Might and Magic Impressions

We take a first look at this upcoming mobile role-playing game from Gameloft.

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Gameloft's first action RPG will bear the Might and Magic name, and be set in its world, Erathia. In the game, you play as Ewan, a young soldier summoned to free a king from demonic forces, with which the humanoid races of Erathia are at war. Fortunately, Ewan has been blessed with the power to control the elements, abilities that are useful for more than just combat. In addition to Ewan, you'll be able to play as two other characters--a shapeshifting vampire and an arrow-toting elf. The three will have to work in conjunction to complete the game's light puzzle-solving elements, as well as to combat the growing demonic menace, eventually confronting its leader in his magmatic lair. The near-beta version we saw was very playable, with only some bugs to fix and storylines to finalize before the game's September-October release.

Gameloft's Might and Magic has obviously been influenced by a variety of similar games, not the least of which would be other Might and Magic titles. However, it is clear that Golden Sun has been in the GBAs of several Gameloft employees, as Ewan's use of powers for puzzle-solving on the dungeon maps is definitely reminiscent of Camelot's excellent game. The Legend of Zelda is an obvious reference for any action RPG, and some of Might and Magic's puzzles and gameplay have undoubtedly been inspired by Nintendo's genre-defining franchise. For example, Ewan can use his fire magic to ignite torches, just like Link. Also, Might and Magic has taken a cue from other Nintendo games as well, like the later Zelda games and Super Metroid; Ewan can use his grappling hook to swing him onto otherwise-inaccessible ledges.

Might and Magic has quite a few unique features, though, and could never be accused of being a "Zelda-clone." Perhaps the game's most unusual and intriguing integrant is its vampire character, who can take on three supernatural forms, as needed. If a wrought-iron door is blocking your path, you can ask the vampire to transmogrify into fog, so that he might slip past the grated entryway. Immobile in fog form, however, the vampire will need Ewan to use his wind power to blow the bloodsucking brume about. The vampire can also change into a wolf (for Ewan to ride), or the obligatory bat, who can fly to areas inaccessible by foot.

Although the sound seems a bit sparse in the version we saw, Might and Magic's visuals are looking extremely impressive. The game is viewed from the overhead perspective typical of 16-bit RPGs. Its environments are varied, and enhanced by weather effects, such as falling snow. Furthermore, certain aspects of the environment are destructible, such as trees. Each of Ewan's elemental powers is accompanied by the appropriate visual flourish--a spike of ice, a ball of fire. Once again, Gameloft has managed to squeeze better performance out of handsets than most of its competitors.

When Might and Magic is released, it will purportedly provide average players with three or four hours of gameplay. However, Gameloft was quick to stress that three or four hours of gameplay found in Might and Magic could be equivalent to a much longer experience in a typical game. We'll have to wait and see if this claim holds true.

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