To begin with: To be a bit crude: This is basically HOMM3 remade in 3D. Then again it is more.
First of: I don’t think HOMM4 is a bad game at all. It is different. When they created HOMM4 they listened to a lot of the community. Mostly the wrong people(?) The people that didn’t find HOMM3 challenging anymore. They had played other games like Age Of Wonders (I) and wanted a different game. They wanted an updated game, hence HOMM4 plays very differently than the other games in the Heroes of Might and Magic universe.
This makes HOMM4 a very different challenge. Ok – yes it had bugs and yes you can easily exploit them. But if you don’t – it is still a quite capable game. Only things I really mind are that the gfx is such 14 year girlish...
But of course HOMM4 flopped. As when all the people had theirs say in what they wanted: They basically wanted something that didn’t feel like Heroes anymore – and so – a winning formula was lost..
Or was it?
In the development of HOMM5 (by the same people that gave us the challenging Etherlords II) they tried to get back to the original formula that is so addictive from HOMM1-3. But yet make it a game that is up to today’s standards.
Believe me: transferring a 2D game like this into something that is playable in 3D is not an easy task. And except for a few times when its really hard to see some things on the map. It has been done flawlessly and beautiful.
Will the new 3D graphic demand too much from you PC? Well yes and no. If I put everything on low including resolution. I can play it on my laptop with a Radeon 9600 mobile. Of course it will put off a few lowest end systems – that can not play it. And that is always a bit dangerous as 2D games like this always has a lot of players on low end systems.
The music is updated of course and beautiful. Some inspiration from HOMM4 we still se here. But overall a much more complete music experience.
No more to the game. Even if the game play is a lot like HOMM3 there is actually plenty of new stuff going on under the hood. In fact almost everything had been reinvented. And this requires us to slowly interpret a new way of playing and new strategies.
Somehow everything that is new, is so carefully implemented that it feels like: this is how its always been and meant to be. In fact its like the magician that tells you that you have never seen before but assures you that he has been waiting for you: and asks you ”Why took you so long?”
The gfx engine is beautiful. Not top notch. But it gives you several smiles seeing your opponents getting it big time: Being crushed by your forces.
There is of course much more to say about it. But I think time will show if HOMM5 can become as popular as HOMM3. I think it is a superior game – but times have changed. When it comes to strategies and of course the AI’s new aggressive level: it will make this into an interesting journey. In fact I think the brilliant balancing of this new Heroes just might attract new players to the field.
Oh and... sleepless nights.. here I come...