Myth: The Fallen Lords
|a game by||Bungie Software|
|Editor Rating:||8/10, based on 3 reviews|
|User Rating:||7.0/10 - 2 votes|
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While store shelves will soon be littered with Warcraft and Command & Conquer clones (it they're not already), one upcoming title is sure to stand out. Myth: The Fallen Lords puts you in command of medieval troops doing battle against armies of the undead. You can fly around the battlefield from above and view any section of it you want--even behind enemy lines. The true 3D terrain is combined with accurate physics so lobbed grenades will roll down hills-- as will severed body parts! Free Internet play and support for 3Dfx graphics cards only sweeten the deal. If Myth can deliver on its promises, real-time strategy games will soon have a new standard.
Download Myth: The Fallen Lords
Two things have traditionally kept PC gamers riveted to their keyboards: Game-play and gore. Bungie utilizes both to the fullest in its tactical masterpiece, Myth: The Fallen Lords. Myth blows away any current real-time strategy game available today. It simply does everything right.
A River of Blood Runs Through It
Myth's battles have been compared endlessly to the dramatic clash6s in Braveheart, and there's no better analogy. As you struggle against hordes ot undead sent by the Fallen Lords to conquer the continent, the soil literally runs red with the blood of battle. Weapons, corpses, and severed limbs litter the 3D landscape, while explosions alter the terrain. Diverse weather, advanced A.I., addictive gameplay, physics model combine to create a complete package. Owners of 3Dfx cards will find Myth a grisly but gorgeous demo for their new toy. Plus, every battle can be saved and replayed at varying speeds--from any angle--or through an automatic camera.
The crisp, authentic sound effects, from the thunderous explosions and clear, expressive speech to the subtle sounds of launched arrows and surrounding wildlife, envelop you in the medieval atmosphere. Armed with a mouse and a few single-key commands, most real-time gamers will be able to jump right in and take control. Only the rotating camera requires some learning, but its flexibility cannot be matched. With it, you can view the battlefield from literally any angle at any time.
Dead Again & Again
Fighting legions of zombies is cool; fighting as legions of zombies in multiplayer games is even cooler. Bungie has programmed in seven network contests, including variations on playground classics like King of the Hill and Kill the Man with the Ball, which you can play for free through bungie.net--with up to 16 players!
If nothing else, Myth will force StarCraft to shine that much brighter when it's released next year. In the meantime, today's bloated real-time strategy market could use a swift kick, and Myth: The Fallen Lords is one big-ass boot. What WarCraft started and Command & Conquer refined, Myth perfects.
- Keep an eye out for stray green dots on the radar screen to keep your army together.
- Use the terrain. Plant your archers atop hills whenever possible, and use trees as cover during attacks.
- Never fight the Wight hand to hand, unless it's a calculated sacrifice--they explode upon contact.
- One of the most annoying ways for your warriors to die is from your own archers' arrows. If your warriors storm in, select your archers and hit the space bar to make them stop firing.
- A tight box formation (the 5 key) works well for bridges, while a V-shaped vanguard (the 9 key) is the all-purpose "ready for action" choice.
- Dwarves can set grenades on the ground as mines, then trigger them for a chain reaction. This is good for protecting a base or flag.
Imagine this. You settle into your easy chair in front of your computer and fire up Bungie's latest offering Myth: The Fallen Lords. As the battle begins you point and click your armored warriors, keen-eyed archers, and Molotov cocktail-throwing dwarves about the battlefield. Your bowmen are engaged in verbal sparring with one another as they decimate the enemies' front ranks. You click on a dwarf and then target on an enemy unit with another mouse click. The dwarf remarks that you should make up your mind as far as where you want him to go, as he throws a flaming orb at the enemy. Unfortunately, the enemy is up the hill and the burning bomb rolls backwards, exploding amidst your own troops, taking your dwarf and a few warriors out in a spectacle of bloody flying body parts. Welcome to the humorous, grotesque and realistic 3D fantasy world of Myth: The Fallen Lords, and to one of the most entertaining real-time strategy games on the market.
Gameplay and Controls
Unlike the majority of real-time strategy games, Myth: The Fallen Lords focuses on combat and only combat. There is no resource management record-keeping, no supply issues, no cultural development goals. This is not to say the game lacks depth or background story. On the contrary, the game goes to great lengths to establish the history of the battles you fight out.
The story takes place in a war-ravaged land disintegrating under the oppression of the Dark forces -- the powerful and evil wizards known as the Fallen Lords and their army of the undead. In opposition stand the Nine, a group of wizards, and the army of humans, dwarves, and other defenders of the Light. It begins in with the desperate defense of the last free City, and moves onward from there, building the story of the game with each battle. At times I wanted to proceed past a battle, just to get to the next point in the story.
Each battle starts with a voice-narrated journal of what has happened in the past few days, and what is the purpose or goal of the scenario. There are also detailed maps to flesh out where the action is taking place. I found that these introductions helped to reinforce the game's fantastical setting, making it seem more real, as well as providing information on how to successfully complete the scenario.
Strategically the game focuses on three things -- unit or character type, formation and terrain. Each character type has its own strengths and weaknesses that need to be exploited or minimized, and failure to do so can be devastating. If you allow the enemies to get into hand-to-hand combat with your archers, you tend to lose your archers. Formation is a very important aspect of the game, the difference between getting slaughtered and surviving. I felt I was in a constant learning process to see what would work best in what circumstances. Unfortunately, the manual gives little or no guidance to the player on when to use what formation. Terrain in Myth: The Fallen Lords covers a broad spectrum of hills, trees, bogs, lakes, and rivers, as well as weather. The first time it started to rain in a game I was very impressed. Terrain reinforces the realism of the game, especially with character types such as grenade-throwing dwarves. If the dwarf throws the grenade up the hill, it can roll back down. If the dwarf throws into a lake, it fizzles out. Walking your troops into a bog can be disastrous.
In order to let the fantastical elements of the game take center stage, there are very few on-screen controls or toolbars. Unit commands consist of selecting the characters via the mouse, specifying a formation via keystroke, and then a mouse click to their destination on the map. Most tactical commands such as retreat, or character special abilities such as healing, are also activated by a keystroke. Thankfully, Bungie included a Quick Reference card for the keyboard to help you get up to speed.
The most difficult aspect of the controls, and most important, is the point of view of the camera. It can be controlled via mouse or keyboard, but the bottom line is knowing how to move your camera to give you the best view in combat is a key to victory. To help keep your place on the battlefield, an overhead map sits in the upper right hand corner of the map. Although it can be turned off, I found it helpful in maintaining control of my troops as they moved all over the battlefield.
Overall, I found the combination of the strategy and the game's interface a challenge to learn, but not impossible. The best place to start is the Tutorial, which demonstrates the basics with a sense of humor. The game is rather unforgiving of mistakes, and there were times when I finished playing for the evening that I would feel tired and exhausted as if I had actually been on the field of battle. In the end, the reward of spending time to become familiar with the system is well worth the work.
The opening credits begin with an animated sequence of a red-haired barbarian moving with deathly accuracy through a ruined city. The imagery is worthy of a Disney movie, and sets the tone for the high-quality images of the rest of the game. The characters are 2D figures displayed upon a 3D landscape, with some of the terrain features also 2D. The trees and buildings are particularly impressive. Although I played the game on a system without 3Dfx support, and I experienced some slowness and pixelation, I think the graphics are top-level for the strategy field.
The music and the background sounds enhance the game's ability to immerse you into a fantastic world of battle, and further demonstrates the amount of detail Bungie put into the game. The music mixes foreboding drums and melancholy strings in an epic soundtrack that establishes the hopelessness of humanity's last stand against the evil, undead Fallen Lords. Battles begin with a calm before the storm of birds chirping amidst the rolling landscapes of the battlefield. Each hero talks with a variety of phrases that give him individual character. The hacking and slashing of swords and axes, the flutter of bow strings, and ominous chanting of the magical healing contribute to a realistic, as well as occasionally humorous, combat experience.
Enemy AI and Difficulty
The AI of Myth: The Fallen Lords does not want for lack of effectiveness or efficiency, as it repeatedly taught me the hard lessons of simplistic attack strategies. It utilizes each unit type to its full advantage, and does interesting things like attempting to get your troops to follow one unit out of formation and away from your main force and focus. It is refreshing to play a game that demands a lot out of its players on the standard skill level. The difficulty levels range from easy to extremely hard: Timid, Simple, Normal, Heroic, and Legendary. However, Timid and Simple rendered the enemy troops almost too stupid in comparison with Normal, which at times I thought was almost insurmountable.
Perhaps it is an oxymoron to discuss realism in relation to a fantasy game, but it is one of the facets of the game that make it so entertaining. Arrows bounce off the canopy of trees and shrubs. The most impressive portions of realism are the explosions that ripple the landscape and send debris flying in all directions.
Myth: The Fallen Lords scores its highest marks in the multiplayer experience. It supports up to 16 players via TCP/IP and Appletalk protocols and there are seven different network games, including team play. Bungie has also set up its own Internet gaming service, bungie.net, which makes it easy to find other people online to play with. The bottom line is that I liked the game when I was playing against the computer, but once I entered the multiplayer arena, I loved the game. It reminded me of the first time I played multiplayer Quake -- it was a whole new game, and a lot more fun.
The manual that comes with the game is not flashy, but well done, touching all the basic facets of the game. In addition, interspersed with the text and screen shots, there are pencil sketches that bring the characters from the game to life. The manual also includes a brief overview of all the characters, both Light and Dark, as well as a Glossary. On the downside, I felt the manual should have spent more time discussing strategy, especially the use of different formations in different situations. Also, in the interest of the story line, I would like to have seen them include a map of the Myth world. However, the most important piece of documentation shipped with the game is the Quick Reference for the keyboard.
This game is hardware intensive; on the plus side, it not only runs on Windows 95, but you can also play it on NT and MAC systems.
Required (Windows): Windows 95 or NT 4.0, DirectX 5.0, Pentium (133 MHz or higher recommended), 16 MB RAM (32 recommended), DirectX compatible video card (best with 3Dfx support), DirectX compatible sound card, 4X CD-ROM drive
Required (Mac): Power Macintosh or 100% compatible clone, 100mhz or faster, monitor capable of 16-bit color and 640x480 resolution, System 7.5 or higher, 4X CD-ROM drive.
Reviewed On: NT4.0, Pentium II-266, 64 MB RAM, 20X CD-ROM drive, Matrox Millennium (4 MB), Integrated Yamaha soundcard
Patches/Updates: Available at ftp://ftp.bungie.com/pub
It may not be as expansive as other real-time strategy games, as it focuses solely on combat, but Myth: The Fallen Lords is bloody, good fun, especially when you move into the multiplayer arena. The simplicity of the game allows it to focus on things like realistic terrain where grenades roll back down the hill at you or blow up and take your own troops out. It also builds a great deal of storyline and strategy as well as a sense of humor into a realistic fantasy world. Despite its steep learning curve, which can be frustrating at times, I would definitely recommend Myth: The Fallen Lords to anyone who enjoys a good battle.