Crusaders of Might and Magic
Tomb Raider fever has hit the games industry big-time. In the wake of Origin's desecration of the hallowed Ultima series with Ascension, 3D0 brings Crusaders Of Might And Magic \o the Lara-lookalike party, and while Crusaders does not suffer from the apparent lack of 'quality control' in Origin's title, it is equally bland and directionless.
A free-roaming RPG with massive environments may sound exciting to you (it sounded very exciting to us), but unfortunately Crusaders fails to fully explore the possibilities. Laborious and unnecessary travel is the order of the day in a game that lacks structure. The movement interface is clumsy with awkward camera angles disorienting the player at every turn, and the plot does not help matters (evil armies are misbehaving, it's up to you to blah, blah, blah). Even the spell system, which is normally a saving grace, is a bit lacklustre with higher spell levels bringing new versions of existing spells as opposed to brand new ones.
The end result is a game that fails to significantly impress on any level, while proving mildly playable for those who are desperately in need of an RPG fix. This is a shame, as some of the environments are nice, prompting Mark Hill to comment on the 'pleasant architecture' of the buildings, and the gameworld is very big with ample opportunity for exploration. It's just a shame that what there is to explore is not particularly exciting, and non-player characters are a laugh-a-minute for all the wrong reasons (conversational prowess is not their strong point). There will be those who will want to play the game regardless of all its flaws. The only advice I can give you is to play Planescape instead, which may not be 30 but blows this thing out of the RPG arena in no uncertain terms.
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3DO hopes to bring the world of Might and Magic to the PlayStation via the highly popular 3D action genre. Crusaders will emphasize its level environments on wide-open playing fields but also contain plenty of dungeons for those more comfortable in dark, dank places. Combat will be real-time melee coupled with spells and a full range of weapons. Crusaders of Might and Magic is set for release this winter.
The Might and Magic series has been around for what seems like ages and although some of the earlier installments made their way to consoles before, never has one been specifically tailored for a home system. Crusaders of Might and Magic takes the action to a format Tomb Raider fans can easily identify with, but don't let that fool you into thinking this will be about moving blocks and mindless action. Although there are dungeons with devious traps and barricades, expect a more traditional action-RPG feel to the game with vast amounts of weapons, spells, armor and magic to select from. Your character grows like it would in an RPG, with multiple level progression. Your character will also learn new spells, gain abilities and become stronger as he makes his way through the game.
The title's pedigree has given it a built-in depth in terms of specific monsters and spells as well as the whole Might and Magic world of legend. There will be five distinct worlds, each with different levels and specific quests. The action is non-linear so you can go back and forth between these levels as well as worlds. The variations in monsters won't just be superficial either, since they are all unique in one manner or another. This means they not only attack in separate ways, but they also have distinct weapons and magic. As in any good adventure game, there will be plenty of characters to interact with, all of whom will advance the story.
Developer New World Computing is trying to make sure all of this is backed up with some eye candy so expect plenty of snazzy lighting effects for the magic spells. They are also stressing how each world will have its own look and feel with realistic environment textures. We're seriously hoping they can pull out something better than Eidos Interactive's god-awful Deathtrap Dungeon.
After reaching legendary status on the PC, the Might and Magic universe is ready to cast its spell on the PlayStation. Unlike previous M&M games. Crusaders will have fewer role-playing elements, which means less conversing and interacting with people. Instead, there will be more 3D action as you battle monsters with fists and uncanny magic spells while exploring medieval sites. With these changes from the original series, will Crusaders be triumphant will tell.