Game Review - Heroes of Might and Magic V

17066
Genre: Turn-based strategy
Format: DVD
Developer: Ubisoft
Publisher: Freeverse
Minimum System Requirements: Intel-based Mac, Mac OS X v10.4.8, 512MB RAM, 2GB hard disk space, Internet connection for multiplayer
Review Computer: 2.16GHz Intel Core Duo 20" iMac, 2GB RAM, 256MB ATI Radeon graphics card
Network Feature: Internet
Processor Compatibility: Intel only
Price: $49.95
ESRB Rating: T (blood, fantasy violence, mild language, suggestive themes)
Availability: Now
Demo: None
Official Website: www.mightandmagic.com

Heroes of Might and Magic is one of the longest running turn-based strategy series, and one of the most anticipated for the Macintosh platform. When Freeverse announced they were going to publish it for the Mac, fans everywhere breathed a sigh of relief that we'd be able to play our favorite game on our favorite platform. Was waiting for the port worth it? Is Heroes of Might and Magic V worth your gaming dollars?

Heroes of Might and Magic V (HoMMV) has three main areas: exploring the world map with your heroes, building towns with resources discovered while exploring to gain access to more powerful troops and magic spells, and battling enemy heroes or random foes so you can level up your heroes and make them stronger by picking skills they learn and outfitting them with powerful artifacts. In the single-player campaigns, you have missions such as capturing all enemy towns or defeating a hero or delivering troops or getting a certain amount of resources or making it to a destination without being captured. Everything is turn-based (even the battles), so you can take as long as you want to explore or figure out the best battle tactic without having to feel rushed.

Heroes of Might and Magic V

I've been playing this series for a long time, and while the towns are given new names and there are new stories to tell and new skills for heroes to learn and new items for them to use, the essential gameplay has remained the same for all five sequels and their expansions. So really, why is HoMMV fun to play and would a person who's never played a turn-based strategy game enjoy it?

Of course, fun is subjective, and I can't say for certain whether HoMMV is everyone's cup of tea. The reason I enjoy it so much is because of the amount of choices it presents. Do I take my hero down this path or that? Do I risk losing my troops by fighting that stack of water elementals guarding a powerful artifact or wait and potentially lose it to the enemy? I need to upgrade my buildings to get access to more powerful troops, but I am short on wood. Do I trade my excess sulfur for the wood or hope I find a lumber mill soon? Do I pick the Light magic skill for my knight hero or pick the Offense skill instead? Should I use my Imperial Griffins to Battle Dive the enemy archers or use my own Marksman to do that instead and use the Imperial Griffins on something else? Should I construct the building in my town which will allow me to upgrade my Footmen to Squires or should I construct the building that will let me hire Cavaliers?

Heroes of Might and Magic V

There are similar decisions to be made in battles, starting with where you place your troops on the battlefield. If your hero has the tactics skill, then you have more room. Even if you don't, you'll have to use the battlefield to your advantage. If you place your archers behind other troops, then you'll be able to shoot your enemy but they won't be able to shoot you. If you place a troop that can't fly behind a pile of rocks, then they will need room to maneuver to get to the enemy but will be protected from the enemy's ground troops, as well. Some of your troops can use spells just as your heroes can in addition to attacking the enemy directly, so you have to decide when it's right to use them. Fortunately, you can see how many of the enemy will die before you order any of your troops to attack so you can pick the best course of action before you make it.

Heroes of Might and Magic V

By making the best decisions and having a bit of luck on your side, you'll emerge victorious and defeat all of your enemies with a hero who will make the enemies tremble. HoMMV is a combination adventure/battle/role playing/resource management game with fantastic graphics and songs. That is why I've played this series ever since HoMMIII, and why HoMMV doesn't dampen my enthusiasm for the series.

Unfortunately, not all is rosy with HoMMV. The biggest issue at the moment is the horrible crashing problem that plagues many players, some of whom have had their saved files corrupted. One fix is to turn off the auto-save feature, but even after doing that I still experienced random crashing and total computer freezes. Freeverse just received the latest files from Ubisoft and is working on releasing the latest patch (v1.5) which will hopefully alleviate these problems so HoMMV is playable and the gameplay is more balanced. Until the patch is released, play HoMMV with caution.

Heroes of Might and Magic V

The other problem concerns the expansions which may or may not ever be released for the Macintosh. The same problem occurred with HoMMIV, in which there were two expansions that were never ported. Since most of the custom maps released for HoMMIV require the expansions, that meant we couldn't play them, either. There is one expansion released for HoMMV so far (Hammers of Fate) and another (Tribes of the East) coming out soon. Whether they'll be ported to the Macintosh is anyone's guess, but, based on the past, I am not optimistic they will be.

Heroes of Might and Magic V is a fun game and a worthy addition to the series. For those who don't usually play turn-based strategy games, I can think of no better game to get them started on the genre, and those who do probably already have their copy by now. Until the v1.5 patch is released it's going to be a bit frustrating considering the stability issues, so it might be best to wait to get your copy until they're fixed. Once they are fixed, HoMMV will definitely be a worthy addition to anyone's gaming library.

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