Heroes of Might and Magic III: The Restoration of Erathia
This game defines "turn-based fantasy RPG strategy"
Jun 29, 2004
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Heroes of Might & Magic III is a dangerous game. It belongs to that seemingly innocuous category of turn-based strategy games. Just one more turn... Slow, ponderous gameplay without action that should bore you to death. Of course chess is such a game and it has endured for centuries. And chess has no dragons, knights (well not ones in shining armour anyway), no magic and heroes. It hasn't any beautiful cities to build and expansive maps to explore. No music such as the truly epic score of this game ranging from Celtic pieces to gothic themes inspired by Berlioz. It represents a huge improvement to an already excellent game in almost all respects and it is dangerously addictive. Just one more turn... The different castle types vary aesthetically as much as in tactical terms and the campaigns are challenging and varied. Heroes have more skills and their specializations make them interesting and unique. Battles are a treat for any aspiring tactician and the choice of skills has a definite impact on the effectiveness of any particular strategic approach. Hot-seat is an added bonus, and it was greatly appreciated by many players. And it only adds to the game's huge addiction factor. Just one more turn...
The music, although easily within the top 20 game soundtracks of all time is not quite as good as the stunning operatic pieces of the previous game. Some people disliked the shift from the story book, slightly comical 2D graphical look of HOMM 2 to the more "serious" pseudo-3D creatures of this game. Some creatures still look funny, such as the cute imps, but overall the creatures appear more somber than before. Some may find the resource system cumbersome and the magic system is a little imbalanced in higher spell levels. The same goes for Might versus Magic. Any hero without at least some magic is going to suffer in battle. Finally, hero specializations are interesting, but make some heroes potentially more powerful than others.
The Bottom Line
This game has dominated my life until the sequel appeared and I returned to it yet again. It's not that the sequel was not a worthy successor. It just didn'r have the same lasting appeal of its predecessor. I've brought many first-time gamers into the fold with this game and not one of them has forgotten it, not even those who mocked the game before they tried it. A Warning to the Wise: Do NOT try playing Heroes of Might and Magic III for the first time if you do not have lots of time to spare. LOTS of time.
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