||Is the old Myth better then two new ones?
Finally, I have so awaited prequel to the most exciting fantasy strategy game in my hands! As to me, I was shaking in my shoes while inserting the CD into the CD-ROM drive: I closed my eyes tight and tried to launch the game. My first attempt failed. This is my first game that failed to work in XP. Nothing happened, as if I did not launch it at all and did not install it at all. Fortunately, I have my old Win 98 and in this system Myth run quite cheerfully, but, I think you'll agree with me that such an unpleasant accident gives some feeling of resentment.
The game was changed radically. I do not even know whether I should rejoice over this or not. Even the first glance at the starting menu makes you understand that different people had been working at the game! The starting menu resembles a mosaic that tells about past time of great Empire. But, any Myth is better then no Myth at all.
But, I have to state that from the very beginning to our readers, if you have not played the first and the second games of Myth series, you would hardly grasp profundity of this game. It must be played only one after another and not vise versa, starting from the first one and finishing with the third one of the series. Otherwise we will hardly be able to reach an understanding. So, I suggest you to pay a visit to any nearby store and purchase the Myth series!
Have you done your homework? Have you studied mythology through well enough? Okay, then we can go forth.
It is impossible to say that idea of prequel was born in the developers' minds out of nowhere. Mythology of these series is vast and endless up to the extent that it includes events of epochs pasted long ago. Actually it is this moment that has eased the work of the new team and they were not to force the storyline. As far as all the Fallen Lords had perished in the end of the second game of the series it was quite natural from the developers' side to face to the distant past to tell a new story to the fans! Moreover, we have consumed so many Mythical projects by Take 2 - starting from Green Berets and finishing with sets of new levels by users in the special box for certain price (as if we could not download them!?)
On the whole, cover for this candy is quite motley. The main thing is that the developers did not make any principal changes in structure of briefings though. The map is still the same, drawn pictures and the very same mentor's voice of the author to the field diary. Only the map had been seriously changed and became impressive with all relief details, altitudes, river bends and new (i.e. old that have vanished by the times of previous games in the series) locations. I wish these amenities were realized in the previous Myth games! It is here when Myth charms you and allures a player into its world with the tension of its global-scaled events.
Let's now turn to these very events - Myth's universe develops in historical cycles. The dark epoch is changed with the light one, and the good changes the evil. So, once again human world is threatened with danger - in the sky there appeared a comet augural advent of the humankind enemy - The Leveler. It is this very big guy is the heart of darkness. And as have been happening for ages, the Hero resists to him. As in every happy end fairy tale, in every historical cycle of this world, the main malefactor is overthrown from the throne of absolute power by the Hero who then becomes the evil himself; as it happened in the old story telling that a knight fighting with dragons sooner or later himself becomes even the greater evil then those killed by him dragons. Similarly, the Hero takes the Leveler's place and it is the comet that becomes a sign of it. Truly speaking, this theory of the Good and the Evil fighting resembles me that of the universe by Moorcock with his Eternal Hero fated to win the balance between the Chaos and the Law in every epoch and every world.
In Myth 3, the main hero of mentioned above events has not yet become Balor - the supreme Fallen Lord of the first and the second Myth games. Now Connacht and his companions are servants of justice and stymie the Dark side by protecting the humankind from hordes of alive-dead creatures, evil giant and creatures of the Hell - Myrkridia.
During the entire game you will have participated in many historical events, but running a few steps forward, I should say the only thing for now that so typical to many games 'happy end' disappoints. It is kind of hard to say why, but the developers haven't lifted the veil from how Connacht will have become Balor. Myth 3 will not clue mysteries of all Fallen Lords; it will show fate of the only one of them - Deceiver. Perhaps, one should not exclude any possibilities for add-ons that would tell the story about those fatal events that turned the savior to the entire humankind and his friend Damas into the Scourge to the humankind - Balor and the Soulblighter.
All missions in Myth are form five acts exactly as it was in Diablo II. Every act is accompanied with a nice made cartoon that is as good as in the previous Myth games. And it is here where Mumbo Jumbo artists surpassed all imagination!
I should say that if you do not know that the game is based on the modified version of the second Myth game then you can hardly guess. Overall view of the game is that it is a masterpiece of vivid colors! Beautiful landscapes, almost real and transparent water, grass on the ground, small bushes and trees made as 3-dimensional figures, mills, sand winds and bridges - all that is completed with high level of details.
So, the game has suffered striking changes for better, but developers either did not want or could not get rid off some issues. A camera is still very close to the ground and this very fact does not let you "straighten yourself up" and look round. Although, there was added a convenient function to the camera - now you can rotate the camera around any certain point what allows to see an interesting object from all sides without making any useless bodily movements. But another feature - camera auto-adjusting - supposed to be made for easing really makes a lot of problems while in dungeons (these are new kind of maps!) and when a battle is conducted near the wall - cameras start to move chaotically from side to side trying to choose proper scaling that would allow to view a battle.
System of controls remained the same. One can reassign control keys, but as to me, I think the standard layout is very convenient, but I prefer 'select all soldiers' to be reassigned to NumPad 'Enter' from that of main keyboard. But selecting and controlling themselves can make some troubles. While in the previous Myth games one could hold game and control the camera while the game is paused, in this game of the series, i.e. in Myth 3, this feature, I guess, was considered to be a cheating one and it was removed. That would be no problems if there were a possibility to divide the detachment into some groups and give orders with hot keys, but there is no such possibility! Anyone agrees that when one plays the game with high difficulty level any slowdown is equal to failure. So, any Iron Warrior Trow will easily scatter your detachment while you are chaotically poking your fingers into a keyboard trying to rotate a camera to view the whole battle or while you are choosing some warriors from your detachment being unable to control other soldiers. The only thing here is to hope that the developers will release a patch to fix these problems and will restore that feature.
So, I guess it is time to talk about AI in Myth 3. I should say that it is not bad, it is not dull, but it does require serious revision. Here goes an example where AI is not good enough: when you attack enemy troops that do not see you, the computer opponent is not occurred with an idea to move with all troops towards the side where arrows are flying from; cautious and cowardly Soulless are not in a hurry to retreat when a horde of barbarians is rushing to attack them as it was in previous games. As to gnomes then they have become saboteurs in Myth 3. Here and there they are, darkly giggling, doing their best to throw a Molotov cocktail into a group of fighting swordsmen: and as a result, there is a fountain of hands and legs while those who survived dash towards malicious gnomes - a result of this dash is easy to foresee! Among other units known from the previous parts of the series, Wrights have grown stupid. Before they were carefully approaching to the player's troops and chose shortest ways, but now these creatures are idling about the map. Then these creatures were interesting to fight against! One more thing - explosions in previous Myth games were showier - there were more blood and flesh flying around. Here, I guess, one can easily see the work of some committees taking care of mental health of young gamers (formerly, tribe of gamers was stronger in spirit then that of nowadays! :) Although, scenes with bunches of corpses are quite numerous especially after giggling gnomes worked hard!
As far as we started discussion of picture advantages I just have to note how good figures of fighters have become. First of all, as far as I can judge, they are not of sprites anymore but 3d models: but if they are of sprites then I'm capping to the artists! Units in the game are just miraculous. And a model of one heroine - Ravanna - is a true sex-symbol of Myth; one can easily see that the animators have breathed life into her. This girl is a success! As to quantity of units in the game - both: enemy and friendly ones - is bigger then that of units in the both previous games. There are so many creatures now like new giants Trow wearing armors (even before they were a real headache!), leaches with deadly magic, zombies of all kinds, giant spiders and warriors of the Spider's Cult, mages, fireball casters, gnomes etc! As a result, balance of powers has shifted slightly on enemy side as far as enemy is greater in numbers. Old tactics and strategy of conducting battles require to be improved as well as better reflexes are necessary together with a quicker wit to make a decision. More time is required to have missions completed. That is why such elements as forming troops and controlling separate groups on the terrain is even more important here in the prequel then in Myth II.
Meanwhile, battlefields have become bigger in size (about a third bigger), more diverse and it is impossible to win the battle easily! So, one will have to sweat over; fortunately it is possible to choose difficulty level before every mission - that will be some help for novices.
However I am not going to clue all secrets of this game. It is unambiguous that this game is worthy to be played! Although, having some ambiguous moments, this game is really good and is able to captivate you for long days of playing it through. Nonetheless, all games in Myth series suffer the only drawback - when it is played through to the end, one would like to have the next one to play, and I guess, Myth 3 is no exception! And I do hope that it will not be the last piece of these captivating strategy series.
I almost forgot about one more interesting option - the multiplayer mode! Testing of this one deserves extra discussion and I hope this article will see the light of the day. In one word, I should say that this mode is no worse then that of previous game in the series.
Music and sound effects: 9/10
Game controls: 7/10
Graphics and effects: 9/10
Map design: 8.5/10
Balance in the game: 7.5/10
Multiplayer mode: 7/10
Total: 8.06 (Expected: 8.0)
- Yuri Bushin (Yurg-Aga)