Might and Magic IX is the sort of game that can't please either longtime fans or series newcomers looking to get a role-playing fix.
Might and Magic IX is like a bubblegum pop song from a group that's been on the charts too long. It has all of the same ingredients that made the earlier releases so popular, but the excitement is gone, and what once felt new and energetic is now old and tired. Even though New World Computing built this game from the ground up with the use of Monolith's respected LithTech engine, the developer also tried to re-create the past rather than truly revitalize the Might and Magic line. This divided focus between old and new leaves us with a square-peg-in-a-round-hole sort of game that can't please either longtime fans or series newcomers looking to get a role-playing fix. Combine that with shoddy quality in everything from the monster models to the paper doll interface and a dreadfully slow start, and you've got an end product unworthy of its prestigious name.
The early stages seem more like a chore than a game, due in part to a stripped-down character-creation process that's simple but too much so. You have only four playable races (human, elf, dwarf, and half-orc) with which to fill the four party slots, along with a handful of face and voice types and a paltry two character class options to choose from. In the beginning, you pick a path of might or magic, becoming either a fighter or an initiate. Other classes are held back until much later, when your characters have progressed high enough in level to accept promotion quests. A fighter can become a crusader and then perhaps a ranger or paladin, while an initiate can advance to the position of scholar and later maybe a mage or lich. There are a total of 12 class options, though choice is restricted based on the path of advancement that you select. Characters can be further customized with skills, though once again, there are few options at the start of the game. Just two skills can be selected from a small pool of options, while two more are predetermined by your choice of class. The same goes for spells. Choice explodes from the virtually nonexistent only long after the beginning of the game. Aside from changing race or class, there is no way to alter the default numbers for the six basic character attributes--might, magic, endurance, accuracy, speed, and luck.
Another major contributor to this dull opening is that you begin stranded in the land of Chedian without a clue. There is no back story, no driving force behind the beginning of the game. After an opening cinematic that comes off like Sesame Street doing a "best of times, worst of times" shtick and tells you precisely nothing about the game, you are dropped on what's presumably your island home. You speak to an old man whom your entire party calls "Grandpa" for no stated reason, read some scrolls about the game interface, hop on a boat for lands unknown, get shipwrecked, and meet up with a troll woman named Yrsa who anoints you the saviors of the world after you kill a few dragonflies. Seriously. Making matters even worse, you don't care about anything that Yrsa tells you because unless you've read the manual, you have no background information about the land and peoples you're about to spend 100 hours of game time saving. The whole introduction is a jumbled mess of names and events and dates that does more to confuse you than provide you with a good reason to continue playing.
Expect to feel bewildered for some time after. Aspects of the game design seem to have been put in place for the sole purpose of disorienting the player. Although the main plot soon comes into focus--you have to unite the six warring clans of Chedian so that they may face the threat of Tamur Leng and his feared Beldonian Hordes--everything that surrounds it stays fuzzy. It shouldn't be this way, because the game consists of traveling to the capital cities of each clan and carrying out rudimentary quests that involve little more than killing a lot of monsters and picking up the sacks of gold that they leave behind (and everything leaves behind a sack in this game--even bats). Each town features citizens who require help finding lost objects, obtaining items that they desperately need, and so on, along with chieftains called jarls who assign slightly more interesting objectives, such as clearing out monster infestations, delivering letters to fellow jarls, and slaying particular foes. Role Playing 101, right? Not exactly. While New World never strays from this old-school format, the company has complicated matters by providing little information when quests are assigned. You often spend more time searching for the place you've been asked to visit than actually doing the job. The assignee says what he or she needs, mentions a locale that you've typically never heard of, and then leaves you on your own to explore.
It doesn't get any easier after you stumble upon a quest location. Even though the mouse-driven interface (left-click for a melee strike, right-click for a ranged weapon or spell) makes it easy to slash through the hordes of monsters found everywhere, it is often difficult to figure out where you are when the dust settles after combat. Most quest locations have a unique look, but that unique appearance is marred by the designers' usage of the same architecture over and over again within each location. Along with mirror-image corridors that transform many buildings and dungeons into mazes, whole rooms are repeated right down to the furnishings and complement of monsters. You often find yourself wondering if you are going in circles or have activated some kind of teleportation trap.
- Player Reviews: 12
- Game Universe:
- Might and Magic: Gates to Another World (GEN, NES),
- Might and Magic III: Isles of Terra (PC, SCD, SNES, AMI),
- Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes (DS, X360, PS3, PC, IP, AND),
- Might & Magic Heroes VI (PC),
- Might and Magic IX (PC),
- Might and Magic: Day of the Destroyer (PS2),
- Might and Magic VIII: Day of the Destroyer (PC),
- Might and Magic VII: For Blood and Honor (PC),
- Might and Magic: Millennium Edition (PC),
- Might and Magic VI: The Mandate of Heaven (PC)
- Number of Players: