Review: Might & Magic X – Legacy (PC)

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Might & Magic X – Legacy
Publisher: Ubisoft
Developer: Ubisoft
Genre: RPG
Release Date: 01/23/2014

Back in the day, a western RPG just wasn’t a western RPG unless it was in first-person and involved moving along a grid. This style allowed for the creation of several great dungeon crawlers, most notably Eye of the Beholder. For years, the Might & Magic used this formula to a decent amount of success. More recent entries have switched to a more modern style. To celebrate the tenth official entry in the core series, Ubisoft has returned it to that first-person dungeon crawling of old. X – Legacy is undoubtedly old school. But is it any good?

So there’s a small bit of setup to this game before it drops you into the world of quests and sub-quests. You play as a group of “raiders” who’ve pledged to deliver the ashes of their fallen mentor to the peninsula of Agyn. Trouble is, Agyn is in on the brink of absolute war. Your mentor is quickly forgotten as you get swept up in schemes and more schemes. It’s all in the name of getting paid and finding loot.

mightmagicx1The story here is simple and to the point. Characters don’t say much beyond a few scripted lines, there are very few choices for the characters to make, and the overall story will play out pretty much the same for everyone. It’s serviceable, but not really interesting.

You start the game off by creating your party. You have the choices of going full custom, using a standard set, or going completely random. There are four races with variants of the same three classes to choose from. For example, the human archmage is comparable to the dwarven runemaster. The are slight differences of course, dealing with racial bonuses and the like. Having a balanced team is essential. You’ll need a spellcaster to buff your strong man as much as you’ll need the strong man to tank for the caster. More importantly, there are a number of spells that make the game a whole lot easier if you can cast the. Invest in earth magic, my friends, or spend a fortune on antidotes.

The game gives you a quest to start you off, and then pretty much lets you run wild. There are story quest that move the game forward, as well as sub-quests that earn you extra loot or possibly even a class promotion. While there is no specific order that you have to follow, certain areas will be locked off until you do the right quest. For example, you can’t get to the second city until you’ve completed the first act. On the other hand, there’s a cave filled with a shadow dragon a few steps from the starting city. Trust me. You can’t take him.

mightmagicx2Visually, the game is a bust. It looks like something you’d expect out of a game from more than ten years ago. Even if you don’t use the fancy option that pixelizes everything, the world is an inconsistent mess. Character models vary in quality, dungeons look much clearer than the open world, some monsters look great, other monsters look like cheap action figures, etc. I personally encountered a number of odd visual glitches as well. For starters, I had enemies that danced in circles when they tried to move, I had a character portrait disappear, and I had water effects that looked like something out of an acid trip. The game didn’t look good to begin with, but these bugs certainly don’t help.

Aurally, the game is mostly low key. Most of the sounds you’ll hear are your own footsteps permeated by the sounds of battle. Music does pop in from time to time, but it’s generic fantasy game music that won’t leave an impression. The voice acting varies, but the constant quips your characters make quickly grow old. I’d suggest turning them off so you don’t have to hear, “Looks like they smelled us. Who forgot to take a bath?”, fifty times over. Honestly, I’d say you’re much better off playing the game without sound entirely.

If you’ve played more recent first-person RPGs, then this game might give you a bit of a culture shock. You see, this is a turn-based game from start to finish. Your four characters all occupy a single square on a grid. When you step forward, time moves forward. If you stay still, time stands still. Thus, you must take each step individually. It’s certainly not smooth, but it does allow for a quick transition into the game’s turn-based battles.

Battling is what this game is all about. If you’re not in a fight, you’re on your way to one. When an enemy spots you, the game switches over to combat mode. You and your enemies take turns trying to kill each other. All of your characters can act on your turn in whichever order you choose. For example, you could attack with your two melee characters first, switch to your mage, use a knock back spell to push the enemy back, and then switch to the ranger and fire off an arrow. With that same setup, you could instead use the mage first to cast a buff, and then attack with your other troops.

mightmagicx3Here’s where things get perhaps a bit too archaic. You can only attack enemies that are in a direct line from you. This means that you can’t fire an arrow at a distant enemy if he is even one square to the right or left. The same goes for your enemies as well, so often the setup to battle involves everyone getting into the right axis before things can really get going. This limits your options and seems oppressively illogical. While it may work all right for the narrow confines of a dungeon, it makes no sense for the right open expanses of a meadow.

Keeping track of your character is quite easy, thanks to a simple character sheet. You have your basic stats, such as might, magic, and vitality. Every level, you get some points to allot to any of these stats as you see fit. Then there are your skills. Every skill is either a weapon skill, magical affinity, or some sort of passive boost. You can put points in these as you deem fit. For example, you can dump all of your barbarian’s skill points into using a mace, or you can split them between the mace and the ax. Each skill has to be trained by an NPC once it reaches a certain point, and you won’t be able to put any points into it until you do so. This means you’ll have to find and keep track of the people you meet so that you can train whenever you need to rather than simply dump the points elsewhere.

Items and equipment are kept track of in a shared inventory. Characters have slots for weapons, armor, and accessories that can be swapped out on the fly, even in battle. While you can set items and skills as hot keys, you can access them from the character sheet at any time as well. That means you don’t have to worry if you forgot to equip your cure poison spell before heading into the cave of poisonous spiders.

mightmagicx4If you’re the kind of person that misses the type of challenge these types of games could bring, you’re in for a treat. If you like the amenities of modern RPGs, stay far, far away. The bottom line is that you have no warning if an enemy is way above your pay grade. If it is, you’re stuck fighting it to the bitter end. You can’t escape, and you’ll have to hope you saved recently. Tough enemies can be right around the corner, so trying to stick to the beaten path doesn’t really work. If someone gets poisoned, you’ll need to either cure them with a potion/spell, or run into town and find a priest. Until then, they’ll take massive amounts of damage with each step, even if you rest. Even the smallest of enemies seems to have a heck of a lot more health than you, and you have no way of bringing back an unconscious ally unless you have a healing spell. That means no jamming potions down their throats. Enemies don’t respawn ever, so you can’t grind for levels to get past a tough spot. You’ve got to keep trying until the dice rolls go in your favor. It boils down to you will die a lot. If you’re OK with that, fine. If not, you will hate this game to no end.

What this game is, is archaic. While there are a smattering of modern amenities, such as the ability to save anywhere, you’re pretty much stuck in a bygone age of gaming from the moment you start this game. Rather than upgrade the genre and better it, Ubisoft has gone for a staunchly traditional title. This means you’ll likely already know if you’ll like it. Do you want a game that is exactly like something you played in the nineties? Well then good news! This isn’t a bad thing and it isn’t a good thing. It just is. Legacy certainly won’t expand the genre’s fanbase, but it might appeal to the most hardcore portion of it.

Short Attention Span Summary

Might & Magic X – Legacy certainly lives up to the name. It’s all about the legacy. It’s a throwback to the days of old, when dungeoneering was a painful learning process. They systems in play are old school, often to a fault. Drab visuals, generic story, and forgettable music don’t do the game any favors either. Still, this kind of game has its audience, and they will surely love the unforgiving nature and brutal difficulty. If that’s not your thing, you won’t enjoy this game. If it is your thing, well then enjoy this trip down memory lane.

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