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SummaryIt's bad... unless you are a huge fan of this series, do not buy this game.
The GoodIf you know this series, then you'll find much is reassuring familiar. While there are subtle differences, it's pretty much the same as before: 4 characters, 6 stats (say bye-bye to Personality), usual skills, a revised magic system using on 4 skills rather than 9, and so on.
The story-line is typical RPG fare as well. You control four novice characters who have been inexplicably asked to save the world as we know it, or in this case the region of Cheldian. It's a fairly linear story with enough sideline minor quests to make it feel that you're not being shepherded along the way.
And it's fairly compulsive playing too. Like many RPG games, you feel this urge to do just a little bit more, to get your level up, to see what's round the next corner, and so on.
The BadWhere to start....
Graphics. First let me read to you from the box: "All-new stunning 3D game engine creates a whole-new realistic gaming experience!" Now take a look at the screenshots on the box (or indeed on this website). The only thing that "stuns" me about these graphics is how bad they look. Seriously, have a look. This has got be a joke! Please? These would look poor 5 years ago. This is 2002....
To be honest the towns look pretty good, but that's about all. The people are funny (funny-bad that is). The landscapes look poor too - think Daggerfall and you're there. They look no better than the graphics in previous versions of this game, and in some ways they look worse.
Moving swiftly on, things can only get better, right? Wrong! In previous incarnations of this game you had the freedom to roam the lands in search of interesting things to kill. In M&M6 you had 15 map areas - each area would hold 3 or 4 dungeons to explore, loot, pillage, etc., plus a wide variety of local fauna to slice and dice. In M&M9 you can forget about roaming the lands. Most of the (badly drawn) landscape is inaccessible, forcing you to remain in the pre-determined paths and areas (check the screenshots). I have been playing this game for about 10 hours now, and I have already visited every one of the 7 cities and covered almost every blade of badly drawn grass. It took weeks to achieve the same in M&M6. As for monsters - they are few and far between, and are all fairly easy to kill. The good news is that they seem to be worth far more XP each, so you need to kill less.
I could go on... and I will. So many little annoyances... let's see what I can remember. Firstly, in towns. Day or night, the roaming population remains the same, wandering aimlessly around, standing in corners, walking in circles. The temples are always empty (even on Sundays) as are the town squares. The shop-keepers are always in, but will tell you they're closed if you try to buy/sell at night. If they're closed - why are they still there? Most of the doors won't open. You can knock on them, but no-one ever answers. Those doors you can go through are outlined in green. Yeah, that's realistic! Experts and masters can be found wandering the streets, and are a motley crew at best - old grannies will teach you how to master armour.
They've taken out some cool features too. For example, there's no way to see what spells have been cast on your band of jolly travelers. There seems to be less information available as well.
Most of the quests are pretty dumb too. They are a little too easy for the most part, offering no real challenge. There's one where you have to save this guy called Nutty Nurtigen from an insanity curse. a) it's too damn easy! and b) when you give him the potion, he just sits in his cell. "You're free!" you cry, but he just sits there. Like all the characters in this game, they have no idea what to do with themselves (in other words - crap AI).
I could on, but my fingers are getting tired!
The Bottom LineI paid $70 (plus tax) for this game. I feel robbed. I feel like standing outside Electronics Boutique with a board telling folk not to buy this game.
If someone told me it was written by a few 14 year olds for a school project, I'd say "B+ good effort!" The fact that it was produced by group of two dozen professional game developers surprises and sickens me.
Did they think we wouldn't notice? Did they think that we, the dedicated M&M players wouldn't care? Did they honestly believe they could release this crap? It doesn't matter what is good about this game (and there are some good points), the bad points are so many and so bad it's impossible to recover.
Unless you are a huge (and I mean really huge) fan of this series, then do not buy this game. You will regret it. And even if you are a really huge fan, I'd think twice. I only wish someone else had told me this before I spent my money.