Might & Magic Heroes is the strategy-role-playing hybrid series that has graced the PC for decades, but many fans feel it’s gone downhill since the third instalment. The sixth in the deathless fantasy exploration and army-building franchise is an attempt to return to it’s former glory days.
Let’s find out what’s HOT and NOT in this role playing strategy classic.
At its core, the Heroes VI plays much like its predecessors, and that’s a very good thing. The game still revolves around guiding your hero and their forces through massive world maps filled with shiny resources to harvest, powerful loot to equip, bands of monsters to slay, and enemy factions to stomp into the dirt. Capturing cities and expanding your infrastructure lets you recruit a menagerie of crazy-looking units to stock your armies with. Encounters on the battlefield play out like chess matches, as stacks of creatures manoeuvre around, trade blows, and fire off special abilities to whittle down their opponent’s forces until nothing is left but a pile of crumpled, bloody corpses. The fact none of this has really changed much over the past 15 years is a testament to the strength of the original formula – it still has a powerful draw that will undoubtedly entice the hardcore strategy fan for days of marathon sessions.
Graphics and Audio
The updated graphics and sweeping orchestral score do an excellent job of capturing the character and feel of diverse regions, be they the smouldering lava flows and sulphur pits of the demon faction or the verdant forests of the sanctuary elves. Character and creature models flash an incredible amount of detail whilst combat animations are charming and evocative, especially when the camera zooms all the way down to highlight a critical hit in cinematic fashion. The voice acting is serviceable if not spectacular, and some of the in-engine cutscenes look a bit stilted because they rely on faction creatures as extras, but on the whole the presentation is superb. The only substantive criticism we can make against the game’s presentation is the lack of aesthetic improvements to your capital as you build secondary structures, which was a charming feature of its predecessor.
Disappointingly, combat later on in the game really comes down to simple numbers. No matter the skill of the commander, an overwhelming amount of troops will ultimately win the day. Very rarely will you encounter a situation where user based strategy can turn the tide of battle. Tactics in combat may lose value in the long run, but every map is still somewhat satisfying. It takes a lot of skill and resource management to make sure you’re able to build up the massive armies it takes to win.
Heroes VI tells the story of a troubled royal family. Through the numerous campaigns you get to find out how each of the Duke’s many children interact with the main plot, taking you through the game’s various factions in the process. It’s advised to play each campaign because they introduce you to the mechanics of every army, but the story itself is ultimately forgettable. Even the new Tears and Blood morality system, where you make choices that give you various abilities depending on what you do, fails to make it all that interesting.
Ubisoft’s attachment of the game to both its anti-piracy measures and its online store create constant frustration: You can play offline, but you can’t load even single-player saves if you’ve played online. Your character’s weapons only improve when you’re playing online also, whatever name you’ve chosen for your store profile is the one that shows up in-game, and it can’t be changed easily. The entire title interface has an ugly overlay of social-networking buttons and profile-experience bars, whether you want them there or not.
The game’s ridiculous online components give a poor first impression, the introduction to the storyline is a second strike, as it’s a rush of names and relationships, acting like a sequel to a narrative that doesn’t exist. Yet it’s worth making the effort to work past those problems as this is still a Heroes game, one of the great strategy series in video gaming history. The graphics and effects are appropriately impressive for 2011, the game offers a huge amount of single-player content, with dense campaigns for each of its five factions, as well as the usual multiplayer options. Its bells and whistles can be off-putting, but otherwise, Might & Magic: Heroes VI demonstrates why it’s one of the longest-running series in strategy gaming.
[Editor’s Note: Might & Magic: Heroes VI was reviewed on the PC. The game was provided to us by the publisher for review purposes.]