Might and Magic II: Gates to Another World
Critic Reviews add missing review
Average score: 72% (based on 31 ratings)
Average score: 3.7 out of 5 (based on 80 ratings with 5 reviews)
I haven't played the seminal first game of the legendary series, mostly because I was told that this second installment is like a more polished, upgraded version of it. Also, I have to admit that I can't stand the lack of an automap feature in old first-person games with complex dungeons, and Might and Magic II is famous, among other things, for being one of the first games with an automap feature.
Might and Magic II is a challenging old-school role-playing game that requires a lot of time, patience, concentration, and conscious effort on the player's part. You begin the game in a fairly maze-like city, controlling a (in-game generated or self-created) party of six weaklings that don't stand a chance even against some of the enemies wandering the town itself. It is your job to train, outfit, and customize this party in such a way that it will be able to defeat fearsome creatures and advance towards the game's final dungeon.
The beauty of the game is that you are completely free to ignore that goal and do whatever you want. You cannot get stuck working on one task, because there are myriads of things to do at any given moment. Unlike Wizardry games, which consisted of one huge dungeon each, and Bard's Tale games, which didn't really have cohesive wilderness, Might and Magic II boasts a vast interconnected world which you can explore at your own pace. And it provides you with the tools to do so in a smooth, elegant fashion - making finding and acquiring those tools a pleasant, rewarding, and fascinating experience. Curious about that seemingly sweet spot between two mountains? Teach one of your characters the Mountaineering skill and climb up there. Can't pass those nasty magical traps in a dungeon on your way towards some coveted gems? Have your Sorcerer learn the Levitate spell, and float right over them. Desperate after losing the same fixed battle with a powerful enemy blocking the road to an important item? Buy a Teleport Orb and materialize right behind him, or find a fountain that raises your attributes for just one fight, or try your luck hiding.
The game is full of such things, and it keeps you busy - not just with fighting and leveling up, but with actual planning and taking care of your character. You'll have to study the game world, get used to it, and figure out where to go, which quest to tackle, which item to hunt for, how to improve your characters. It doesn't hold your hand and expects you, the player, to make your own choices and decisions. Depending on your knowledge of the game, it can appear frustratingly difficult or pleasantly fulfilling - and chances are that you'll experience both those sensations.
There is a huge amount of monsters to fight in the game, yet it nearly does away with what was, in my opinion, a real mood-killer in early RPGs - random enemy encounters. If you set your party attitude to the most discreet, you'll barely encounter random enemies. The foes that do pop up seemingly out of nowhere are actually confined to fixed squares - which means that most of them can be avoided by jumping, teleporting, etherealizing, etc., if you are well familiar with the location's layout and are planning a safe trip. This increases the flexibility of the game, emphasizing knowledge and tactics over brute force and mindless key-mashing. The cool part is that you can also do the complete opposite and actually seek out enemies. The game thus becomes as combat-heavy or as combat-light as you want it to be - but the latter requires you to know it really well and to work hard for it.
One thing I love about Might and Magic II is how unforgiving it seems in the beginning, and how much more benevolent it becomes if you take your time and study it and subsequently outsmart it, instead of getting angry and trying to take it by force. The game walks the tightrope between frustration and reward, and does so masterfully. It is full of tricks you need to discover in order to take advantage of it. There are easy, yet well-hidden sub-quests that net you large chunks of experience or money, hard-to-discover areas providing huge boosts to the party, and enemies way above your level that can nevertheless be vanquished if you know what to do. The fight against the Cuisinarts, which could instantly propel a weak party ten or more levels up, is one of the better-known such occasions. I have to confess that, due to serious time constraints, I've used a guide extensively to get my bearings in the game and finish it quicker than it intended me to, but I almost regret it now and wish I had spent more time with it.
The game has a memorable structure with a distinctly non-obvious, but nevertheless clearly outlined main quest, which includes such interesting episodes as re-writing history by traveling through time, and having characters of each class compete in unique challenges without the help of the rest of the party. Most locations in the game are not required to visit in order to complete the main quest, and you are free to decide whether you want to pursue it strictly or take your time to explore the game's many dungeons and amass experience points, gold, and powerful equipment.
Might and Magic II has an attractive personality. There is something energetic and even flamboyant in its mixture of generic medieval fantasy, time travel, and science fiction. There are jesters telling you silly jokes in castles, hirelings with ridiculous names, and characters using catchphrases taken from Star Trek. And who can forget a giant singing karaoke into his mic-shaped club, listening to which raises your Endurance?
If you've heard about the battles against up to 250 opponents, then I don't need to tell you that it is insane. If you haven't, then it is my duty to warn you: there are battles against up to 250 opponents in this game. And yes, it is insane. Holding down Ctrl + A wipes out the enemies much quicker than you'd think, but the catch is that you do need to have a party that is strong enough to wipe them out with default attacks. This is an unnecessary and frustrating feature. Luckily, most such battles can be avoided.
Might and Magic II is very hard if you don't know what you're doing - and you won't, unless you explore the game painstakingly and study it, or use a walkthrough. It is possible to build a powerful party and adventure to your heart's content, but beware: particularly the beginning is highly challenging and frustrating, unless you figure out a couple of tricks to get early gold and experience. Also, even with the maps, the dungeons are very tricky to explore, and most of the truly important locations with the best items are well-hidden.
The text-only interface is tiresome. You'll be micromanaging your party a lot, and it will always take time to execute simple commands. For example, in order to transfer an item from one character to another, you need to press four keys: T, 4 for "item", the number of the desired character, and the letter under which the item appears in your inventory. Casting spells requires a similar procedure.
The Bottom Line
Despite the understandable frustrations associated with older games, it cannot be denied that Might and Magic II is a genuine role-playing giant. Its huge world, chock-full of secrets and things to discover in any order you like, is the game's main star, alongside its addictive, effective, and extensive character-building. So C32 to D1, C55 7 squares to the west, and have fun C93-ing 77 air elementals to get that Photon Blade +23!
DOS · by Unicorn Lynx (180476) · 2018
This game has one of the most non-linear storylines around -- great for an RPG. You are free to wander the world, cities, dungeons, caves, and elemental planes... solving minor quests as you gradually learn more about the main plot. Character development is stunning, magic is handled well, there are scores of interesting items and weapons, and there are a host of NPC hirelings who you can have journey with your party.
Characters have an assortment of skills available. Some assist just the character, while others benefit the entire party. Auto-mapping is a skill that can be learned; if you like this feature, have a character learn the Cartography skill. If you don't, then don't. Normally I'm not a huge fan, but it's worth having maps in this game. Trust me.
I also like that your characters can gain levels to their hearts' content. The maximum level is 255, created only by the programming limitations of the day. You can still train and add hit points over level 255, but 255 is the maximum that can be displayed.
A few things. First, the sounds leave much to be desired (particularly the tune that plays after you kill a monster in combat -- it quickly gets old). Thankfully, they can be turned off.
Another gripe I have is that you can only save your game at an Inn in one of the cities. While not unusual for games of the time, it makes it frustrating to make one wrong move deep in a dungeon, and have to then restore your game and begin the entire dungeon again.
And finally, the puzzle at the end is needlessly confusing. I won't say too much about it, but I solved it and I could not figure out exactly how to type in my solution. Add to this a real-time "countdown", and I was quite despondent (especially since the final puzzle requires you to hack 'n slash your way through a particularly nasty dungeon to get to it).
The Bottom Line
Great overall. The interface will take a bit of getting used to, but I guarantee it will be worthwhile. There are enough cities, castles, dungeons, quests, and items to keep you playing for a long time.
DOS · by Mirrorshades2k (274) · 2001
...then you'll love this.
After Book One, you entered the Gates to Another World. It was not long until you arrived at the other side. Remember in the good old days when getting the sequel to your favorite RPG was only a year away because they used the same game engine to continue the series? Well that's what they did here. Its the same game with a few touch ups.
Now you can have special skills and they added a couple of new classes. The spell list has been revised and expanded. You can now add two NPC characters to your party. Graphics are updated and best of all this game now has an automap.
Hardcore RPGers will appreciate the fact that the automap is an option, it is actually a skill which you can choose to learn or not. So its up to you if you want build mountains of graph paper or not. I happen to like it because like the first game this one is HUGE! Dozens of outdoor and indoor locations. The original let you visit the astral plane. Part II has four elemental planes to explore. With a non-linear plot, many quests to complete and dozens of places to explore you will definatly get your money's worth.
While it was nice not having to wait years for a sequel, using the old engine means the same problems are here. The big one being only able to save in the town inns. Resetting of the dungeons is annoying. The real time ending of the game is unexpected. You have been warned.
Graphics are improved but at times it looks like they are trying a bit too hard to be pretty. Because of the limitations of EGA graphics the IBM version uses blue as the skin tone! This is not the case when I played it orginally on the Commodore 64.
The new skills and character classes don't really add much to the game (or detract from it).
The Bottom Line
This was the last game in the series that I would say is truly "old school". VGA graphics and a mouse interface were to follow. This is an excellent RPG that every old schooler should play.
DOS · by woods01 (129) · 2001
There are five towns, a couple of castles with dungeons that might reach as far as two floors down, a wide expense of wilderness to explore and hundreds of monsters to fight.
The game came with a over 100-page manual which contained maps of the dungeons, which was useful considering how complex and maze-like they were. The towns were as RPG towns are like - there would be a place for buying and selling, inns for resting, temples for curing, training grounds for leveling up and town portals.
There are lots of quests to do and puzzles to solve. Players will also enjoy many in-game jokes and parodies of real life popular culture.
The story became a little strange and off-key in the end. It was unexpected and was just too weird as a sword-and-sorcery world suddenly turns sci-fi.
Character graphics are not always present, sometimes a text just pops up on the screen and someone's there talking to you. Yet, there's just no graphic there to show that there is.
Background music gets repetitive at times, and at times vanishes so that one is walking around in eerie silence. Town environments are hopelessly boring, consisting of grey brick walls all around. It's like you are walking in a maze, not in a town.
The Bottom Line
Old school roleplaying game attempting a 3-D environment. You still fight 2-D monsters that randomly pop up while you are exploring dungeons or the wilderness. It's huge and will take the player many hours to complete. There are five towns, a couple of castles with dungeons that might reach as far as two floors down, a wide expense of wilderness to explore and hundreds of monsters to fight.
Genesis · by BeaconBlue (15) · 2006
It has some of the cool "Might And Magic" atmosphere.
The game mostly consists of lots and lots of combat and running around trying to find items needed for quests.
The last few quests are extremely tedious and time-consuming, and require the player to fight extremely hard monsters. But just wait until the final dungeon: it's monotonous beyond belief. Really. I couldn't complete it without cheating and editing the stats of my characters. 'I don't see how anyone can finish it without extra help.
And the ending was the worst of all. After spending 2-3 hours fighting an endless stream of monsters in the final dungeon, the reward left me feeling like I wasted my time playing the game.
I heard Might And Magic III has a better finale, and I want to see it, but right now I'm turned off by Might And Magic.
The Bottom Line
Only play it if you want to finish all the Might And Magic games.
DOS · by Edward Alie (2) · 2006
Contributors to this Entry
Critic reviews added by Pseudo_Intellectual, Alsy, Игги Друге, Terok Nor, Patrick Bregger, S Olafsson, RhYnoECfnW, Tim Janssen, Jo ST, Narushima, Alex Fest, Riemann80, chirinea, Alaka, Omnosto, Mr Almond, Mobygamesisreanimated.