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SummaryStill addictive decades after
The GoodNo matter how much I play this game, and no matter how maps and continents don't change and everything's the same, it's just so plain addictive and likable it's probably the only game I ever regretted for being this short. Sometimes, I just love seeing a game so great in design, so addictive in gameplay, so cute in its storyline, yet above all simple, simple, and simple!
You start easily with low money, small army that can hardly be called an army, and a bounty to collect. There are 25 different unit type in total and yet it's more than enough. You have five units per each territory, for example you can recruit Militia, Archers, Pikemen, Cavalry, and Knights at the king's castle. You can recruit Sprites, Elves, Druids, Ogres, and Dragons (or was it Gnomes, not sure anymore) in the forests, and so on. Many times it will happen you can recruit more than available, on the other hand, when you recruit too much, you'll soon find yourself in a position of not being able to give them the necessary salary and you'll lose part of your army.
But it's all fun as you cannot die, when you do, you just start anew, but with everything as it was. For example, the final contract will be too powerful to defeat in single attack as it has like 150 dragons which you cannot afford to have yourself. So couple of attempts might do the trick. All in all, it's easily possible to outwit your opponents and get all the contracts before you retrieve the king's sceptre.
The BadReally, this game is simple and hence doesn't give much of the no-good stuff, since those few it does provide with are all the good. No HOMM game was ever this addictive, or maybe I'm just getting old, I dunno.
The Bottom LineSimple -- you won't have trouble figuring what to do, how to do, where to do, or when to do, from exploration to battle interface, the game is almost like guiding you in its simplicity.
Addictive -- you fight, you win, and you level up and can recruit even more powerful armies, with advantage to discover new continents where you can recruit armies that can obliterate those on earlier maps, and as the time is running out, you simply can't get enough of the fighting, and soon there will be no army you cannot defeat, that's where the real fun starts.
Fun -- there is no just simple fighting to it, there are strategies, there are tricks, and there are stuff to take into consideration, for example, if you have ghosts in your army, the more they kill the more they multiply and if they go above the number you can recruit they will turn against you. Some units can shoot from afar, some can fly, and some can move quickly. You can outwit your opponents by using your boat and drive them away from the treasure they're protecting and then circle around them to steal it right in front of their noses.
This is game that has a special meaning for me, sort of like Panzer General, people just seem to miss classics like this while they take pleasure in vast numbers of aftershock clones which, no doubt, may be good, but just don't have what it takes to be a classic. I still can't believe how I can love something so simple like this when I take great pleasure in games with cutting-edge technology in graphics and effects, but it holds a great meaning for me, this game, that is.