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SummaryNo more bad "campaign ends, hero gone" feelings...
The GoodLike the main HOMM 4 game, this expansion offers beautiful graphics, many animations, fascinating music and a very good storyline.
When playing a campaign you will actually live it. There is your hero, and you will stuff him or her up, get all skills possible in a map, gain level while exploring and fighting enemies. This is the "only-one-more-turn"-scenario and you may end up sitting the entire night to see what's next. And this isn't just speaking so, it is really addictive.
Usually however, the bad news is that you "loose" your hero when the campaign ends. Campaign 1 tells the story of hero A, while campaign 2 tells the story of hero B and so on. So you train hero A all the way to the end of the campaign and suddenly, you beat the end boss and that's it! The super trained, well experienced hero A continues his life and you now have the fresh hero B at campaign 2 and do the same - ultimately for nothing.
So what's now the good of it - as this is the good section - in this game? It has one feature that makes it the best HOMM so far: the ultimate campaign against Hexis.
At campaign 1 you train hero A up to the best possible. After you successfully completed that campaign, hero A and a special artifact (which you had to found in the campaign) is available at campaign 6. You continue playing campaign 2-5 and finally, for three maps - the last three maps of the game - all heroes plus the special artifacts work together to beat the final adversary!
The BadWell, besides that it consumed so much time, including the time I needed to sleep :) actually only one major thing.
The Artificial Dumbness vs. Design flaws
At the world map it is hard to tell if the AI is really stupid or just the designers. The problem is that the designers implemented many one-way portals/gates. And what's the matter? Well, think like this: you have city A, your final target is city D, between is city B and C. You fight your way from A to B, from B to C, and finally from C to D. There is no direct connection between A and D - at least not for you. But the computer has. So if you take your entire army to assault city C, the computer might sneak into the homeland of your territory via a one-way teleporter which starts directly next to city D and ends directly next to city A.
Two possible solutions: put good defenders in city A (and split your army, weakening the assault group) and make your fights much harder - the computer may still send a super-army (think of a bunch of black dragons) to capture city A. The other way would be to have all power at one team and run back if city A gets captured. The just captured city C - directly at the front lines - may be re-captured while you travel back.
And that all just because some smart ass may have thought something like the AI is not good enough, we have to design some cheats for it.
At the battlefield, there is no doubt that the AI is dumb. You have your super hero (which may crush the enemies single handed), yet the primary targets are some weak units of your army instead of yourself. This allows you to send your weak units in as cannon fodder and your hero to annihilate the enemy (think of Armageddon on a fire-immune wizard).
The Bottom LineBesides the AI problems - which is not really a problem with this game, but with the entire series - this is one of the best HOMM games available, and personally, I prefer it even over HOMM 5, as it is not just about graphics but about story and how it is experienced.
If you don't know HOMM, grab Heroes of Might and Magic IV Complete (contains the main game, this and another expansion) from the bargain bin and give it a try. You won't regret it.