Heroes of Might and Magic III: Shadow of Death
Genre: Turn-Based Strategy/ Online
Minimum System Requirements:Win95/98/NT4, P133, 32MB RAM, 4X CD-ROM, 320MB HD Space, 800x600x16bit Video, DX 7.0-compatible sound
Recomended System:Windows 98 running on a K6-III 450 w/256MB RAM, 6x24 DVD-ROM drive, SoundBlaster Live!, Creative Labs Riva TNT2 Ultra w/32MB RAM
This is definitely a sequel (well, an upgrade of a sequel) that doesn’t suck. Basically, 3DO took the already-great Heroes III and added a whole other campaign, more single player missions, a few gameplay tweaks, and repackaged it. The thing is, it’s so good, no one will care.
For those that haven’t played a Heroes game before, the game works pretty simply. You have one or more Heroes, who wander around the world, gaining troops and fighting enemies. There are hundreds of different sorts of places to visit on a map such as places that give you a certain resource each day to places with artifacts that make your heroes more powerful to heaps of gold. Your heroes gain levels, like most RPGs, and each level gives them new skills and new abilities which you can choose from. Many of the campaign levels have a cap as to how many levels you can gain in the campaign, but that turns out to be not much of a limit.
There are also cities, and they are where your troops generally come from. There are tons of different kinds of cities, from your generic Human town to Infernal ones, ones reeking of Magic, and everything in-between. Part of the fun of the game is acquiring lots of city types so you can make crazy armies. Most of the buildings in the cities can be upgraded, making you more money, stronger units... whatever.
Shadow of Death itself is a blast, and each map may have you trying to protect a town or vanquish the enemy or find the Holy Grail. (Blue? No! Yellow! er...) If that isn’t enough, you can build your own maps and campaigns and give them to your friends or keep them all to your lonesome. HoMM3 has so much customization, you’ll never grow bored of it -- and it comes with hundreds of hours of gameplay anyway.
There’s really only one flaw -- the combat engine. On your side, every unit of a specific type is represented as a single unit with a number signifying just how many you have. This may make for less bookkeeping and makes the battles faster, but sometimes it’d be nice to flank an enemy with two griffon groups or two devils, but you can’t because they’re only one unit. You learn to manage, though, and it’s still damned fun.