Contributed by Lisa
We’ve had a great year of gaming in 2012 and a lot to look forward to in 2013, but in this article, I want to take you back in time. I’m taking you back to when games weren’t as graphically adept and advanced as they are now. However, that doesn’t mean that they weren’t any less enjoyable as they are today. As a younger person who has played older games, I feel I have come to appreciate what older games can bring you. This is why I would like to bring your attention to one game in particular; Might & Magic VI: The Mandate of Heaven.
Might & Magic VI is a 1998 RPG developed by New World Computing and published by 3DO. It is the 6th game in the RPG series of Might & Magic. The Might & Magic series included 9 RPG titles and 4 Turn-based strategy titles before the rights were bought by Ubisoft following 3DO filing for Chapter 11 bankrupcy.
Might & Magic VI is set in the fictional land of Enroth, which is invaded by unknown creatures. The game follows a band of warriors on a quest to save the kingdom from the clutches of the creatures that have appeared throughout the land and to uncover a plot to seize the throne. Your group of warriors originate from the town of Sweet Water but are forced to leave after it becomes over run by creatures known as Devils. A wizard finds you and trains up your group so that they can defend themselves, then drops you off at New Sorpigal to begin your adventure.
Although this game appears to be a fantasy RPG, it also has Sci-fi undertones that will come into play once the story advances. I really liked that touch of Sci-fi in the game as it reveals more of the background story and draws you further into the game. It also gives you a few interesting gameplay oppertunities later on in the game.
At the start of the game, there is a brief overview of what has happened since the adventurers left Sweet Water. After this, the character customisation screen for the party appears. You start with 4 human characters and unfortunatly you aren’t given an option to change their race, although this was fixed in later installments to include minotaurs, dark elves and even dragons. On this screen you can pick the class, faces and skills of your characters. You can also add points to their attribute levels. As with other games, some class types have different starting attributes and skills than others, furthermore you can add another 2 skills to each character. What skills you can add to each character depends on what class they are. New skills can always be learned at a respective guild as long as you have enough gold to do so.
The base attributes for your characters are: Might, Endurance, Speed, Luck, Personality, Accuracy and Intelligence. Different attrubute levels are important depending on class types in your party. Might governs how much damage your character does, while endurance determines how many hit points your character will have. Luck, aside from the obvious, helps with magic resistance. Intelligence determines how many spell points each character will have if they are an Archer, Druid or Sorcerer. Personality is used to determine the spell points for a Cleric, Paladin or Druid.
The character classes in this game include: Knight, Paladin, Druid, Archer, Cleric and Socerer. Each has their own skill limitations, for example, Knights can use all weapon types but can not use magic, therefore it is important to have a Cleric to heal the group and a Sorcerer to cast offensive magics. However, classes such as the Cleric and the Sorcerer are limted in what kinds of weapons they may use. In this respect, it is often best to select a party with a variety of classes.
There are quite a few differences between old and modern games. A lot of them are to do with the interface or style of play. The interface for Might and Magic IV is very different to what you might find in a modern game, which would usually just have a health bar and a bar to show what level your magic is still at. Any other options would all be on a seprate menu. In Might and Magic VI, the interface is styled to look like a marble wall on the side of the screen. It contains each characters health and magic bar, the spell book and various other books that bring up what date it is, what your current quests are etc.
One thing I noticed while playing this game is that the difficulty level is harder than what you would expect from a game at present. However, I believe this provides a suitable challenge and ensures that you do not fly through the game without enjoying some of the things it has to offer.
Another thing I like about this game is the reputation system, which even some modern games miss out. If you do quests for bad people, kill innocents or complete good quests it reflects on your reputation. It doesn’t just mean people talk to you more if you are good as often bad people refuse to talk to you if you have a good reputation. Some times it can be a bit of a balancing act, but most people will talk to you if you have a neutral or better reputation, so it doesn’t limit you too much.
Something that caught my eye about the alchemy system in this game is the fact that incompatible ingredients or potions explode if you try to mix them. Although this can be really annoying at times, I believe it adds a bit of realism to the game. Other RPGs, such as Skyrim, seem to overlook that. However, I found that you don’t tend to rely too heavily on potions in this game as much as you would in other RPGs.
This game also has a turn-based combat system. You can choose between real time and turn-based combat systems at the press of a button. The turn-based combat mode often comes in handy when there are lots of enemies or when you want to carefully select an effective spell. In real time mode, you can be easily overran by enemies, but it is nice to have the option there for you.
Although it has some great gameplay, I find myself dissapointed by the lack of any non-human playable races. I commend modern games such as The Elder Scrolls, for the addition of playable beast race characters and the attributes that come with them, as it brings a lot of diversity into gameplay.
To conclude, I believe Might and Magic VI is a great all round game for RPG lovers. It has quickly become one of my favorite games since I bought it many years ago and I really enjoy playing it. I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys RPG games, although they may have difficulty progressing through the game with a mindset focused on how modern RPGs play (as they have key differences from each other).