Myth III: The Wolf Age Review
In the past, the Myth series of games have featured deep, interesting storylines and compelling atmospheres mixed together with exciting (and quite bloody) real-time combat. Myth III: The Wolf Age is the latest game in the series and it succeeds in continuing this tradition, while making several improvements over the games that came before it.
Although The Wolf Age is the third game in the series, it is technically not a sequel. Myth III is actually a prequel to the previous two games, taking place 1,000 years prior. Those familiar with the storylines of the previous games will recognize a few of the characters in Myth III, since they go on to become the Fallen Lords and Soulblighter in Myth and Myth II. They were not always evil, and will fight the good fight with you in Myth III. Myth III's storyline stands up very well on its own, though, so players new to the series will not feel like they walked into the middle of a movie with no idea of what's going on.
Gameplay in Myth III is centered on real-time battles fought between fantasy creatures such as dwarves and the orc-like myrkridia, as well as men in such roles as archers, knights, barbarians, and mages. Fans of the prior Myth games will recognize the races in Myth III and some of the units as well. However, Myth III has added a host of new units to both sides of the good versus evil conflict and boasts over 40 different units in all. For example, no longer will dwarves be limited to bomb-tossing units; they now have fighters and other troops. You will also have heroic figures at your disposal in many of the missions. This provides your forces with some extra punch, but you'll need to be careful as the death of a hero will often end a mission in failure.
The campaign game features 25 missions which have varying goals (protect somebody or something, destroy something evil, etc.) and take place in a variety of locations such as forests, dungeons, and deserts. In true Myth tradition, they all feature plenty of real-time combat. Your troops are controlled via the mouse, and can be grouped and given formation orders in addition to the standard move and attack commands.
Once a player is finished with the campaign game, he/she can continue to play by taking advantage of the game's excellent multiplayer support. Play is free over the internet through GameSpy's servers, and separate areas are set-up for players of varying skill level. This is good for players just starting out, as the game does not provide a skirmish option to practice battles against the computer. There are fourteen different type of multiplayer games available, ranging from capture the flag to death matches.
Myth III features a fully 3D graphics engine and it looks quite good. The terrain is modeled in 3D and features hills, roads, ditches, waterways, and more, all convincingly portrayed. The engine does not just portray elevation, but models it as well. Archers on hilltops have greater range and water (and blood) flows downhill and pools in crevices. Carrying on the Myth tradition, Myth III's graphics are, well, pretty graphic. Battles feature plenty of bloodshed and the longer missions can leave the map strewn with corpses. The squeamish will be happy to note that the game does allow the player to tone down the bloodshed if need be.
One complaint regarding the graphics, though, is the camera. Camera control can be tricky to learn and will take a little time for most players to master. Also, it does not zoom out very far, limiting the field of view. In larger clashes this forces the player to do more scrolling than should be necessary to keep tabs on all parts of the battle.