User Rating: 9.8 | Heroes of Might and Magic II: The Succession Wars PC
This is my all-time favorite strategy game (Warcraft, eat your heart out! =P ). Words cannot express how much I like this game... but I'll try. ;) My entry into the series was with the old DOS Heroes 1. Being familiar with the RPG series. Heck, there was a demo on the Might and Magic Trilogy CD ("Trilogy" contained MM3, 4, and 5, just so you know). As fun as it was, there were quite a few drawbacks to the experience. Enter Heroes 2. This sequel is all that a sequel should be! It addressed practically every flaw or shortcoming the first game had, and added a beefy new set of stuff. On top of that, this game had the best production values in the series, aided in part by the awesome structure for the campaigns (and the cool cutscenes). On that note, lets discuss the visuals. IMO, this game looks far better than Warcraft 2 (which were released within the same year). The visuals somehow managed to balence an extremely fine line between "cartoony" and "awesome." To this day I don't quite understand how that worked. The adventure map was alive and vibrant. It's done so well it practically screams "explore me!" The town screens were a major leap from the original, both beautiful and functional. The battle graphics were perhaps the biggest leap. Not only did they expand the field (no more claustrophobic Heroes 1 battles), but it was noticable better looking and better animated. You'd almost want to leave it on the normal animation speed, if you weren't in such a rush to get to the meaty gameplay. Speaking of that, there's lots for you here in the fun department. They fixed a few of the issues with maps in this one. Not only are there different victory/loss conditions (haven't been a fan of timed maps, though), but the maps are bigger (or smaller) than those of the original. Not only that, some are given a better feel to them. While Heroes 1 seemed a bit repedative and similar, Heroes 2 makes each maps seem more unique. Sometimes you can get lost just exploring them even when you should be trying to finish of an enemy, or something. Also, the way the different factions are done is incredible. Not only are they each so unique, but they are well balenced and each have their own strengths and weaknesses (weaknesses usually being high cost). Another leap for this game is the sound. While the sound effects themselves are more functional than anything, the musical score is pure genius! It is in one of my top 10 favorite gaming soundtracks (I don't know where, since I don't rank soundtracks). They made good use of CD audio to bring an orchestrated soundtrack that adds tremendously to the mood of the game, and it changes with terrain and town screens. Truely fantastic! The game is beyond words, if the slightly sparadoc setup of my review is any indication. It's the only game in my collection that my brother has borrowed from me and STILL has. Speaking of that, I'll have to snatch it back from him one of these days... -_- To sum it up, there is one word for this game. "Addictive." Whether that's a good thing or a bad thing is up to you to decide.