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Lora's CRPG Reviews: Might and Magic 9
Might and Magic 9 (Game release date: 2002)
Decent but non-compelling old-school CRPG.
Buy This Game: Buy This Game
||Highlights: Cleverly designed old-school dungeons, fun skill-based character advancement|
||Lowlights: Dull plot, generic feel, tedious interface chores
This isn't a bad game, but I'd really been hoping for more. Like the higher-quality Wizardry 8,
Might and Magic 9 was aiming squarely at the nostalgia factor, but its execution hobbled it. MM9 does have a lot of quests, many more than Wiz8, but too
many of them are FedEx quests and only three or four of them have any consequences at all. Stop the endless winter in one city, and you'll get your XP all right,
but it will still snow there 24/7, and the residents will all still complain that they're starving to death and wish someone would help them. Gee, that's satisfying.
The plot is linear and uninspired, the gameworld is ho-hum, and the interface saddles you with endless familiar chores to perform: repairing broken
objects, identifying things, switching the character with the highest score in any given skill to be the one to attempt a task.
What keeps Might and Magic 9 from being truly mediocre is the ingenuity of the dungeons, whose tricks and traps are as fresh and fun as those in
previous Might and Magic installments. Character creation and development is above average for a CRPG, too, with an interesting skill-based
points system and character class advancement paths. There are impressive artifacts to be found, and daunting monsters to be slain. But the
Might and Magic series hasn't had anything really new to offer us since MM6. There's no real reason this game exists except "Because
we're a franchise," there's no real reason I played it except "Because it was there," and there's no real motivation for the characters to
do anything except "Because I might find another red barrel to drink if I do." If those are the only expectations you go in with, you'll come out happy;
the dungeon rompery is as good as you'll find anywhere. If you were hoping for something that would capture your imagination in any way at all, Might
and Magic 9 is not the place to look for it.
The Might and Magic Series: Might and Magic 9 is part of a long-running series of adventure CRPG's that started
back in 1986. Your characters are not portable from game to game, and there is no continuity of plot at all--these are simply campaigns
that take place on different planets in the same game universe (and indeed, nearly every one ends with the trusty party discovering the spaceflight
technology of the Ancients). You do not need to play any of them before playing the next. If you're interested in the Might and Magic series in
general, though, you can purchase the entire collection in two convenient CD sets:
Might and Magic Compilation (Might and Magic 1-5) and
and Platinum Edition (Might and Magic 6-9).
The earliest Might and Magic games (1-3) take an enthusiastic love of the classics to play; 4 and 5 (Worlds of Xeen) are dated but still fun,
and 6, 7, and 8 are relatively modern and frankly just as good as 9 is.
Finding Might and Magic 9: You can still find this game on the discount rack at some software stores, or you can
buy it online quite inexpensively. If you're already
a fan of the series, you may prefer to get the
Might and Magic Platinum Edition
which includes not only Might and Magic 9, but games 6, 7, and 8 as well--a good bargain.
Getting Might and Magic 9 to Work: Might and Magic 9 is a recent game and ought to be plug-and-play.
There are a few bugs in the game, but they are all things like the compass not functioning, a magic item not doing what it's supposed to,
or treasure chests yielding items over and over again whenever you open them. I didn't encounter any bugs that caused my game to crash.
Hints For Might and Magic 9: I do not have a walkthrough page for MM9 myself (it is a very linear plot and would not
benefit much from my low-spoiler treatment). There is a terrific hints page at UHS which
reveals only one hint at a time, so you won't accidentally learn the answers to future puzzles while scanning for the one you're stuck on. You could also
buy the Might and Magic IX Hint Book if you want more
information such as maps.
Game Length: Between 40-80 hours, depending how much extra exploration you like to do.
Age-Appropriateness: This game is rated T (for 13 years old and up) for some mild animated violence (including
cutscenes of NPC deaths). No sex, nudity, or disturbing themes.
Lora's Might and Magic IX Review: (Pretty Good)
Plot and Quests: The main plot involves uniting six clans against an evil overlord;
you have no choices to make along this path, just complete two quests for each leader. There are plenty of side quests as well, but none of them offers
any flexibility or multiple solutions. The villain is an idiot and the twists at the end are fairly contrived.
Puzzles and Mental Challenges: The saving grace of this game is its dungeons, many of which
have the elegant design, clever puzzles, and innovative features that have long been a Might and Magic hallmark. Annoyingly, some of them are timed,
including one that's nearly impossible to complete in the allotted time with the game interface that's been provided.
Characters: You get four PCs in Might and Magic 9, each of which is fairly well customizable (including
a voiceset, which can be customized to fit your concept of their basic personality). There are a limited number of available portraits, and because they are animated,
new portraits cannot be imported. You can also add up to three NPCs to your party, but except for a pre-scripted plot with the first NPC you meet,
NPCs never say or do anything besides conferring their bonuses upon you and getting in the way during combat.
Gameworld: This game is set in the same universe all the previous Might and Magic and
Heroes of Might and Magic games were, but other than a silly cameo by Prince Nicolai Ironfist, this is irrelevant. The most distinctive element
of previous M&M installments was the inevitable discovery of firearms and space ships at the end of each game, thus linking each world to the next.
Might and Magic 9 lacks this formulaic ending, which is probably to its credit, since it was getting mighty stale; however, without it, it's even
more clear that the setting is just a generic fantasy gameworld with the standard fantasy races.
Gameplay (Leveling, Spells, etc.): The game mechanics have not changed since Might and Magic VI,
but they were good then, and they're still good now: character abilities are skill-based, and the rules for raising skill levels are sound, well-balanced,
and unique to this series. Too much of the gameplay is spent on uneventful travel and unwanted combats with useless wandering monsters.
Interface (Movement, Inventory Management, etc.): Movement controls are fine and the
interface is tolerable, but full of endless tedious tasks to perform (such as moving, one by one, items from one character's inventory to another's for repair and back--they
sometimes break every time a character sustains a hit). A few sensible shortcuts would have improved the controls tremendously.
Ambience (Graphics, Sound, etc.): The audio is OK and the 3D graphics look pretty good (especially the
monsters.) Unfortunately there are only a few townspeople graphics, reused over and over again, and their comments do not change based on the goings-on of the
world around them, so the world can seem populated by robots much of the time. (It doesn't help that humans in this game all have the unnerving tic of constantly
moving their bodies around while their faces remain fixed in an unblinking, grinning mask.)
Lora's Recommendations: There's nothing very original in this game, and I wouldn't go out of my way to recommend it to anyone;
it's such a retread of things we all played years ago. I recommend Shadows of Amn or
Wizardry 8 instead. That said, I did finish this game, and it was entertaining in places.
If you liked MM7 and MM8, or you're a CRPG enthusiast in general, it may be worth a try, espeically if you buy it at discount. For $5, you're sure to get your entertainment
value out of this game, and it does make a nice diversion on a rainy afternoon.
If You Loved Might and Magic IX: Then you should get the
Might and Magic Platinum Edition, which includes the three previous
Might and Magic 3D adventures. For more neoclassic fun, try Wizardry 8,
which not only does a very good job evoking the nostalgia of games past but also provides a smooth, intuitive interface to do it with. Two quality modern CRPG's
you may really enjoy include Shadows of Amn, which has more interesting quests and more
NPC interaction than any two other games combined, and Morrowind,
a rather freeform game with highly customizable characters and a huge gameworld to explore. Two other quirky but intriguing CRPG's that may appeal to you are
the macho steampunk fantasy Arcanum and the innovative post-apocalyptic
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