Heroes of Might & Magic V 1.5

Peter Cohen, Macworld
10 December, 2007
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Heroes of Might & Magic V represents a new chapter in Freeverse Software’s story. The company is best known for developing and publishing casual gaming fare for the Mac and PC, but this game is a straight-up conversion from Windows. It’s also the first game to have been published using TransGaming’s Cider technology. It shipped earlier this year, but Freeverse and TransGaming only recently ironed out some serious problems with the game’s 1.5 release, which I’m reviewing here. The original release was plagued with game save file corruption issues, memory leaks and other show stoppers. Version 1.5, I’m happy to say, is a much more robust release.

Heroes of Might & Magic V is the latest instalment of a long-running turn-based fantasy strategy game.

We find ourselves on the world of Ashan, a land populated by humans and magical beings. The Griffin Empire is preparing for the marriage ceremony of young Emperor Nicolai to his betrothed, the lovely Isabel. It’s then that the Demons attack — horrible creatures with horns, hooves and fangs that command the very powers of Hell. Nicolai leads his forces into war as Isabel convinces her escorts, Godric and Beatrice, to summon as much help as they can to repel the enemy.

This plays out over a turn-based system; each turn, you can move your forces through the countryside a specific number of steps, so you must plot out your moves carefully. And if you come across the enemy, you’ll do battle on a grid-based tactical screen — sort of a big game of chess.

The gameplay will be familiar to ardent fans of the series, but now includes a very compelling 3D game engine that helps achieve a consistent style throughout the game. I like it a lot more than the previous Might and Magic games for that reason — the older games in the series used 2D-style graphics. 3D provides you with a much better situational awareness because you can rotate the map, scale in and out, and reveal things that aren’t easily visible to you at first glance (there’s even a preference to engage “classic” HOMM view, if you want to stay “old school”).

As a Cider game that operates only on Intel Macs, performance was acceptable on my 2.33GHz MacBook Pro (a late-2006 model), though there were occasional slowdowns. I haven’t had the chance to test the game out on a MacBook or Mac mini with integrated graphics, but Freeverse is proud of the fact that the game runs on those systems, where it doesn’t on comparable PC systems running Windows.

Single-player campaigns in the game first serve to familiarise you with game mechanics (as tutorial missions in the beginning), and you get to play alternately as Haven and Inferno forces (good guys and bad guys, respectively). As you travel the maps through each level, you discover a wealth of resources to exploit.

Along the way you’re tasked with capturing towns and fortifications which you can use to build up your forces, hire new heroes and send them with troops into battle, and create specialised units such as cavalry, bowmen and machines of war like ballistae (ancient catapults that launched huge stones at the brick walls of castles and forts).

The game features multiplayer capabilities, and you can play against PC players. Previously, Mac users were relegated to playing against each other online.

Australian Macworld’s buying advice.
Heroes of Might & Magic V 1.5 is a solid strategy game that moves the legendary series in incremental new directions. Since this is TransGaming’s first major game conversion attempt, a certain level of patience has been necessary to allow the game to get to a point where it’s solid enough to recommend.

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