In the year 1999 the then-existing company New World Computing released version seven of their honored Might & Magic series, subtitled “For Blood and Honor”. Most Might & Magic [-(MM)-] fans were quite happy since VII is by many people marked as (at least one of) the best in the series. Sadly, even New World Computing disappeared in 2003 and Ubisoft the giant looking evil company bought all NWC rights. The Might & Magic VII Publisher, 3DO also closed their doors. What’s up with that? Is this some kind of bad disease, creating a brilliant game no-one cares about and thus nobody likes to play except hard-core fans? Let’s not try to blame it on EA again.
Anyway, welcome to a world of furious Power, angry Magic, dirty Politics and above all: a big pixel fest!
What’s up with this Interface?
Don’t forget to breathe while watching the videos or viewing the screenshots. Let’s be blunt: The game is ugly as hell. That’s a fact and there is no review in this world which will change it, not even this one. But all Might & Magic games in the long running series suffered from this bad point. The game itself is only playable at 640x480, like Planescape: Torment. Not that it matters much once the game grabs your throat and you are addicted. New World Computing finally tried in version Might and Magic IX to tighten up the graphics by using the No One Lives Forever [-(Lich-Tech)-] engine, but on the way they apparently forgot to adjust the controls to a First Person Roleplaying game instead of a shooter…
What has version VII to offer if you are still playing VI? A lot, really. All principles of past FPRPG games are based on two game series: Might & Magic and Wizardry, wich both started in the DOS era. Many spin-offs and rip-offs failed to deliver where M&M and Wiz games stood out. This alone is reason enough to support NWC (Too late! Mwhahaha! Sob) and buy the game in budget edition. You’ll be rewared with one of the best New World Computing games except a random Heroes of Might & Magic game.
Like many other RPG games, you’ve been given a lot of choices during the course ànd creation of the game. A fresh reminder: the Might & Magic games play like a turn-based First Person RPG, just like Wizardry. You can switch to turn-based mode any time by pressing the ENTER key. At the bottom of the game interface, you’ll see your four main character portraits, wich you’ll have to create all by yourself. Additional NPCs may join you but will only function as a modifier: for example hiring a travelling locksmith will grant you a whopping ‘5%’ bonus to your lock pick skills, at the cost of a set amount of gold or a base percentage on the gold you stumble upon during your numberous adventures.
There are four races available: Goblin (strongest and quick), Elf (weak but smart), human (jack of all trades, master of none) and dwarf (stronger and vital). Combine those bad guys with no less than nine classes and you have a perfect team to save the M&M world. There’s a mok, thief, paladin, ranger, sorcerer, knight, druid, cleric and archer waiting for you and you can combine each class with each race. Obviously the spell casting goblin will have trouble dealing out the maximum amount of damage, compared to an elf sorcerer.
Student and Master
Every character can specialize in his class. This means your newbie monk can kick quite a bit of butt as a Master monk later in the game, also enabling him to cast Body Magic (in a lesser degreen than a Cleric of course, but still). acquiring those titles will require you to finish a difficult task near the end of the game. A sorcerer for instance can choose to become an archmage or a lich - the light and dark sides of the sorcerer. Each side has special abilities: casting powerfull undead spells or big godly ones like Mass Heal, the choice is up to you.
Choices - if you like to consider and eventually make them, this game was written for you. Let me give you a nice example. At the beginning of the game on newbie island, you’ll get a quest which requires you to find a musical instrument, and only one girl on the island carries one. Nope, don’t bother looking in every chest because there is no other instrument available. The nice looking girl asks 500 gold for it (a criminal price at that point) so how will you get the lute? A sneaky backstab usually does the trick, but if you mess up the guards will cut you down merciless. Wich accidently happened in the video, hehe. Sorry about that.
In contrast to Baldur’s Gate and co. where you are out of luck if you find a shiny weapon you cannot use, or to Wizardry where your skills progress as you use the weapon type, you can “buy” weapon type skills in Might & Magic games. If you didn’t choose to pick the sword skill at the character creation window, you can still learn it from various NPCs like weapon merchants in the game (for a fair price of course). After you level up you can pump points into a skill and if these values are high enough you can upgrade the skill level. Only certain classes can get progressively better at a certain skill: Paladins only can Grandmaster the repair item skill. Every skill has four levels: basic, expert, master and grandmaster. An expert dagger character can equip two daggers at once and a grandmaster dagger thief adds additional bonus damage to his attacks. To get a skill upgrade you will have to find the appropriate teacher though. Trainers are sperad across the whole M&M VII universe, but luckily the game records the locations once you’ve visited them.
Let’s Play a card Game.
Imagine that. I’m strollig trough the biggest city in the game, searching for a tavern to fill up food supplies. Once inside, the waiter tells me a new card game has become quite popular in the taverns across the country. You can win a lof of money so I’m in. It’s called “Acromage”. He even bet I couldn’t win in all taverns, hah, bring it on old man! “Read Rules?” Nah, we’re hardcore! Damn, what the hell are all those cards and what do they do? Uh-oh, I somehow recognize all this - there was this one time I occasionally played Magic the Gathering…
You and the PC have both a tower of a set height and you’ll want to bring your enemies tower to zero or raise your own to a set maximum (varies per town). There are three types of cards: red ones (requires bricks), green ones (requires beasts), and blue ones (requires gems). Each round, your resources regenerate depending on your base material. By playing a card of a certain color, the action of the card gets executed and the resources are recalculated. For example, a “Troll Trainer” is a green card wich increases my tower with 3. I play the card, pay “5 Beast” and end my round. You’ll get the hang of it, because that little card game is soo addictive!
Acromage is also included in future Might & Magic games (at least in VIII)!
It’s easy to see Might & Magic VII has everything a Roleplaying loving gamer is looking for. “But why should we choose VII?” - because it has a perfect balance between skills, storyline, looks (Urgh!) and other points next to its predecessors and successors. Another word of advice: by all means, Avoid IX! Please don’t tell me I never warned you.
Bonus material: gameplay video
These have been dubbed in Dutch for maximum hilarity.
Verdict:/5 I really liked it!