , the sickeningly awesome parts of the rest of Might and magic can shine through.
The problem with the story is in its originality , or rather, lack thereof.
Hundreds of years ago, a tradition started among the demons: they would randomly attack the human and Elvin populations. Suddenly, a weapon of magical power was bestowed upon the warring nations, and the lead demon managed to get his hands on it. This artillery piece granted the wielder ultimate overarching power over ANY and all demons. But, the humans and elves won the war anyway, and peace reigned in the land.
Years later in the time period that you play in, a delegation of tribes is meeting up when they are attacked. The convention members are killed and thus, it is up to their children (you) to find the fabled weapon that had been protected and hidden.
It would be easy to go on and on about plot holes and other defects in the story , but it is easy to recognize that a lot of other tales have been told with very similar plot lines. Luckily enough, it is easy to skip through the dialogue, and after the beginning cut scenes, there is really no reason to pay attention.
Where the story fails in depth though, the game play fully restores all faults made in that department. Most of the time spent in playing the game will used up while battling enemies throughout the land. And indeed, this is where the focus of the entire game is too. Two armies, yours and the enemies, will face off on separate sides of a battlefield. Getting past the attackers and doing damage to the other sides HP bar is the path to victory. However, actually performing these actions will require use of many different strategies and all the tools that the game provides you. To attack for instance, there must be a line of 3 soldiers standing in a vertical line, and the coloring on their uniforms must match. Organizing the troops effectively is a must, as defending your HP bar requires you to line up 3 matching soldiers in horizontal line, hence building a wall. Each time a trooper is placed into a different line, one move is subtracted and the player is allowed to keep setting up the battlefield until all moves are depleted.
Up to that point it sounds pretty simple. Nonetheless, there are still plenty more options for you to turn the tide in battle. For example, if you remove a soldier from the field, it costs a move, but if, once that soldier is removed and the person behind moves up to create a matching formation, a bonus move is added. If it is possible to match up 2 formations of soldiers before an attack is made, then the two formations are linked together and they will cause extra damage when unleashed. There are plenty of other strategic moves too. Setting up two regular defenders behind a specialized attacker, and then linking them, will put a huge dent in into the nasty demon on the other side. Fusing 6 colored uniforms will produce a defensive line with twice the power as a standard formation. Once you win a battle, all the characters and fighters used will be leveled up.
Although the battling part of Might and Magic is the most interesting, it will only level up the characters and attackers so much. Exploring the land, finding hidden treasures and upgrades, completing side quests or progressing the story is also a lot of fun. In addition, you can buy new attackers, or find new ones while travelling. Each attacker has different traits that can be used in battle.
One feature that was great while I was learning all about the battle systems was the tutorial. It explained everything clearly and succinctly, leaving no room for confusion. Sometimes, it was almost a little too detailed, but it was still nice not be looking for answers on how I was supposed to complete a battle, or learn a combo. There is an option to skip these tutorials if you wold like too, but there is so many things to learn, I would suggest sticking with the helpful system.
The art style in the game is also sublime. The characters are a little cartoony, however they are not so childish that they distract from many of the more adult elements in the game. Environments are also presented in an amazing style, and they were a joy to explore. The only issue with the graphics is that it was difficult to discern the uniform color of a particular unit. This was a big problem, as almost the entire game is based on matching together different colors.
For a game that is $15.00, Might and Magic does pack quite a punch. Although I hate anything over 800 points on XLBA, this game is worth it. There are over 20 hours of campaign goodness, plus online and local multi-player and coop support. With plenty of hard-hitting game play spread throughout, there is only one possible answer to the question, ‘Should I buy it?’ Yes.