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Might & Magic IV: Clouds of Xeen (PC) artwork

Might & Magic IV: Clouds of Xeen (PC) review


"Now comes the real slaughter. Might and Magic IV claims to have digitalized speech. What it really contains is a constipated elephant groaning into a microphone."



It's strange really. Might and Magic IV was released amid proclaimations of being the next great Might and Magic game, the newest hit from New World Creations, the game that would launch them at full thrust into the multimedia age.

Instead, the actual gameplay is about equal to Might and Magic III. Nothing significant dealing with gameplay was added, and all of the beauty and gloss present in III is completely absent from Might and Magic IV. And that's not even mentioning the voices... Good lord, the voices...

In typical Might and Magic fashion, there is pretty much no in-game story fashioned, excluding the end. Everything you need for backstory is in the manual. If you don't have a manual... Well, tough cookies. You're thrown into the middle of a town, one which has a rat problem, and you go from there, embarking on various quests. The emphasis in Might and Magic IV, and in the previous games of this series and other series such as Ultima and Advanced Dungeons and Dragons, is gameplay.

And in this area, Might and Magic IV provides all the traditional role playing that you would expect. You create a party of adventures, right down to whether they're male or female, human or a mystical race, and what class they are. You also ''roll'' stats for each character; this determines which character class they can become.

Might and Magic IV is setup in a traditional grid system. All maps consist of a square, or a rectangle, made up of smaller squares. You navagate through these, making use of a very helpful in-game map. Movement is possible in four directions, the primary ones, north, south, east, and west. Monsters are also on the same map, and can be seen and shot at from a distance, before entering a menu based combat screen.

Might and Magic IV features all of the traditional stat crunching and equipment that you'd expect from a PC role playing game. After playing this game, you'll know what a glaive and bardachie are. Some more inventory space would have been nice, as monsters tend to leave a lot of useless items that you end up having to throw away instead of selling, due to the fact that you receive nicer items, or already have decent equipment brandished.

The difficulty in Might and Magic IV isn't anything to scoff at; if you're used to console role playing games, it will definately throw you for a loop. However, it's not radically hard, and the game eases you into its environment with a few cupcake missions at the start of the game.

Unfortunately, all the ''traditional'' elements of the game make for almost no innovation, a common trait throughout the entire Might and Magic series, and most role playing games on the personal computer. If you've played any Ultima, Dungeons and Dragons, or Wizardy game, you know exactly what to expect from this game. There's nothing significantly new.

Well, that is until you get to the presentation values. Graphically, Magic and Magic IV is a BIG step down from the previous installment. All the majestic scenes have been replaced by grainy and gritty ''realistic'' graphics that don't look realistic in the slightest. The enemy animations are the saving grace. They're still excellent.

Now comes the real slaughter. Might and Magic IV claims to have digitalized speech. What it really contains is a constipated elephant groaning into a microphone. That's what the majority of the ''speech'' in Might and Magic IV is. When I first heard the game ''talk'' it scared the hell out of me; I thought someone was behind me, talking through a heavy skimask.

Unfortunately for me, it wasn't, and I was forced to listen to the ''voices'' of the characters until I found the option to turn it all off. At least they had the good sense to include an option to turn it off, but still. When something like this is so bad in a game, it shouldn't be included in the first place. I understand that it was a ''new technology'' at the time, but if you can't do it well, don't do it at all.

Thankfully, the new technology does not spread to the music. I'd much rather deal with the midis of old than some butchery of digitalized music too. If you don't mind midi sound, then you won't mind this game's sound. If not, well then hey, you can turn that off too.

As a result of the presentation values, Might and Magic IV's overall score goes from that of an above average PC role playing game (around a seven) to a strictly run of the mill game. When a game features worse graphics and sound than the game preceding it in a series, it deserves to have its score adjusted accordingly, unless it makes up for it in some other way. Might and Magic IV does not. Therefore, only play this game if you're a fan of the series. If you're not, either play Might and Magic III, or a present day game such as Baldur's Gate.

Rating: 5/10

sgreenwell's avatar
Community review by sgreenwell (Date unavailable)

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