This is on of the greatest example on how a company can take a winning idea from a prerunner and totally ruin it.
I absolutely love homm3 – the prerunner – and both it expansions. So the first day that homm4 came out in the stores, I was there and bought me a copy. Happy as ever, I went home and started to install it. Right in the beginning, while still in the install menu, I could se that I was in for a disappointment. And as it turned out it was one of the biggest DISAPPOINTMENTS in my gaming history. This is really a waste of time.
The graphics is weak from installation menu to battlefield. The world view is still ok from time to time with an adventuring feel and good movement indication. But then comes the battles and you realise that 3DO must have run out of money, because the lack of detail is astonishing. Try assaulting a castle and you'll se what I mean. The unit pictures are also a huge step backwards from homm3.
It's ok. I got tired of the music though.
This is the worst score I've ever given to a game that I actually tried to play for a longer period of time. How can a game company make such a good game in homm3 and then totally flop on the sequel? Well, the MISTAKE is this: making the retaliation comes simultaneous with the attack! In homm3 you could plan your movement in battles so your troops would attack first. You would use spells to alter the movement of the troops on the battlefield to accomplish this. But now, when your troops retaliate instantly, you don't have to care about these tactical issues. The homm4 battles tend to become frenzied with all units just running into battle and ending up in a bloody pile. There's no way to win a fight without loosing almost as much units that you killed. And there goes all the tactical awesomeness that was in the prerunner. This ruins the whole game for me, but I wonder how long I could stand the graphics even if this issue wouldn't disturb me.
Well, the world that was present in homm3 is no more, so all units that made it from the old world to the new homm4 world are now distributed differently throughout the different races. It's "a heartbreak" for me – an old fortress player. However the story is all about the different clans and races trying to gain control in this new world. The story would get a better score if it would come with some cool movies or at least nice picture – this isn't the case.
The idea to make units able to roam free on the map is cool. I also like the way reinforcements are sent after. To make the hero physically present in the battles are a so-and-so idea I would say, but it's new and fresh. But then comes the idea of the simultaneous retaliations and suddenly all other ideas seem totally worthless to me.
3DO tried and failed miserably. After this game and the expansions - the company is no more. Let this fact be a witness for you that I'm not alone in my thoughts.