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Dark Messiah of Might & Magic
(hx) 10:41 AM EST - Nov,25 2006

Developed by Arkane Studios (Arx Fatalis makers), Dark Messiah of Might & Magic is a first-person action game that utilizes an enhanced version of the Source Engine, the technology Valve created to power Half-Life 2. The game takes place in Might and Magic fantasy world. You play the role of a young man named Sareth who wishes to find adventure and riches in the world. You are the pupil to the wizard Phenrig; Sareth's adventures lead you the city of Stonehelm to aid in the recovery of a mystic object known as "The Skull of Shadows".

Dark Messiah of Might & Magic allows you to choose your own paths in terms of character development. Each time you complete an objective, you will earn skill points, which you can spend to acquire new abilities, skills and spells. Thanks to these skills, you can adopt different play styles ranging from mage to warrior, archer and assassin. The skills are, for the most part, balanced, though some are obviously more useful than others. There are not fixed classes though, as you can arrange you skills the way you want, choosing to grow, for instance your warrior and mage skills.

The single-player game contains ten straightforward levels (locations include a temple, a city, catacombs, caves and a boat), in which you have given objectives to complete. These objectives tend to have you working your way along paths filled with enemies and relatively simplistic puzzles - chop this rope, climb that ladder, push a giant catapult-like-ladder to break into the castle, etc. The game also throws a few jumping puzzles at you, and in true first-person jumping-puzzle fashion, they are very annoying. The level design is real letdown here. In many scenarios, you are simply never quite sure where you have to go. Sometimes it's because of unclear mission objectives, while in others it's because of confusing layouts.  Usually the end of the level will contain either a prize, an artefact of some sort, or a boss, like a cycloptic ogre.

The fighting in Dark Messiah of Might & Magic is fast, brutal, and satisfying. Everything is in a first person view, and you will be practice plenty of killing while up close to your enemies. While Dark Messiah of Might & Magic seems similar at first to The Elder Scrolls: Oblivion in terms of first person melee combat, you'll soon find that the combat system in Dark Messiah of Might & Magic is far more varied and challenging. A variety of moves and combat tactics are available throughout, from kicking enemies into fires and spiked walls, to slicing a rope to unleash a torrent of barrels from a platform above, to straight out sword fighting with a variety of foes ranging from human guards to spiders, and many far larger things. You can also acquire numerous fire and ice attacks, as well as telekinesis and some handy health replenishment skills. To vary the combat, there are also a few boss battles thrown in, like taking down a cyclops or fleeing a giant worm along a precarious cliff path. Those fights can be a little more involved, but the artificial intelligence makes even these monsters relatively easy to beat.

If you are bored of the single player campaign, you can always fire up the multiplayer component of this game, which is quite interesting. Developed by Kuju Entertainment, Dark Messiah of Might & Magic has a comprehensive multiplayer component set-up with support for up to 32 players in the battle at once. In here, you are not stuck with a single race class. There are five player classes to choose from: Assassins, Knights, Priests, Mages and Archers, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. The game offers Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, and Crusade modes can be played on a range of five maps. In Crusade mode you'll play as two teams: humans and the undead, in an attempt to capture territory and reach the base of the other team. As victories are won, the next map will be loaded and battle will continue again. The deeper the team gets into an enemy's territory, the tougher it gets to progress because there are more defenses to aid the defenders. A character can level up and gain skills over the course of the campaign, so new skills and abilities carry over to the next battle. In effect, a character becomes tougher and more powerful.

One of the biggest problems with Dark Messiah of Might & Magic is the bugs, the crashes, and the freeze-ups. Pay a visit to any relevant forum and, while a significant number of people seem to have encountered very few or no issues at all, you'll also find hundreds of disgruntled users complaining about freezes on loading screens, crashes, etc. A patch has been released which promises a list of fixes but looks like gamers still continue to have performance issues and crashes. From my own experience with this game, I have only encountered a few minor bugs. But that does not mean I can ignore the bug reports. Let us just hope that Arkane will release a new patch soon, which they have promised they will, which will fix all the major issues with this game.

Graphics and sound are good, assuming you get the game to run smoothly. The game utilizes Valve's Half-Life 2 Source engine, so in-game models look excellent and you can observe first-rate lighting effects, superb animation and solid physics. On my PC (Athlon 3500+/1GB RAM/6800GT) the game suffered from such severe jerkiness that it was rendered completely unplayable. In the end, I turned off just about all the advanced graphical effects (ignoring the suggested higher settings), at which point, the game played okay, but looked a bit impoverished (take a look at the screenshots). Fortunately, it was still enjoyable.

Despite all its faults, I cannot bring myself to say that Dark Messiah of Might & Magic is a bad game or even a broken one. It has problems, and I think the story is a lackluster effort, but it is fun to play through once. I would recommend it to all RPG/FPS fans who are looking for something to pass the time.

related links: homepage, demo, patch v1.1, cheats, trainer +14, trainer +5, Ubisoft forum (technical problems), Troubleshooting Tips, Dark Messiah of Might & Magic DVD

System requirements:
Minimum: Processor: 2.2 GHz CPU, 512MB RAM, 128MB video card, 6+GB HDD Space
Recommended: 3GHz CPU, 1GB RAM. 256MB DX9 video card


Note: The Texture Detail setting is of critical significance to Dark Messiah, and is the cause of much of the long loading times and stuttering issues in the game. Unlike older Source games like Half Life 2, Dark Messiah uses a lot of very rich, varied and detailed textures for object, character and environment surfaces. The higher the texture setting, the higher the resolution and size of these images used for surfaces, and hence the longer they take to load up from your hard drive, take up more space in memory, and as you wander around they will constantly load up, causing stutter and pauses. On some systems this constant swapping of data also leads to crashes to desktop. So on systems with less than 2GB of RAM and/or slow hard drives and/or a graphics card with only 128MB of Video RAM I strongly recommend using the Medium texture setting or even Low.


snd: 4/5 - sound effects are appropriately responsive, music is rare but effective
gfx: 4/5 - pretty good - Source engine, solid physics model (although physics on the ropes looks ugly), excellent HDR lighting, good death animations, uninspired level design
playability: 4/5 - satisfying brutal combat, annoying jumping-puzzle, interesting multiplayer (DM, TDM, Crusade), long loading times, TOO MANY BUGS!
genre: first-person action/RPG
release: October 2006
developer: Arkane Studios/Kuju Entertainment
publisher: Ubisoft
Very_good
Overall: 79%


last 10 comments:

Smiley_ie(11:57 AM EST - Nov,25 2006 )
Im 3/4 way through in the game and i think its a great game, very suprised its getting low scores ? but im playing it on a 4600 x 2, 2 gig, x1950xtx

constantinos_rho(12:28 PM EST - Nov,25 2006 )
the game is very good with cool moves and very nice graphics and sound. i don't understand why in many sites the overall score is lower than 70%.

Nosferatu(12:29 PM EST - Nov,25 2006 )
HX, the gfx and playability lines are identical.

(12:39 PM EST - Nov,25 2006 )
Nosferatu> HX, the gfx and playability lines are identical.

thanks man! Fixed

xxxx(06:40 PM EST - Nov,25 2006 )
Well as far as I was concerned, the game was great but overall wayyyyy tooooo shoooooort. Had great gfx, finished this game in a few nights and I think I played at normal skill level and really owned. I don't even think I came close to dying, lmao, sure I did a few times. I think the score is justified.

To further elaborate, the inventory system sucked and MP is still extremely unbalanced. If there were no mages in MP it would be more fun for me. Perhaps a mod..? Hope so. I expected more and longer quests and more creatures. The bosses or the big dudes. Each one, if you were dumb you took em on head on, however if you were smart you could easily trap the big guy and finish him off with arrows if you wanted and he couldn't touch you. I thought that was just bad. If the environment was more destructable it would have made for much cooler things. Remember once the guy picks up the rock and moves it?? That was the 'only' time they had worthwhile AI.

Good quality release overall... 8/10 I give it. Just don't think you'll be playing for a month. Try a weekend and a bit. I was entertained and look forward to the next installment.

darknothing(07:15 PM EST - Nov,25 2006 )
i agree the game was to short and the MP seamed to be nothing but a mod of hl2

great game tho i played it 3 times. i hope they make another

Safer(07:41 PM EST - Nov,25 2006 )
Fantastic game! I am yet to finish it though >_>

How about a bug that kills the game every time you try and load the very last area.

*sad panda*

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