Might and Magic: Heroes VI Review
The Heroes of Might and Magic series has been going on for a very long time. It started back in 1995 with the release of the first Heroes of Might and Magic, and its latest installment, the sixth game in the series was released in October of 2011.
The sixth installment has a slightly different title than its predecessors, while those were Heroes of Might and Magic I-V; this one is Might and Magic: Heroes VI, why they chose to change that? I haven't got a clue, probably because everybody referred to the other games just by saying 'Heroes' and tacking on a number afterwards, and they wanted to head them off with having Heroes VI in the title, I don't know.
So anyway, one cannot talk about Heroes VI without comparing it to the games that came before it, mainly because the series helped to create and shape this particular genre of TBS (turn-based strategy) games, and most other similar games are usually compared to the HOMM series.
So how does Might and Magic: Heroes VI compare to the other titles in the series? Rather well, it is exactly what a new title of a series should be, introducing new features while keeping in tune with the spirit and style of play of the predecessors.
Art and graphic style
This installment takes the graphics engine from Heroes V and spruces it up here and there; it's basically the same thing with minor changes, mostly related to smoother and more detailed models. This is the one thing that really didn't require changing, since the engine from Heroes V was a good solid upgrade from the previous versions. What I will say is that there is more complexity to it for sure, seeing how my computer takes a bit of time to load up all the layers and textures once I load a new game - my computer is a solid few years old so I'm playing the game on medium graphics settings.
While the look and feel of the game are important, what the series relies on is great, interesting gameplay, which focuses on resource gathering and management and tactical combat, but this installment adds in a bit of RPG nuance to the pot.
Ubisoft kept the entire gameplay from Heroes V and made it so much better, a true evolution of what was done in the previous game.
As mentioned earlier, one of the main focuses of the game is tactical combat, and this is where Heroes VI is much more complex and harder than its predecessor. The square grid is the same (fucking square grid, why do game developers think square grids are a good idea? I've harped on this for a bit a while back as well, but I think it's worth a more complex discussion in the future), the units are largely the same, although with different names, characteristics and character models. However, where the changes are apparent is in the various abilities of each unit, and how exactly they interact, both with other friendly units and with enemy units.
Heroes VI has many more interactions between unit abilities that you need to learn and be aware of, if you want to actually progress through the game - this is a good thing, it's a great thing. It used to be that usually if your stack was just that much bigger than your enemy's you'd normally win (we'll ignore hero involvement for this example), and while that is still basically true, how exactly you use that stack and its special abilities can mark a huge difference when it comes to the amount of units you lose by the end of combat.
This not only makes the game more interesting and the battles much more tactical in nature, but it also makes it a whole lot harder. I've been playing the campaign mode on Normal difficulty and one mission took me 9 h 51 m to successfully complete, and you can bet there were some game loadings sprinkled during that mission. Despite this the game doesn't seem tedious, the threat of the enemy AI is almost constantly palpable, which is something else that the other games didn't manage to do very well.
Talking about the combat wouldn't be complete without talking about the role that the heroes have in it. Besides the already traditional artifact collecting that the other games have instilled in the series, Heroes VI introduces a slight RPG nuance to the heroes, allowing you to directly influence whether or not your particular hero should go the path of Might or the path of Magic, and in each of those there are several branches of abilities or spells to invest in, whether offensive, defensive or utilitarian. Yet another RPGesque feature of the heroes is the Tears and Blood alignment of the hero, you get reputation in either one when making decisions - it's nothing major, but there are certain artifacts that you will only be able to use if you have a certain alignment, and dedicating yourself to one of the two will yield certain bonuses.
There would be many more things to talk about, like the fact that you'll need about 800 megs worth of patches for the game to be balanced, or that the writing is atrocious, but I don't want to go overboard with this review; this is a really good game, a worthy addition to the Heroes of Might and Magic series and also totally worth your time, even if it will take up a shit-ton of it.