Misfortune has befallen the land of Enroth. Good King Roland has
disappeared, and his final letters to the palace tell tales of a
gigantic army of devils in Enroth's northwestern badlands. Queen
Catherine is away in the land of Erathia, attending to her father's
funeral. These simultaneous occurrences have left child Prince Nicolai
on the throne, but how exactly can a child attend to these matters?
Moreover, the mysterious Temple of Baa is gaining popularity throughout
the land, despite uncertainty over their true motives. The lords and
ladies of the land are bickering over what to do, and there are further
rumors that the High Council of Enroth contains a traitor, a high
priest of Baa. The Oracle of Enroth must be consulted, but only
unanimous consent of the Council will allow consultation, and that
seems unlikely. When the citizens of the land whisper about the
Ironfist Dynasty losing their Mandate of Heaven - their divine right to
rule - could it be true?
Thus begins an epic journey into the mystical realm of Enroth, a land
of good and evil, swords and sorcery - Might and Magic.
Installation is handled nicely by New World Computing, as they have
elected to include two CDs. One of which is the installation CD - which
contains all the information that needs to be stored on the hard drive.
Install sizes of 250 and 450 Megs are available, and while that is a
large amount, it prevents the player from having to swap CDs as they
switch between areas - a definite advantage. Once the game is
installed, simply put away the install CD - you won't need it again.
The second CD, with the game data, must be in to start the game, and is
the only one actually needed to play the game.
The box also comes with a full color cloth map, showing a general
overview of the land of Enroth - not necessary, but a handy addition to
help keep your bearings as you travel the land.
Also included, and is highly recommended reading, is the 64 page
manual. Much as reading a manual can be a tedious task, it is highly
recommended, as there are a great number of facets to the game, and the
manual does an admirable job of covering them. The first few pages are
an overview of the plot and land of Enroth, as well as King Roland's
aforementioned final 5 letters - the 8 pages are well written, and shed
some light on the plot and land itself (there's also a clue for a quest
late in the game). There's also a handy key reference for various
keyboard shortcuts, character creation information, character
inventory/status screens, a gigantic spell listing with information for
all of the game's 99 spells, and a short tutorial assisting new players
on how to begin their journey.
Character creation is nicely done. You receive 4 slots for your party
members, and there are 6 character classes. The primary classes are
Knight, Cleric, and Sorcerer. Knights are the only class to receive no
spells, but gain massive amounts of hit points, can use any weapon and
armor, and are an effective packhorse. Clerics may use most armor, a
decent selection of weapons, and gain access to the three Clerical
magic categories (Body, Mind, and Spirit) and are one of two classes to
gain access to the Mirrored magics (Light and Dark). Sorcerers are your
basic magical bad-asses, with access to the 4 Elemental categories of
spells and Mirrored, but are very limited, armor/weapon-wise. The three
other classes are hybrids - Archer (Knight and Sorcerer), Paladin
(Knight and Cleric), and Druid (Cleric and Sorcerer). The three hybrid
classes have abilities of both, but are not as powerful in their
abilities as the "pure" classes. Pick wisely, as your four heroes will
be together for the entire game. You also may select from eleven
character portraits (7 male, 4 female), and these largely define
personalities for the heroes - each has their own facial animations,
speech, and so on. Allocate a few skill points among each character's 7
stats, choose 2 extra skills, and off you go. The beauty of the system
is that it allows new players to have diverse, well-rounded parties,
while more experienced players can have an idea of what they want in a
party - it brings back memories of picking 4 Fighters or 4 White Mages
in the original Final Fantasy for fun. (As a side note, my party of
Knight, Archer, Cleric and Sorcerer saw me through even the most
hostile situations - your mileage may vary).
Initially, you may be a bit overwhelmed - approximately 2/3 of the
screen is devoted to the party's view (1st person), and there a
multitude of other features available - character portraits with HP/SP
bars, a small map, a compass, and several rows of buttons. The tutorial
in the manual helps a great deal, however, as it is quite specific in
how to do useful tasks. Further, many of the tedious tasks found in
some RPGs are automatically taken care of. The automap is quite useful
unless in a very compact, complex dungeon - if you can cast the
Wizard's Eye spell to use it. Auto-notes take care of a variety of
information. Quests are logged, with specific tasks to do and who/where
they originated (you'll have to find the dungeons yourself). Hints are
recorded, as are a variety of other pieces of information - you won't
have to write down which fountain in which town temporarily boosts your
strength, and which restores HP - it'll store that for you. About the
only piece of information the game doesn't automatically record for you
is the location of expert and master skill teachers, but they're not
excessively difficult to find. Another minor flaw is that there is no
way to annotate the maps, so in a large town, you can wander around for
quite a while before you find the right house - it's not a major
problem, but can be annoying.
Character inventory, status, and skills are all located in the same
place, and are easily accessed via a double-click on the appropriate
character's portrait. Statistics are available, showing the base stats
and any modifiers (either positive or negative), as well as
resistances, level, experience, and current condition. The skill menu
shows each of a character's skills, their levels and ranking
(apprentice, expert, or master), and allows you to allocate skill
points if wanted. The inventory is grid-based, with each item taking a
certain number of spaces - naturally, a full suit of plate armor will
take more space than a leather tunic. You can also equip a character by
simply placing the equipment on the character's full-body portrait, and
there is space for a great deal of equipment - armor, shield,
weapon(s), bow, belts, helmets, shoes, gauntlets, amulets, and 6 rings.
As would be expected, there are many different types of equipment, and
various enchantments. Also quite intuitive is the interface -
left-clicking will select or move the equipment, and a right-click will
do multiple things - attempt to have the character repair broken items,
identify unknown items, and display information on that piece.
Right-clicking will also show information on many things throughout the
game - show an enemy's HP, tell you what a statistic actually DOES,
tell the impact that expert or master ranking has on a certain skill,
etc. In almost all cases, the information is a click away, which is
Unlike many RPGs, the character's level is not the defining factor on
how well they will perform. Higher level characters will certainly have
more power, but that is because they have higher skills. Each character
class has skills they can and cannot learn, and most are purchased
during the game - go to a guild, pay a few hundred gold, and learn the
basic skill. Unlike many games, the skill is also needed to actually do
anything - if you don't have the leather armor skill, you just can't
equip leather armor. If you don't have Water magic skill, you can't
learn any spells from that category. While it may seem a bit limiting,
it's a simple matter to find a place offering skills you'd like. When
you increase a level, you gain a certain number of skill points, and
those are allocated into your skills. To raise a skill, just click on
it in the skill menu - a level 3 skill costs 3 points, etc. The higher
the skill level, the more points needed, and the more effective it is.
Furthermore, once level 4 of a skill is reached, a teacher can bestow
Expert status on a skill, offering additional bonuses, and Master
teachers have varying requirements, bestowing even more power. The
effects depend on the skill, but there's a definite advantage to
Mastering skills you'll use often. As the game progresses, you'll find
your characters casting more powerful, longer-lasting spells, hitting
more often and harder with weapons, repairing and identifying more
unique items, and swindling merchants - or being swindled less, at
least. It's very rewarding to gain those last few skill points to
master a new skill, and be rewarded - a personal favorite is mastered
Sword skill, which allows a sword in each hand (or a sword and another
weapon) for a massive damage boost (and it looks extremely cool to have
a razor-sharp broadsword in one hand and a purple coral trident in the
other). The flexibility of the system is unmatched, as you can choose
whether or not to become extremely powerful in one or two skills, or
somewhat powerful in a variety - the skill points to raise a skill to a high (20+ level) could
raise a lesser skill several levels, giving the gamer complete control.
Quests are given by varying people throughout the game, and involve
different things. Most fall into the "fetch and tote" or "terminate
with extreme prejudice" categories, but the variety in locales and
encounters minimizes tedium. Rewards are given, usually in the form of
large experience boosts, gold, or simply allowing the plot to move
along. Some quests are required, but many are not, and the diligent
gamer is rewarded with more gold, more items, and a more varied gaming
experience. There are also a dozen promotion quests - two for each
class - that bestow new titles and power upon your characters. You'll
find a Sorcerer becoming a Wizard, and then an Archmage, with
corresponding boosts in HP and SP. You aren't limited to promotion
classes for your party's classes - you can also earn honorary titles.
Time is an important factor in Enroth. Like it or not, the world
doesn't run at your convenience. Stores maintain constant hours, and if
you arrive too late, you'll have to wait until morning. Certain spells
can't be cast at certain times - Moon Ray won't work in the day, and
Sun Ray won't work at night, for example. A few quests cannot be done
except on certain days. Stables and ships run on set schedules, and go
nowhere on some days. Training is required for your character to go up
in level, and takes one week of time - a factor if you're on a tight
schedule (although your whole party can train at once, as many levels
as you want - and it'll only take a week). If it's night, it's dark -
you'll need an illumination spell. The weather also plays a part - in
the Frozen Highlands, there's a lot of snow. Some days are clear and
bright, others are foggy, and others are just dark. The world is
Aside from the 4 PCs you control, you can hire up to 2 NPCs for your
quest. There are a multitude of different NPC professions, ranging from
cook and cobbler to Water master and Banker. Each has different
requirements for joining (a small starting fee of gold and a percentage
of all profits), and each offers different skills. Scouts will shorten
travel time across the land, an Acolyte will cast Bless on you once a
day, and an Instructor will raise experience gained by 15%. Finding the
right ones can be a challenge in the crowded towns, but the right NPCs
can compensate for shortcomings in your party and help make your quest
that much easier.
In short, Might and Magic provides a very robust, full-featured gaming
experience, without sacrificing accessibility.
Graphics are a bit of a step back, especially if you've taken up the
experience of playing PC games on a 3D accelerator. They're not ugly,
but graphics have been done much better elsewhere. The enemies and NPCs
have some animation, but not much, and look almost plastic-like.
There's also some palette-swapping, with each class of enemy having 3
types, each with different abilities and strengths/weaknesses. There is
a lot of variety in monster types, but each map area only has a few
types, and most dungeons are limited to only 2 or 3 different classes
of enemies - it can get tedious in the larger dungeons as you fight the
same group of enemies for the hundredth time. Familiarity breeds
contempt, as they say, but there are a great deal of monster types -
just not all at once.
On the other hand, the art direction is excellent, as the number of
different styles of dungeon are difficult to number. They range from
the typical "stone fortress" and "dank caves" to some unique ones. One
of the most memorable dungeons in the game is the "Tomb of VARN", which
is essentially a gigantic (and I mean absolutely HUGE - it's bigger
than some outdoor areas) Egyptian pyramid. You walk in through picture
doors, past some hieroglyphics, into a spectacular cavern with a
miniature pyramid - it's honestly not something that can be described,
it's got to be seen to be believed.
The sound effects are varied and nice. Also well done is the character
speech - each character portrait has a difference voice actor,
different mannerisms, and the like, even if they say many of the same
things. If you're in a difficult dungeon, a party member will ask
"Where are we?" or state that "I've got a bad feeling about this
place." If you walk in and out of a store without buying or selling
anything, the vendor may call you a "cheapskate" or "tightwad", to
which your characters will defensively state "How rude!" - it adds a
feeling of life to the world. Set off a trap in a chest or cast a
radius spell too close to the party, and the offending party will get a
sheepish look and apologize with a quick "Sorry!" or Homer-esque
"D'oh!" Music is redbook audio, and only plays when you enter an area
or when you reload a game. While this leads to some long stretches
where there's no music, it's done well in that you don't get sick of
the music easily. The quality of the music's also varied, and generally
The story is not the best - much of the plot description at the
beginning of the review comes from the manual, and the story is spread
around once inside the game. That said, it must be remembered that this
is a CRPG, not a console RPG - they're entirely different in style. As
a further comparison, if SaGa Frontier can be criticized as a reason to
avoid non-linearity (as it frequently is), Might and Magic VI can be
used as a superb counterpoint. Until the end, the game is almost
entirely non-linear. This can be distracting, and as I've said, it can
be overwhelming at first, especially if the player has little CRPG
experience. With so much to do, and the versatility of the character
and skill systems, though, the non-linearity is not a problem. The
story is there, and it's just as good as many console RPGs - you've got
to go hunt for it, though. The mysteries are resolved, and you find out
plenty of the world of Enroth and its inhabitants. There's even going
to be a sequel (the end is rather blatant about that, and Might and
Magic VII is actually scheduled for release in a few months).
Controlling the game is a bit daunting at first, but becomes second
nature. The game can be played almost exclusively with the keyboard,
actually - movement is via the arrow keys, there are many shortcuts.
The mouse is also useful for a variety of functions - it's all up to
the preference of the player, which is nice. The game lacks any means
of remapping the keyboard keys, but I hardly noticed it.
Rather than debate over which is better - real time or turn based
combat, the designers at New World Computing wisely decided to put both
in. The default is real time. Whenever you want, however, just hit
Enter to pause the game. You can't move in turn-based mode, but it
gives you all the time you need to plan your strategy and cast spells.
Indeed, turn-based can be easier at times, but both are needed to play
the game effectively. Some critics have charged that the game plays
more like Quake than an RPG, while it's true that real time combat
doesn't require much thought and often becomes a test of just pressing
the attack or spell keys as quickly as possible, it's not a valid
comparison. Personally, I enjoy being able to move my party around in
the thick of battle, dodging behind a wall to avoid a spell, charging a
group of spellcasters, etc - I'm sorry, but it's stupid to expect a
party to just sit there and attack while a mob of monsters is
surrounding them and hacking away. There's also the infamous "Hall of
Arrows technique", where a party runs backwards flinging arrows at
pursuers - a bit cheap, perhaps, but effective.
One of the game's slight oddities is also explainable. Characters are
allowed to place equipment in both hands - a mace and a shield, two
swords, a two-handed poleax - whatever. They may also have a crossbow
or longbow on their backs, and when the attack button is pressed, if no
enemies are in melee range, an arrow (or two, if a Master) is launched.
It can seem quite unrealistic for a person with both hands full to
launch arrows, but if you keep an eye on the clock in the corner, the
game's time scale is greatly accelerated, and a single combat turn for
a character is 1-2 minutes of game time, so it's acceptable (although
there is no explanation available for the party's infinite arrow supply
outside of simply being handled with the least annoyance).
Since it's a PC game, some mention must be made of system requirements.
As mentioned, it doesn't support 3D acceleration. The box requirements
state that a Pentium 90 is basic (P166 recommended), and the rest of
the requirements have been standard for the last 5 years - most gamers
should have no problems running Might and Magic VI on their computers.
There is some slowdown in one or two dungeons, but the game as a whole
runs remarkably smooth, and detail levels can be adjusted for the fussy
With all of the things going for this game, is it flawless? Of course
not. Potentially the worst thing going against this game is tedium.
Some of the larger dungeons can take upwards of 3 or 4 hours to
complete, and since most dungeons only have 3 or 4 different types of
monster, you'll be fighting the same mobs over and over and over again.
Furthermore, much of the time fighting will simply be holding down on
the attack key. While it's disappointing that many dungeon crawls boil
down to this, I suppose that being a hero isn't all fun and games.
Crossing the landscapes and dungeons can also become slightly tedious,
especially if you've cleared the area, because the party's running
speed isn't especially high (although a Fly spell outdoors greatly
improves travel speed).
Another potential problem is the size of some of the monster battles.
One of the most memorable experiences in one of the prior games, Might
and Magic II, was when your party of 6-8 stumbled into a goblin
encampment of 256 goblins - and won. The feeling of such mass scale
battles is frequent in M&M6, especially on the maps - there are
literally hundreds of creatures per area, and they're generally grouped
together in smaller groups. This all goes back to tedium, as clearing
out some enemy groups can be more pain than it's worth, even if the
enemies have good gold and equipment on them. (Once the Fly, Town
Portal, and Lloyd's Beacon spells are mastered, however, this becomes
much less of an issue as you blaze across Enroth at your will, though)
On the other hand, finding a huge group of skeletons or lizard men can
be amusing when your party's more powerful, as you can wipe out an
entire group with a well-aimed Meteor Storm spell.
Indeed, this is perhaps Might and Magic VI's greatest strength - you
actually feel and see your party growing. In the beginning, you're a
bunch of weaklings, barely able to hit an enemy, let alone hurt them
that much. In the end, however, you can romp across the landscape,
obliterating anything in your path, and you can even continue playing
after you've beaten the game, in case you missed anything. That sense
of accomplishment is perhaps the best reason to keep playing.
When all is said and done, the sheer fun of exploration and character
development is more than enough to keep playing Might and Magic VI. It
can get tedious at times, and the gameplay and graphics have a few
limitations. That alone is not enough to drag the game down, and in the
end, the end result is more than the sum of its parts. Choose to enter
the land of Enroth, and you'll find yourself playing for well over 100
|Might & Magic VI sports fairly average graphics.
|A good-looking dungeon scene.