Legends of Might and Magic Review
By Michael Richter |
In the realm of PC gaming, first-person shooters are about as numerous as the hairs on Dan's head. Well, maybe that's a bad example since Dan is getting a little light on "attic insulation," but you get my point. There are a lot of shooters out there, and rarely does anyone try to break the mold and really try to do something different in the FPS arena. That's why we had high-hopes for 3DO's medieval squad-based Legends of Might and Magic (LoMM). But alas, try as we might, we just couldn't find any magic in this lackluster addition to shooter horde.
Most of you are probably familiar with Counter-Strike, the brilliant Half-Life mod -- well apparently so is the dev team at New World Computing. LoMM pretty much blatantly rips off Counter-Strike, only instead of terrorists versus anti-terrorists, it's the forces of good versus evil set against a fantasy backdrop. Everything from weapon purchasing to round advancement to even some of the game types are faithfully recreated in a "swords and sorcerery" montage, and although they say the best form of flattery is imitation, in this case, the impersonation fails to come anywhere close to the original.
Touted as an "online team combat" shooter, LoMM just doesn't cut it (yes, there is an offline component, but it's nothing more than simple training for the main online event against a mindless AI horde that does little more than rush at you head-on whipping daggers, axes, or whatever their choice of weapon may be).
The four game types -- Sword in the Stone, Rescue the Princess, Warlord Escape, and Slay the Dragon -- are just variations of game types found in other action shooters, which isn't bad in and of itself. I actually thought the game types worked well in the fantasy setting, and were neat twists on CTF, hostage rescue, hunted, and overload, respectively. Unfortunately, what is bad is that there's very little strategy involved in the game in order to achieve your goals. There seems to be two effective tactics in LoMM -- stick together or snipe -- as every game I played was won by either a team that moved as one big mass, jumping and firing like mad whenever they would come across someone from the other side, or by snipers armed with super-weapons perched high atop a precipice, building, or other similar vantage point.
And for an online game, there aren't many people playing LoMM. Finding a game is easy enough with GameSpy Arcade built into the game, but there were less than a dozen servers up at the time of this writing, and only three or four of those ever had more than eight people on at any given time.
While you can choose from three different classes on each side when you get in the game -- Paladin, Druid, and Sorceress for "Good," Warrior, Heretic, and Archer for "Dark" -- the different classes don't compliment each other in any way as they all have a melee and ranged attack. Because of this, there's no real sense of teamwork or the need to have a variety of different classes, because all of the professions have access to all of the weapons in the game save for one super-weapon that's tied to each class.
Speaking of weapons, like the classes, there's not much that separates the different arms from one another, and frankly, they're just plain boring. With all of the freedom that a fantastic, imaginary setting affords, the development team came up with weapons that are nothing more than an uninspired collection of wands, bows, and staves that fire red, blue, or green gobs. There are a few neat ideas for secondary attacks -- like the Gravity Axe that pulls people toward it when its thrown -- but for the most part the weapons are unimaginative, and a lot of the secondary attacks are reused in multiple weapons, giving you a feeling of "why did I buy this 5,000 gold piece wand when the 1,000 gold piece wand does the same damn thing?" To make matters worse, the class-specific super-weapons throw the balance of the entire game off. While most of the weapons are generally pretty weak and require multiple hits to take down an opponent, the super-weapons can often kill in just one shot -- and you're going to get killed again and again before you yourself can afford your own big-man staff.
Like most of the other aspects of the game, the look and feel of LoMM is mediocre at best. While the LithTech engine has never been as pretty as the Quake III or Unreal Tournament engine, I've certainly seen it look a lot better than this. The 20 multiplayer levels are bland, blocky, and artificial feeling, and the characters are simplistic, low-polygon models that hearken back to the days of Die By the Sword. Character animation is equally as "retro," and it seems as if the art team left out a few frames for the characters, as running looks more like skimming across the surface, and characters go from a standing position to a fully-suspended mid-air jump with nothing in-between.
All in all, LoMM is a mediocre title that fails to make its mark in the annals of PC shooters. The developers drew off of a solid blueprint, but what you're left with in the end is an unexciting, lackadaisical Counter-Strike knock-off set in a fantasy world.
-- Tal Blevins
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