E3 2001: First Impression: Myth III
We take a look at GodGames' fully 3D follow-up to the real-time tactical Myth games at its first public showing.
Way before Oni or Halo, Myth: The Fallen Lords marked Bungie Software's first success in PC games. The fast-paced real-time tactics, intriguing storyline, and robust multiplayer helped create a significant online following for the game and its sequel. The third game in the series is with a new developer, but from what we saw at the game's first public demonstration at E3, it brings a significant graphical update without changing the series' core appeal.
By far the most noticeable change introduced by Myth III: The Wolf Age is a new fully 3D graphics engine. While the previous games had 2D sprite-based units, Myth III uses detailed 3D units with smooth skeletal animation. All the most popular units from the series will make a return--berserks wielding claymores, bomb-throwing dwarves, and mighty trow giants--and there will also be some new faces among the game's 42 total units. All the units take advantage of high-detail 512x512 textures, and while the human-sized monsters are about 350 to 450 polygons each, the giant-sized trow is made up of around 1,000, including its articulated fingers. While we didn't have a chance to see the trow in action, it is said to be more impressive than in previous incarnations, now standing three times taller than the other units.
Myth III's new engine adds some nice graphical touches. All units in the game have real-time shadows that are surprisingly detailed considering that there can be dozens of units on the screen at once. The characteristic gore is still there, and blood pools will spread down hills. The terrain itself is very crisp-looking, even when the camera is zoomed in. Not only are the terrain textures all in 32-bit color now, but the engine blends six to seven different texture layers together depending on how close the camera is. The trees and plants in the environment are animated and flexible, blowing in the game's variable wind. The addition of dynamic lighting is also apparent. You can now see the glow from the dwarf's Molotov cocktails as they arc through the air on their deadly trajectory. In one level, all your units carry torches, which of course go out on the ground when your units fall in battle, so the environment gets darker and more foreboding as the mission progresses.
Myth III's single-player campaign comprises 25 missions. As a prequel that takes place 1,000 years before the original Myth, it explores much of the series' back story. Many of the fallen lords that rose to fight you in those games are now by your side. You'll often have Connacht to command, the great hero who leads the fight against the trow and myrkridia and is known to most in his Myth: The Fallen Lords incarnation as Balor. The good counterparts to Soulblighter, Shiver, and the Deceiver are also in the game, and there's one mission in which you'll get to control all four heroes. There's said to be quite a bit of variety in the missions' goals, requiring everything from protection and stealth to an assault on a castle. The developer, Mumbo Jumbo, is using an updated version of Myth II's map tool, Loathing, to create the maps and has created a new mission-creation tool called Vengeance that will ship with the game. This should be an important part of the game's success, as there has been a surprising variety of user-created Myth II mods.
Mumbo Jumbo says the game is about 50 percent complete and is scheduled to be finished this October. Like its predecessors, Myth III has been designed for both the PC and Mac and was written in OpenGL for this reason. A few key components of the game still must be settled. The sound in the Myth games has been exceptional, but Myth III won't reuse any of the existing samples, so it's not yet clear how the game will expand in this direction. Myth III will have a new online matchmaking service that will rank players in a way similar to Myth's Bungie.net, but this is still just in the planning stages. There weren't any multiplayer maps on hand to see, but Mumbo Jumbo plans to add a few new game types and will add a persistent feature to the online service that will let veteran units carry over from one game to the next, even if players change games. We should hear much more about the game's multiplayer later this year.
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