Heroes of Might and Magic V

So first I would like to say that even though they have been around for ages, I am a newcomer to the Heroes of Might and Magic games. I played plenty of the Might and Magic role playing series derived from the Heroes series, but I was never very interested in strategy games, so the Heroes series was largely overlooked in my world. Recently I signed up for Gametap, and in between reminiscing with Shining in the Darkness, Sonic the Hedgehog, and Sword of Vermillion I figured that I might as well check out Heroes of Might and Magic.

Andrew and I spent a good long while playing the first game. Heroes of Might and Magic was first released in 1995, but even the first installment of the series was so much fun it sparked off an immediate desire to play more. And then Heroes of Might and Magic II, III, and IV.

I went out and bought a copy (the last copy, I might add) of Heroes V the day it came out. I was surprised to learn in my research before I bought the game that 3DO, the developer of the Might and Magic series, had gone under and Nival had taken over the game. And they have carried on the tradition brilliantly.

If you were to play any of the old Heroes games and then play Heroes V the first thing that would strike you is the difference in graphics. Heroes IV was released in 2002, Heroes V in 2006. Four years have made an absolutely incredible difference. First and foremost, and perhaps most impressive when compared to the older games, is the transition from the flat, immovable, single screen cities to this:

Move up, down, zoom in and out, and go around in a full circle around your city, and enjoy the stunning opening animation every time you enter. Moving the camera around your city can be a bit awkward, but the easy command circles in the right and left lower corrners of the screen mean that you don't have to click on the specific building to perform the action associated with that building. So moving around and checking things out is really more to appreciate the stunning graphics than for anything practical.

Hows that for a change? ^_^

Overland travel through the main map has been equally revamped. Every bit of resource and random encampment or artifact you come across is beautifully rendered. The meticulous attention to detail to the cities and buildings is readily apparent. Interestingly enough, while the overland maps of the pervious Heroes games tended to be fairly open, constricting to smal; paths blocked with monsters only in a few spots, the overland maps of Heros V seem tm be more confining, trapping you in the envinronment and leaving you to wrestle a bit with the camera to figure out how to navigate from point A to point B. Fortunately, you get used to it quickly.

Combat has also been revamped. One change I very much appreciated was the ability to arrange my units before combat. I loved that skill in the earlier games, I believe the skill set was "battle tactics" or something to that effect. Unit movement is clearly outlined in bright green squares, also making it easier to move troops around having to slowly slide the mouse across the screen to see how far you can move your units. ^_^ The initiative bar at the bottom of the screen showing you the battle sequence in advance is great. Your hero doesn't participate in battle like in IV, but hangs out in the corner until it is his/her turn, then can attack or sling spells as usual.

And speaking of your heroes...

Think this is cool? You should see the heroes for the evil factions.

Your heroes will have a much wider variety of skills to choose from when they level up, enabling you to specialize your hero to a greater extent than any of the other games. And interestingly enough, each race of hero has only one class. For instantance, dark elf heroes are always warlocks.

And here are some unit model examples:

Overall, I feel that Heroes of Might and Magic V was a brilliant follow up after the four years since Heroes IV. And the thing that makes Heroes of Might and Magic V especially worth it to me is that they kept the multiplater hot seat option. I was harboring a fear that the hot seat option would have been dismissed as too "old school" for the new Heroes game, and I am happy and relieved to know that I was wrong. And remember that just like the older games, Heroes five is slow paced without feeling slow placed, so block out well over an hour before you sit down to play!


Silent Hill Movie Review

Silent Hill
**1/2 out of ****

I love the Silent Hill games. I own Silent Hill, Silent Hill 2, Silent Hill 3, and Silent Hill 4: The Room (but I haven't beaten 4 yet ^_^). Awesome games, even if sometimes the final revelations at the end aren't the mind blowing expositions that you were hoping for. I was excited when I learned about the Silent Hill movie, expecially since it had some actors in it that I like quite a bit. Radha Mitchell, most notably from Pitch Black, and Sean Bean, most notably from... well, Lord of the Rings I guess. ^_^

There were a lot of awesome things in the movie, but let us reflect for a moment on the awesomeness of Pyramid Head.

Okay, so this isn't Pyramid Head from the movie, but its an awesome picture all the same. ^_^ Movie Pyramid Head was perfect. Menacing, unspeakably horrific, INVINCIBLE! Okay, maybe I'm drawing a bit more from Silent Hill 2 here, and not the movie, but Pyramid Head in the movie really was extremely well done. I would have liked to have seen more of it, but aside from one or two scenes, Pyramid Head was notably absent.

The entire feel of the movie was great, really capturing the atmosphere of the games. From the very first moment the main character gets to Silent Hill and her car radio begins to blare the all-too-familiar static from the games (and again from the police officer's radio), it's perfect. The heavy fog clouding all of Silent Hill so you can barely make out the next few feet in front of you is perfect. The "normal" version of Silent Hill (pictured), and the "other" version of Silent Hill were both perfect. For me that was the movie's main strength-- it's overall feel, which was so close to the games.

Another cool thing about the movie was the monsters. The vaguely humanoid monsters roaming the foggy streets of the town were great, the little charred children-monsters were okay, and the nurses in the Silent Hill hospital were beautifully designed! I was pretty disappointed with the nurses- they were all standing around in a big group, and were "awakened" by light. And when they got confused and started slashing each other, it was ridiculous. Yep, as far as design goes, the nurses were awesome-- they suffered severely in behaviour.

The last "boss" in the movie was, in the grand tradition of Silent Hill endgame bosses, intimidating, impressive, and faintly ridiculous. The movie did well there too. ^_^

The movie had a lot of strengths in its similarities to the game, which undoutably made plenty of gamers (me included) more than happy, and its appealing actors. However, it suffered from a badly written script (as if we weren't all expecting that), some laughable acting, and a few unbearably cheesy moments. But for all of that, I thoroughly enjoyed it. It's worth seeing in the theater if you're a fan of the games-- if you're not, you can probably wait until it comes out on video.