There seems to be this petty little ridiculous fight among Heroes-players about which game in the series is the best. If you are a 1337 h4rdco3r player, then you "should" think that Heroes of Might and Magic III is the best, for some reason, and play all these weird home baked mods that make the game play like Heroes IV(?!). To me this seems strange since the game first of all, is really old by now, and not to mention that it included a lot of unnecessary features that the developers have gotten rid of in Heroes IV. Heroes IV also adds a bunch of new features that were sorely missing in the older games, which make the gameplay more streamlined and simply makes the game better. Heroes IV plays more or less exactly like the previous games, although there has been some slight changes - as mentioned most of these are for the better. Among the most noticeable are that your heroes now can participate in combat. To me this is a great idea and something I've been waiting for, since it makes absolutely no sense that the heroes just stand there looking stupid while their armies to the dirty work (like they have done in earlier games, including Heroes III). The sieges of the towns are now a bit more boring, since they've done away with the catapult and the turrets. This, however, is about the only change that is for the worse when comparing this game to Heroes III. A lot of the unnecessary spells have been taken out of the game, spells that you couldn't use, like, for example: Firewall and Quicksand to mention two. Now you can use just about every spell in the game and make an actual strategic difference in a battle, including the low level-spells! And finally, FINALLY! You now don't have to march your hero all the way back to a town to get more creatures (or hire a stupid hero that acts as a courier to get them for him). The creatures can now move on their own (although understandably they can't claim mines or towns for the kingdom), and you can create caravans from/to dwellings and towns. This is one of the best new implementations which makes the game easier and more rewarding to play. I can't stress enough how wonderful it is to finally get rid of the dumb upgrading of the armies which was nothing if not a huge pain in the behind. The graphics are nice-looking, better than Heroes III's graphics with its silly character design and animation, although not quite as cool as Heroes II's beautiful hand drawn pixelated visuals. There is an opening cinematic that sends chills down my spine even though I've seen it many times, it's fantastic and opens up for the game brilliantly. The sound is good, and so is the music. The problem with the music is that you grow sorely tired of it after a while. Thank God for Winamp and mp3's though. Difficulty-wise the game is just like the earlier games in the series, really hard. I played through the first four campaigns on the middle difficulty which was challenging on a good level. My Heroes IV-cd went missing for a number of years though, but I recently found it again so I completed the last two campaigns on easy difficulty since I found them too hard on normal. A problem with the campaigns is that you always get to fight the same sort of enemy throughout the missions. When you play the Death scenario for example, you'll always face other Death enemies. This means you'll never get to use that Death Call spell that only affects Life creatures etc. Which is a bit unimaginative. A very nice addition to the campaigns is the focus on a story with passages of text that you can choose to read or click away. I thought this was a bad idea first and clicked the text away, something I regret since they are really well-written and really immerses you into the game. All in all, Heroes IV is a great mix of many genres of games. A scenario takes ages to finish so there is hours upon hours of gameplay to be found here. I'm going to try to get ahold of the expansions now, and play them until Heroes V is released.
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