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SummaryOnly 7230896741 enemies between you and everlasting fame
The GoodAt the time when the design philosophy of role-playing games was being re-evaluated, with games such as Fallout and Baldur's Gate placing more emphasis on character interaction and meaningful in-game decisions at the expense of sheer complexity of world structure and difficulty, Might and Magic VI appeared as a staunch defender of the more conservative line of thought. It is a very "old-school" RPG in the sense that it focuses primarily on exploration of a vast world, party-building, dungeon crawling, and combat. It is a great successor of classic role-playing games of late 1980's, invigorated by the more fluent option of real-time combat and 3D graphics.
The real-time combat removes a lot of the tedium invariably present in earlier Might and Magic games, where the player was required to trudge even through battles with outmatched enemies. In this installment, you can elegantly avoid those pesky fireballs and find good spots to snipe unsuspecting enemies or even incinerate dragons from afar. The gameplay is therefore noticeably smoother and more realistic, sometimes almost turning into a shooter with its fast pace. Naturally, tougher enemies still require turn-based combat, and it's present in the game in all its ancient glory.
Might and Magic VI is the quintessence of RPG design that places character growth and party-building above everything else. Yes, there are "only" four characters to control, and they can only be human; but you won't notice this simplification, for which the game more than makes up with its excellent skill system. Basically, every ability, combat-related or otherwise (merchant, repair, disarm traps, etc.) can be learned and increased by investing skill points gained when leveling up. Nothing is learned automatically, and the development of the character is fully entrusted to the player. You can train a tank clad in plate armor and wielding a sword in each hand; a wizard specializing in one of the many school of magic, each with different spells; an expert in archery who also identifies items; and so on. This skill system is not as intricate as the one in Fallout, but it more than does the job, particularly because it applies to all four characters, and building a balanced party is the key to winning the game. The basic classes of knight, sorcerer, archer, etc., can be promoted twice each, by completing unique quests, gaining significant bonuses to their attributes.
Might and Magic VI is a huge game. It has a dozen or so towns, each full of stores, trainers, and NPCs that can be hired to bestow bonuses to your party; a vast overworld with different scenery - fields, mountains, snowy landscape, desert, etc.; a highly generous amount of dungeons, most of them by no means small and simple, full of enemies to defeat and treasure to hunt for; secrets, shortcuts, and a plethora of sub-quests, which can be ignored. It is possible to complete the game without visiting about half of its dungeons - and that's saying a lot, since the main quest is very long and will take time to complete even if you skip all the other stuff. In short, Might and Magic VI is what you call "value for your buck" - it's just brimming with things to do, bursting with content, it's like an all-you-can-eat buffet of role-playing.
In general, the dungeons are a true highlight of the game, offering so much exploration, dangers, and puzzles; they are uniquely rewarding to complete, especially when you're brave enough to tackle them before you're "supposed to". I finished the game at level 60 and I was told that it was very low; I know that I missed lots of quests and hadn't even scratched the surface of the game's magic system, having just one caster devoted to only one elemental school.
The 3D visuals of the game can't hold a candle to contemporary shooters, but they are certainly functional enough to create unique atmosphere, whether in a peaceful town appearing through a fog covering a sleepy valley, or an ominous dungeon with imposing claustrophobic passages. Eerie sound effects and beautiful orchestral music complement the picture. I also liked the silly photographs of real people representing your party and NPCs. Particularly the visual representation of status ailments is quite hilarious.
The BadYou've probably heard it before: Might and Magic VI is full of enemies. Now, think of the largest number of enemies you've encountered in an RPG, and multiply it by ten. There are simply so, so many enemies in this game. They are everywhere. There are just loads upon loads of them. Enemies... they are, so to say, ubiquitous in Might and Magic VI. This game is filled with very significant quantities of enemies of various sorts. Oh, and by the way - have I mentioned the sheer amount of enemies present in the game?
Yes, cutting your way through incredible numbers of enemies can get as tedious as reading the above paragraph. Luckily, they don't respawn (they do, but not right away - a cleared area or dungeon stay so for quite a while); and yet, I think this should have been one of those "less is more" cases.
Might and Magic VI is also a very long game. The world is huge, and the main quest will send you pretty much to every corner of it. You can skip a lot of quests, but the remaining bulk is still highly time-consuming. At some point, you might find yourself closing your eyes and seeing countless Devil Captains, Cuisinarts, Warlocks, Royal Leather Armors that give +10 to your statistics, piles of gold, the dreaded Egyptian-style interior of the megalomaniac Tomb of Varn dungeon, and trainers with goofy faces that laugh maliciously, telling you that you lack 234987 experience points to reach level 97.