Magic & Mayhem
Magic & Mayhem, the latest strategy game from Mythos, has a distinct retro feel to it. Hardly surprising when you look at the Gollop brothers' extensive back catalogue. Old-timers out there may well view M&M as a real-time reworking of Lords Of Chaos on the old Atari ST, itself an adaptation of Chaos - a Spectrum game where up to eight players controlled a wizard, casting spells and summoning beasts to defeat the other players. Chaos was perhaps one of the first true multiplayer games. "Chaos is, perhaps, my personal favourite of all the games I've done, says Julian Gollop, Lead Designer at Mythos. It was quick-playing and fun, especially with a few human opponents. Lords Of Chaos was more of an RPG and quite sophisticated for its time, but lacked the accessibility and fun factor of its predecessor.
With M&M, I wanted to get back to the essence of the original Chaos -basically a fast, chaotic strategy game with plenty of twists and turns. Another factor was our fondness for myths and folklore.
Some may see M&M as a fantasy C&C clone, but the game has the unmistakable Gollop feel to it: their graphics have never been state-of-the-art, but the gameplay has always towered over everything else. And this title looks likely to follow the same trend. You won't need a 3D accelerator, but if you've ever played X-COM you won't be worried about such things. Resource management and squad-level strategy is something the Gollops alone have excelled at.
Players familiar with real-time strategy games will find the interface immediately understandable, says Julian. C&C vastly widened the appeal of strategy games because it was so accessible. We've followed the same principle with M&M, but have made sure it's challenging enough for the most experienced players.
Kinds Of Magic
In M&M you control a young wizard, and your quest is to battle through three realms, collecting items that will help you to defeat the baron wizards who control each region. Alone you are weak, but your strength lies in your magical abilities, which range from basic fireballs and healing spells to summoning knights, zombies and dragons.
There are three types of magic: neutral, law and downright nasty. Before going into battle you have to decide which spells to take with you. After each Cmission' you get to do the same, as well as spending experience points on increasing your health and extending your spell-casting arsenal.
There are 63 spells in total, of which 22 are creature-summoning spells, says Julian. Some of the old favourites are there from Chaos - such as the Gooey Blob, which grows rapidly to engulf your enemies.
Many of the creatures have different abilities: the dragon can breath fire and can fly; the vampire can morph into a bat; the hellhound has a gaze which stuns; and so on. There are some spectacular spells such as Cjudgement', which can shatter any number of creatures within its range. Some of the more subtle spells are just as much fun. Illusion, for instance, enables you to make illusory copies of your own wizard which are effective decoys to distract your opponents. There are also Ctotems', which are like giant statues. Although they are static they have an effect over the surrounding area. A good example of a totem is Cpestilence', which infects nearby creatures with the plague, which can then spread.
Back To The Future
In keeping with the pre-Mythos games, M&M has been developed with multiplayer gaming in mind. The turn-based play that enabled a small army of friends to play on the one computer, pretending to look away as other players made their moves, has now gone for good. In some ways the X-COM series was a bit disappointing in that it didn't incorporate the multiplayer aspect that worked so well in Laser Squad. Now, though, it's a different story.
Deathmatches are a fundamentally important aspect of the game," says Julian. We are also supporting the new Westwood Online multiplayer lobby system so that it is very easy to play games over the Internet. The multiplayer options include a deathmatch mode with multiple lives and a set time limit - which again is ideal for Internet play. It is definitely | great fun as a multiplayer game, and doesn't get bogged down in some defensive stand-off like many other RTS games."
So what next for the Gollops? They can't go back to X-COM, having left MicroProse to do with the licence whatever they wish. Will they start off another comic book sci-fi series?
It's possible, and it has not been decided what our next game will be yet," says Julian. I love the grand strategy game idea, where you manage overall strategy but at the same time get involved in smaller tactical situations. This was the fundamental idea behind the original X-COM and could certainly be applied to other game designs.
Asked about what he thinks of how MicroProse have developed the X-COM series, it's obvious that had Mythos been involved, things could have turned out differently.
I haven't played X-COM Interceptor yet, but it sounds appealing. Although it involves first-person space combat, they have retained the strategy of base development, character progression and research. I'm not sure about X-COM Alliance,
but they seem to be doing something different from other first-person shooters. I'm surprised they didn't keep it as a strategy series, which is probably what most X-COM fans would want. I am certainly sad to leave it behind, because I think we created something quite original with the first X-COM game.
Originality is something we can certainly equate with Mythos games. It's true that practically every game they've released has been a remake of an earlier title (you try naming one of their games that doesn't have either a Marsec rifle or a Gooey Blob spell), but next to everything else that's been on the shelf, Mythos games have always been discemably... er, Mythos.
M&M is great fun to play, keeps you playing for a long time, and there's no other game like it, says Julian. It really has been designed as a game that we would like to play ourselves, and it is a game you can get into very quickly. The huge variety of spell combinations means that you can play the same mission completely differently; it does not descend into a mere puzzle-solving exercise where you have to do exactly the right thing at each stage.
Download Magic & Mayhem
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP
You are Cornelius Agrippa, an apprentice just out of school and ready to visit your favorite Uncle. Only trouble is, Uncle's lab is torn up and he is missing. What follows is your standard lost-relative search across a dangerous landscape. You get to pursue the clues and try to find where he has gone. (Yes, the storyline is exactly as tedious as it sounds.) Furthermore, finding clues is hardly a brain-strain, requiring merely coming anywhere near some characters in the levels you explore. You could play the entire game without paying the slightest attention to the actual plot.
The rest of the game consists of a standard resource gathering, semi-strategy type magical shoot-em out. You have mana, you park one of your critters on a power point (to restore mana), and you have the creatures you summoned. Power points are your resources, the critters are your armies. You explore each level, find the big bad guy, maybe pick up a useful item or two, and kill the bad guy. The only thing that separates this from standard beat-the-level on your quest type game is that Cornelius is a jerk. Found a helpful friend of your Uncle? Cool. Don't forget to steal his item and, oh yeah, kill him on your way across the landscape. There is no way to get around this as you cannot beat the level and move on without killing this guy who has been helpful to you. Ugh.
Gameplay, Controls, Interface
Game controls are pretty standard. No surprises here. The mouse is your friend, but don't bother looking for any real configuration options. Don't believe the little blurb at the start of the manual, though; you do need to read the manual and don't forget to look at the command keys. Particularly useful are the grouping commands to assign hotkeys to your troops and it's nice to know that you can save mid-level if you want to. These little features are not in the tutorial.
The documentation goes to some length to mention a hot-stuff AI that matches itself to your play style. For what it's worth, the levels aren't a cake walk, even on the easiest settings. But whether this is a function of the AI or merely of going up against foes that are more powerful and know the layout of the map better than you do, I don't know. There just isn't much occasion for the AI to show its stuff.
If possible, the graphics are even more disappointing than the storyline. Sprite based and a little grainy, it is sometimes difficult to differentiate your creatures from each other (brownies look very much like red caps, two very different units). Selecting one unit in a grouping is also an exercise in twitch-control, which is more than a minor inconvenience when your king creature needs a bit of healing mid-battle.
Likely due to the lousy graphics and weak path-finding, the system requirements are pretty minor: P133, 32 MB RAM, 8X CD-ROM and Win95.
The documentation looks like it was done at a discount with a special on blue ink. Otherwise, there is nothing outstanding about the it. I highly recommend taking a look at the control keys, though. There's functionality in there that otherwise risks being overlooked.
Not a blockbuster, by any means. If you don't mind playing a bit of a jerk through levels that are mostly the same, by all means, pick up this game. I wouldn't recommend it unless you have a bit of cash to burn and a lot of free time on your hands.
Those uptight and deeply reserved Brits of popular stereotype are about to upset your assumptions about their niceness with a new Action/strategy Blast-'em-up called, appropriately enough... Mayhem!
Set on Earth some time in the future, the game posits a world in which human existence is (once again...) under threat.A force of Biomechanical creatures, originally created by humans to do their most menial and degrading tasks, has rebelled, killing many people and forcing the bedraggled survivors into underground hideaways and orbital space platforms. One such platform, Satnet, hovers above the city in which the game is set, and from a control room within Satnet, you'll take on the role of a mercenary whose task it is to rid the city of its biomechanical oppressors and render the area once again fit for human habitation. Mayhem! is divided into five different areas of the city, including the Airport, the Industrial Zone and the Central Business District; each of these is in turn divided into five maps, with one mission per map. From your control room, you control a team of three humans, whom you must assemble and arm before sending them off in their armored vehicles.The play area is rendered iso-metrically, and is littered with buildings, enemies and puzzles, not to mention the 12 species of biomechs you'll have to overcome. You'll also encounter teleporters, sprites, secret walls, hidden tunnels and invisible sprites. Mayhem! also features two network-play options: a cooperative version in which three players each take charge of one of the team members, and a Deathmatch version, for up to 12 players, which takes place in one massive area four times the size of an original zone: the winner is the player who has used up the least lives within a particular timespan. So get going, because there's not much time left....