Magic and Mayhem: The Art of Magic
Recently, the demo-version of Magic and Mayhem: The Art of Magic has come into the world. The fate of this sequel is really unordinary. The project has changed its owners three times; by dictate of Virgin Interactive it was migrating from one studio to another. And finally, the game fell into the British company Climax Entertainment to be completed. The development of the project had been fairly delayed, but that has changed, and the game will be on the market soon.
The developers, in fact, did what everybody wanted from them. In essence, Art of Magic is nothing but the old good Magic and Mayhem in total 3D world. As to the engine, I can say that graphics is just excellent. Nice palette and color spectrum make green landscapes really vivid. The artists paid a lot of attention to numerous details. 3-dimensional monsters and magicians' figures as well as vivid effects of spells, of course, are worthy of separate discussion. Monsters in this game are really numerous. From those ones that is available in the beginning of the demo-version the most interesting ones are knights, Harpies and wolfs. Models of these creatures are just excellent!
If you have not played the original Magic and Mayhem then it's worthy to tell you a little bit about this game. In a general way, Art of Magic is a real-time strategic game with RPG elements. The gamer plays as a young magician, who wanders around the fairyland fighting with different evil magicians that keep kidnapping from time to time his relatives and friends. The storyline of this game is not unobtrusive. The sense is gameplay itself. Complete 3D, high-detailed landscape, nice trees, grass, wooden bridges make the game look beautiful. The regretful thing is that camera-rotating movement is somehow slow-downed. If there were Oscar prizes to the computer games, then Art of Magic would be awarded with one Oscar prize in the 'best sequel' nomination, while the second Oscar would be awarded for the best graphical effects in this season.
The unique system of creating spells is worthy of separate talk. You have only magic talismans in your arsenal. Using each of them together with one or another magic element gives a new unique spell at your disposal. As I've already told, beasts in Art of Magic are really numerous, as well as spell. Obtaining new talismans and different artifacts characteristics of your hero will be developing while wandering around fairy maps.
The main hero is developing quite easily. You get some scores for gathered artifacts and bonuses as well as for killing enemies. After accomplishing each mission those scores can be distributed between such parameters as health, mana and maximum quantity of creatures that can be under control.
One could think that it's nothing but an arcade: but that's not true! The main strategic element is necessity to control natural sources of mana. They are special locations that make mana recovering faster. More these locations are under your control, faster your mana is recovering and more powerful spells you can cast. On each map there can be more then one enemy magician. All of them are eager to get control over these sources of mana and keep sending their monsters to attack sources that are under your control. The strategic point of the game is to stay close to these sources and to be able to recapture them if necessary, while gathering the maximum quantity of bonuses, and to kill all bad guys. It looks not that hard, I guess. But all depends on the game difficulty level. The enemy is watchful, and as a rule, there are more powerful spells at the enemy's disposal. So, you must affect by stratagem and use help of friendly magicians that you may meet on maps.
AI in the game is on quite high level. The enemy is able to retreat, to patrol territory, and to use a right spell in a right moment. Easy life is not promised, so, you'll have to face not only skeletons and loathsome goblins. After having all bad guys killed on one map you get into the global map where you are free to choose where to go then.
Not only should the work done by artists be complimented, but also the one done by sound producers and actors. Sounds in the game are really good as usual! Goblins sound as true goblins, and as to our hero he's true rural straight man, who has just found out that he is kind of magician too.
In general, this demo-version gave me only pleasant impressions. The only thing is bad - the game does not like when the keys combination Alt+Tab is used in XP: strange things start happen with the PC and you have to restart it. Anyway, whatever it is, I guess this will be fixed by the time it should be released. In whole, the developers did right not naming the game as Magic and Mayhem 2, as far as this is just a really good ported into the 3D world game with some considerable enhancements concerning the magician's abilities. There are also more creatures, more spells, more beautiful stuff and total 3D world together with all original unique scope of strategic masterpiece by Mythos Games. I wish there some developer who would have done the same with X-Com!
The size of this demo-version is 84 Mb. You may download it here.
- Yuri Bushin (Yurg-Aga)