MacDirectory Magazine

Spring-Summer 2008 (#37)

MacDirectory magazine is the premiere creative lifestyle magazine for Apple enthusiasts featuring interviews, in-depth tech reviews, Apple news, insights, latest Apple patents, apps, market analysis, entertainment and more.

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MacDirectory 99 REVIEW | GA,MES Heroes of Might and Magic is a venerable medieval combat series that stretches back many years. A particular favorite of mine, I was thrilled to find the latest version on the Mac, and jumped at the chance to take it for a spin. Not only did I find it extremely easy to jump in and start a game with little setup, but I discovered that the developers of this noteworthy title have not rested idly on their laurels, and have instead delivered a top-notch experience on par with the excitement of its previous incarnations. A little back story: When the king of your embattled nation is kidnapped by the demonic forces it opposes, it's up to you – controlling the new-to-combat queen – to build your army, increase your powers, and venture forth to save him and bring victory to your country. The game does a good job of starting you off slowly, introducing the navigation and combat system in digestible stages. The environment is fully 3D for the first time in the franchise's history, which provides a welcome graphical update. The map can be zoomed-in, leveled, and rotated to assist you in locating the shortest route to take to get to a particular area, or to reveal concealed resources and goodies. The time system plays out as a continuum of days and weeks. A day is the length of time your hero has to travel, at the end of which the turn is over. After seven days, a new week begins, which signals the growth of creatures around the countryside; this is how you grow your army. Certain weeks also provide bonuses and penalties to game play. Engaging a map creature in battle switches the display to a closer view. It's here that the graphics really shine, with wonderfully expressive creature animation and detailed character models. The combat is turn-based, which means that your individual creatures' speeds are taken into account to determine initiative in battle. Your units possess various special abilities – some for attack, some for defense – and are stackable, meaning that they gain in strength the more units of that particular type are in play. The way your units face their opponents is an important factor to consider; an attack from the rear will do more damage than a frontal approach. Some enemy attacks also affect multiple unit types, depending on their arrangement with regard to each other. Finally, your hero also plays a role. It can attack the enemy directly, stand in for one unit's defense, or buff a unit's stats. The battle isn't over until your last unit falls, so your hero is never directly threatened, acting more as a general over your troops than as an actual combatant who is able to be killed off. The other important aspect of game play is in building your hero's castle. Once discovered on the map, you may take over a fortress and begin building structures. These structures provide both units and hero boosts. For example, building the Blacksmith will provide your combat party a ballista, which gets its own free attack. Building the Stables increases your hero's movement for one week. Upgrading your citadel allows for greater amounts of gold to accrue each week. Each structure requires an investment of resources, both initially, and ongoing. This is where countryside travel enters the picture; resource nodes are scattered throughout the environment. Visiting one deeds it to your kingdom, but an enemy player may usurp it, stealing its resource from you. As challenging and deep as ever, Heroes of Might and Magic V is a worthwhile successor to the throne. HEROES OF MIGHT AND MAGIC V BY UBISOFT/FREEVERSE WORDS BY KEONI CHAVEZ Product Heroes of Might and Magic 5 Made by Freeverse Price $49.95 boxed/downloadable Pros Updated 3D graphics; New Active Battle System; New Duel mode Cons Intel Mac only; No windowed display option Rating HHHHH

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