Terrible interface, dull game-play, thin audio, and listless campaign. This is no Master of Magic, not even close.

User Rating: 3 | Elemental: War of Magic PC
The buzz I was getting about this game was that it was to be the spiritual successor to Master of Magic. However, this flat, characterless offering falls wide, and low, of that mark.

The interface is one of the main reasons I find this to be a game that seems to present itself as lacking the attention to detail that makes an average game good and a good game great. It is clunky, unintuitive, and frustrating to interact with as a whole. This seems to be a fatal flaw in a lot of games that could be good or even great. Designers seem to figure that how one interacts with their game isn't as crucial as it really is. If I play a game I want to immerse myself in it, not lose that because I am fighting a poor interface.

The graphics are fairly poor, not just because of the general unattractiveness of the overall art design but also due to the rather dull color palette employed and the flat, haphazardness of objects and people. The style used just doesn't have any life or distinctiveness to it.

The audio, another crucial element to a game that benefits immersion tremendously that is often ignored by designers, is a barely there afterthought. It never ceases to amaze me how often this important element of a game is given such a poor treatment and this game is no exception. Thin, cliche, and two dimensional. I just eventually cut the game sound and listened to my own music because the lack of interesting audio was making me fall asleep...literally.

The game itself has a lot of interesting ideas and the theme of magic, empire building, and strategy is certainly something I personally find attractive but there is nothing new or particularly interesting going on here. It is rather standard fare for this genre. Been there, done that, had a better time.

So the specter of Master of Magic reaches out from the past and finds yet another game...wanting. It is just crazy to me that a 26 year old game still manages to confound modern day game designers into even emulating its successful design. Oh well, back to hoping for someone to successfully take up this particular torch.