In an era where graphics and sound development are pushed to the limit, New World Computing is still working on what counts the most, good gameplay. Although it may not be the most technically advanced game of the year, the company's latest spin-off, Heroes of Might and Magic, is an extremely enjoyable strategy game with a fantasy overtone that RPG fans will also appreciate.
Not much for storyline, Heroes invites you to jump straight into the action by choosing one of four different player types, Knight, Barbarian, Sorceress, or Warlock, each with their own specific powers and followers. Depending on the scenario, which can range from short games played out on a small map to extremely expansive adventures, you will have a goal that you must achieve to win the game. You start in your castle with at least one hero and will immediately need to build units appropriate to your starting character's background and the structures currently available to you. Building new edifices will enable you to recruit more powerful unit types, ranging from the relatively innocuous (goblins, sprites, and peasants) to the ultra-powerful (paladins, dragons, and phoenix). As you might expect, neither construction nor recruiting is free, and so you must take your army abroad in search of treasure, resources, and conquest.
Once on the main map, you'll immediate notice several small icons representing various encounters in your immediate area. As you explore these mini-adventures, you'll battle with wild monsters, discover magic spells, gain possession of valuable mercury and sulfur mines, and perhaps even find a few allies. For each valuable resource center you gain control of, from sawmills to gold mines, you'll gain a weekly allowance of that particular commodity. Your enemies will also want to gain control of these centers, so it's important to keep your troops on the ready at all times.
Game combat is very simple, and with a few exceptions, generally breaks down into who has the most and more powerful troops. In addition to the hand-to-hand and missile combat of the ground troops, you may utilize spell-casting. The game features over 25 different spells to choose from, ranging from exploration spells that help you find new resources to combat spells that will send fiery death raining down upon your opponents.
Heroes of Might and Magic isn't spectacular, but it sure is fun. The Multiplayer mode includes options for up to 4 players taking turns on one machine, or two player head-to-head competitions by network or modem connection. If you like turn-based strategy games, or you're an RPG fan looking for something a little different, you'll find that title is a worthy addition to your game library.