Might & Magic VI
New World Computing
description:In this return to the Might and Magic series, you wander a large 3D rendered map with a team of four adventurers, solving quests and purging dungeons. From a first person perspective you watch your arrows fly into the shuddering corpses of animated enemies. Cast a range of spells before your eyes and watch a hail of meteors descend and crush your foes, as they respond with a volley of insects that will fly at you and block your vision. Fans of the series will recognize the slightly quirky sense of humour and the emphasis on skills. Lots of treasure and many side-quests ensure this game will be on your hard drive for some time, if you enjoy straightforward simple combat heavy fantasy role playing.
reviewRole playing games can take over your life. Manageable intricacies in a contained world, a tantalizing web of interlocking secrets for you to uncover and understand - it sure beats real world socializing and relationships. Might and Magic VI is the most straightforward and arguably low-rent of these addictive types of games. Compared to some of the other fantasy role playing games of it's ilk, Might & Magic VI looks happy, fun, simpler. Here, bright colours and a super-simplified first person interface leaves little subtlety to mull over as you click at foe after foe lining the halls of innumerable dungeons.
Might and Magic has traditionally distinguished itself from other RPGs with its 3D perspective; in Might and Magic VI, this has taken on a contemporary feel. Movement is seamless, not square to square; buildings and landscapes are rendered. These graphics are definitely an improvement over the previous Might and Magic games - the terrain is more exciting to wander, running over hills and down into valleys adds literally a third dimension to travelling. Later in the game you'll acquire the ability to fly - it's fun to take wing over the usual 3d terrain, and after your twenty-third time across Free Haven you'll be quite glad to move swiftly. I did find myself running most of the time, across town back to the dungeon I'd left to augment my skills; running requires holding down the shift key and that aggravates my sore wrists. Granted the amount of time I spent moving around the game map where I'd already been, I wish I could have used caps lock to stay speeding.
Might and Magic VI is a big world. Fortunately, it's a small install. This is the kind of game that you put on your hard drive, play a lot for a while, forget about and return to later. Fortunately the program takes good, though not totally thorough, notes for you: which potions you should mix to what effect; where the potable fountains are. At times, proceeding in the game means consulting a game-generated to-do list of quests before you and taking off after them - it's a bit business-like, but it's impossible to forget what you should do next. These in-game notetaking systems and the simple interface facilitate swift re-entry when you return for a little more fervent role playing action.
Role playing action - that pretty much nails it. The first person perspective combined with the point and click kill the Magyar interface makes the game a bit like Quake except here you're weilding a sword and wearing breeches. Of course there's some depth behind the killing onscreen - layers of learning and schools of spellcasting articulate enough permutations of death dealing that the game never becomes entirely too repetitive, though you do repeat the same gestures to clear out dungeon after dungeon.
Might & Magic VI is in part propelled forward by its unique system of skills. You earn experience each time you kill enough monsters or rescue enough damsels (always women or children to rescue, men are never captured). Earn enough experience and you gain levels. Gain levels and you accumulate skill points. Those skill points are yours to allot, augmenting your characters specific abilities in the game: weapons, spellcasting, social skills. After a certain amount of training, you search the land for experts to reach the next level of player character potential. After you become an expert, you search the land for masters. Combine that with the dozen or so cities, and the experts and masters scattered throughout, there's always some skill upgrade one of your four characters needs that you might find if you stay up just a little bit later to wander about.
There are random NPCs strolling about town that you can talk to. While this is a dramatic improvement over a world devoid of all people except shopkeepers and bandits, it's still not completely natural. You turn a corner in Silver Cove and one of the NPC townspeople ("Frank - Merchant" or "Brenda - Ditch Digger" for example) is staring unblinking at you. Their proximity alarm has been triggered by your presence and they are waiting for you to engage them on one to three randomly selected topics: goblins, guilds or good eating. While you have a reputation that affects your conversation, there's little room for relationships. Many of these NPCs can join your party - each with their own particular little face, price and benefits. Some augment your skills, some augment your gold/experience intake, and most take a percentage of the top. It reveals Might & Magic VI's almost financial approach to role play - a strategic arrangement where people are measured in terms of their resources.
In Might & Magic VI there are people you talk to and there are people you kill, and nary the two meet. Most times in my life there has been violence, there has been words accompanying it. People who have attacked me and beaten me up usually have had useful advice to offer me about my hygine or manner. This can be constructive, part of my growth and development, and it serves to describe my foe and our particular disagreement. In Might & Magic VI, creatures attack you because they're evil and you're the hero. They don't even curse your name or say anything along the lines of "Hello my name is Inigo Montaya, you killed my father, prepare to die" - they mostly snarl or slaver, moan or bellow or cackle; perhaps they don't speak our language.
Might & Magic VI is intent on providing tangible rewards; in computer role playing games this is often referred to as "Monty Haul." You win a steady stream of exciting weapons and armour. There's none of the AD&D creeping up level by level - after two or three dozen hours of Might & Magic your characters should be at the 30th level, while finishing the game requires at least 50th level, over one million experience points.
Not to say that Might & Magic VI doesn't have a sense of humour - the series has always distinguished itself with occasional extreme weirdo badguys. In Might & Magic VI there were women in bondage gear "witches" who attacked you. Here there are "Harpy Hags" whose grey breasts are falling out of their ratty halter tops. The enemy religious fanatics belong to the Church of Baa. Some of these characters come off as stereotypes - naked African cannibals; spell selling rug sitting crosslegged Indian gurus who mutter about the elements in the typified accent. It's why you might call this game low rent - it's a populated place, but in the end it all conforms pleasantly with your western fantasy RPG expectations - there's very little to surprise you or challenge your assumptions.
Might & Magic is ultimately very human however. The time that Rage of Mages spent detailing 3D graphics lumps on a ogre's probiscus, Might & Magic VI spent on funny character portraits instead. Your four onscreen adventurers wink and blink and gag and laugh, stare off in the other direction, stick out their tongues at you if you're idle and generally act as a human face would if it were staring out of a computer screen. These little touches make the game quite a bit more playable - the hours you've spent alone in front of your computer have been shared with a few other individuals, of sorts. They even mutter funny comments - "yes!" when they kill someone, "I don't think we belong here" in a dark dungeon, or "that was rude" when they are dissed. Other characters speak as well; generally the sound clips suit and spice up the game: burly ship captains snarl "pull the plank and hoist the sail" when you come aboard, store owners will say "cheapskate" under their breath if you leave their store without buying anything.
The soundtrack is generally classical and mostly background but occasionally it stands out as annoying or incongruous (as would any soundtrack after 40 hours). There's something strange about contemplative lite flute orchestral music playing in the background as you're notching up arrow after arrow to litter a scenic mountainrange with some ugly Harpy Hag corpses. In the cities the music sounds like Holly Hobby goes to market, playing in the arena sounds like some Dead Can Dance renaissance percussion, and facing a murmuring gaggle of Baa Acolytes in the Temple of Baa the soundtrack is a dead ringer for the Godfather theme.
Might & Magic VI offers straightfoward play in conventional though immersive fantasy role playing atmosphere. In some games you might feel you are venturing into artfully crafted interactive literature articulating our struggle to understand ourselves and make moral choices. Might & Magic VI is instead a loosely-strung-together series of quests surrounding an alien-demon invasion of a pleasant planet "Enroth" which was once ruled by a benevolent king who has now disappeared and in his place a teeming multitude of rabid new acolytes work to plunge the land into alien-demon worshipping chaos, etc. The kingdom is in turmoil, overrun with monsters, and in the midst of this madness, a hero (actually a team of four heroes) emerges... to restore "the mandate of heaven" !
If you crave subtlety of storytelling this ain't your game. Might & Magic VI is your game if you crave a steady immersive fix for your role playing addiction. Giving this game to a RPG junkie is promising they will suffer at their job and alienate their partner and friends.
adviceIf you find yourself being whupped too soon in combat, try turn-based mode. Rushing around the maze in real time combat madness is fun, but you have a far better chance of actually killing that huge spider if you have a chance to cast some spells and heal your party during combat. Combat in real-time mode goes too fast for strategy, but it sure is exciting!
As soon as you can make your way through the fanatical followers of Baa, go to Castle Ironfist and train all of your party in the bow skill and arm them all with long range weapons (yes even mages and clerics can fling arrows). It turns the game into a first person shooter! Hit return to enter turn-based mode, stand back, and click on the baddies to lob arrows at them from afar. If you have the chance, stand on the other side of a stream from your foes and shoot them with your arrows. If there is a group and only some have ranged weapons, take the archers or mages out first and then slaughter the rest. Unless, that is, you're particularly attached to a fair fight! Conversely, if you are facing a posse of vicious fire archers who are steadily chomping your hit points, try bum rushing them - get up close and whack away until they're dead. this is especially effective once you have the heroism and bless spells at your disposal.
Try using corners to your advantage in dungeons - if you approach a large room by creeping around a corner you can kill one of them at a time as they approach you.
If you defeat a massive posse or a particularly bad guy, don't move: save your game immediately. Often more foes await you just beyond your location.
published in part on WildWeb Games