Heroes of Might & Magic V Review

The path is clear. The enemy’s town lies in the distance. Wait! A path appears to the left. It leads to an underground tunnel. Which way should I go? A pit devil appears to the right and yells, “The Wait Is Over.” I raise my sword to surgically remove his medulla oblongata. The doorbell rings and wakes me from my slumber. The common carrier has arrived and in his hand, Might and Magic V. I cast a Slow spell on him and then realize that someone beat me to it.

If you are a veteran HOMM player or someone new to the series, I think that there is a lot to like about this game and worth considering it. There have been many changes since Ubisoft purchased the Might and Magic rights from 3DO. First and foremost, it is a visually stunning game. You really feel that you are part of a three-dimensional world. The detail, the colors, the animation and the entire world are light years ahead of anything that we have been used to in the previous Heroes series.

For those of you new to the series, HOMM V is a turn-based, role playing game that is filled with, well, might and magic. You are better off to be proficient at both. You begin the game with a hero and a few monsters for support. You try and find a city, beat up on the monsters there, and claim it for your own. You spend the next several turns building up your city. As you build more buildings you gain the ability to create new and more powerful monsters. Your hero learns spells which come in handy as you explore the land. City development is very important and requires your attention early on. By the way, the manual is not very informative when it comes to skills explanations and the details of building up your town. These issues were covered much better in previous editions. However, after a game or two, you will probably get the hang of it. It is not rocket science…and who reads the manual anyway?  (One important warning…Ubisoft has issued a patch update. Without it there are many bugs and problems, so make sure you download it before beginning your quest. It is here: www.ubi.com/US/Downloads/Info.aspx?dlId=1628)

At the same time, it is important to explore the land, gathering resources, fighting monsters, and gaining experience. With experience comes new skills and abilities. There are lots of neutral monsters ready to put up a fight, but at least in the first campaign, most of the battles are fairly easily won. There have been many complaints about this on the web, but it gave me the opportunity to enjoy the scenery and animation when monsters kill each other. It is very well done.

If you want a real challenge, in the last part of the first scenario, try going through both garrisons at the end. So you want a challenge? Good luck! Seriously, even though I was going to win most of the battles, some of them required a little bit of planning and ingenuity…just not as much as previous incarnations of the game.

Before I leave the battle scenes, there have been many upgrades here, too. You have the ability to see exactly how far a monster moves to attack, which is helpful in planning your strategy. Also, at the bottom of the screen you are shown the order of which monster is the next to attack. Even your hero gets to attack, no matter where they are and how far away the opposing monster is. This makes no sense at all when attacking a town when the monsters are behind walls, but maybe the heroes all have special powers not found in the…manual!?! The one drawback is that sometimes it is difficult to tell which monsters are yours and which are your opponent's. Sometimes some of the monsters are even hidden by each other. Ah, such are the casualties of war.