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Might and Magic IX
by Lady Dragon
1st of July, 2002 
Lady Dragon the Image Weaver
The following is only an opinion of the Might and Magic IX game comparing to the previous games in the series and an attempt to analyze some of the game features.
Well ...MM IX is very interesting, of course. Quite too short, but interesting nonetheless. It is very different from its ancestors, firstly because it is based on a completely new engine (Lithtech), and thus - made fully in 3D graphics.

The overall handling of the game could have been better, since all the operations are done by keyboard buttons - the main ones are:

~ Tab     (switching between characters)
~ I         (Accessing your character's inventory)
~ M        (The map of the territory)
~ B         (Spell book of the current selected character)
~ X        (Jumping)
~ C         (Crouching)
~ F        (Formation of the party)
~ Enter   (Turn-Based mode on/off)

There are several buttons for looking up and down, but this is done with far more ease by moving your mouse. You shoot (and do spellcasting) and look around yourself using the mouse only.
Of course, the keyboard could be remapped to resemble the other MM games - MM VI through MM VIII.

Opinion: The change isn't very big, so it will not take you long to adapt to the new style of playing. The movement is still the same - that is the most important thing!

3D Graphics
In my personal opinion, the game would have looked far better with the old, drawn graphics. There are many crudely shaped objects in the game, especially the hands of the characters in videos and normal trees (I don't mean pines. The pines look fantastic).
The houses in the larger cities have been visibly improved, making the player feel like he/she is actually walking in a real town.
The big buildings, like the palaces, really tower above you now, instead of the tiny houses of before.
The creatures that you battle with have been really worked upon. Some of them look like true masterpieces, like the Sea Monster, or the superbly
made Dragonflies, that really haven't changed much, except for some new additions to their tail...
The skeletons are very nice; some of them are even bigger than what you can see, making quite a scary appearance of themselves in great dungeons.

But the pictures that always appeared when in the mid-entrance of some place, like the home pictures of houses, or dungeon images... those are all gone, unfortunately. It is a sad loss, because this made the game so interesting.

Opinion: In my opinion, there still should have been more effort placed into the overall landscape scenario, and they should have placed the NPCs and teachers in houses, where they would not move. Then you wouldn't have to run all round the city, looking for a teacher that you desperately need...

Inventory System
Here it is quite a problem.
The inventory of the old days was far more comfortable, because you could actually place the item where you wanted it to be. Now, you are just a victim of the computer's imagination. The order that you put the objects in the character's inventory, will be the same order they stay.
Unless, of course, you would decide to put all those items to a different character and then start the 're-habilitation' process of the inventory... but it is really quite tedious.

Now, in MM IX you can't switch between characters in the inventory mode when you are fighting someone.
I find this a completely useless addition to the game, because:
~ It doesn't allow you to switch even without the Turn-Based mode
~ Sometimes, the game sort of hangs up. Then, the gem might stay red until you get completely out of the place where you have been, or sleep in a tavern. Or re-load.
It was really quite irritating, trying to switch between the characters (especially when fighting) and trying to pass an item to one another. You can't. That's the problem.

When you are shopping in a local store there is a small change made  you sell the items not by one-time clicking, but through a series of two-clicking minimum...
First you need to select the object, then click on sell, then click on enter to sell... or click on it with your mouse.
There is a way around this, of course - it's much easier, but you will need to be more watchful of what you sell. The keyboard shortcut is Shift and the letter S pressed at the same time. The items will be sold without asking you for your agreement.

Opinion: The type of the inventory system used in MM VI through MM VIII was much better, and far easier to handle.

Spell Book
The number of spells available for using has greatly decreased in MM IX. Before, there was an amount of spells ranging in a 100 number. Now, there are 43 spells.
The system of the spells using is nearly the same - a picture of the spell. Click on it twice, and you'll use it. Click on it once, and click on "Set Quick Spell". It will be your 'active' spell for the moment.

But... the spells now are all listed in only one 'book'. No more different sections for say... Fire and Water.
There is no such magic anymore, as well. Everything has been crammed into four types of magic:
~ Fire, Water, Air, Earth - into Elemental Magic
~ Body, Mind, Spirit - into just Spirit Magic
~ Light stays to be Light, as well as the Dark Magic.
The magical skills that appeared in MM VIII are now gone - the magic that was the specialty of the race - Dark Elf, Vampire, and Dragon.

The spells are now listed in the order that you have learned them, making it quite difficult to track changes. If you have the first page of the spell book full, a new spell might disrupt the whole placement that you got used to...

Opinion: The Spell Book has been better before, in the old games. Now, it makes a real mess of things, especially if all in your party are magic-oriented. But the greatest disadvantage is that you cannot see for how long does the protection (or some other) spells that you have cast on yourself are working. This is very uncomfortable, since you might often forget a spell that you have already cast on yourself, or the other way around.

There are only four races available in the game for game-play - Human, Elf, Dwarf, and Half-Orc.
All other races are gone.

Opinion: The variety of races never hurt anyone, but hey - in MM VI, you could play only with humans!
This is a change, but only with the addition of the Half-Orc class. Otherwise, it is not something terrible that might spoil the entire game. But the Dragon from MM VIII will be solely missed.

You can't fire any NPCs that might have joined your party anymore. They are a permanent feature of the party now, so choose carefully about whom you hire...

Opinion: Bad. This is downright bad, because the spells that you hire the NPCs for usually don't work. Town Portal never did, anyway.

Your Party
It consists of four characters, and if counting your three available places for the NPCs, then you will be able to walk around in Chedian with seven heroes. It is interesting, but turns to be much too easy - sort of like playing MM VIII with four Dragons in your party. There are many promotions to choose from - two possible paths in the beginning, when you pick Initiate or Fighter. Then it is a choice:

Initiate: Scholar to Mage or Lich
            Healer to Druid or Priest
Fighter: Mercenary to Gladiator or Assassin
            Crusader to Paladin or Ranger

(These are all the available promotions in the game. Italic marks the initial class that you must pick in the very beginning of the game.)

Paladins and Rangers are able to learn magic skills, as before. All of the upper classes in the Initiate's class are full adepts in magic.

Some New Additions
There are new things in the game - for example, you are able to crouch, make a party's formation...
Now, your accuracy with the mouse pointer really seems to affect the damage received by the opponent.
There are dogs and cats living in the cities now. A geese in one place of the game, along with a sheep in the other. A whole zoo, it seems.   :)

Finally... The End

The game isn't really that long. When you get your second promotion for all the characters, you get to be very powerful. Then the game starts to go downhill in difficulty, proving to be hard only in places that contain puzzles.
The game is interesting in its developing story line, of course. It leaves you puzzled, curious, and anxious to play on for many days.
But after the second time of playing the game, it gets quite boring. If you are playing it solo, it is very hard - no matter the class of your character.

You should definitely buy this game if you have been interested by its story, screenshots and the overall playing view. If you are just starting to play, it will prove to be a most interesting experience - even for a seasoned player of RPG games. It is a nice sequel to the Might and Magic series, yes. Quite challenging in the beginning, when you are just starting to develop your party.

But I still consider MM VI and MM VII to be the best, no matter what. Those were longer, and much more varied in events and difficulty.

~*~ Lady Dragon the Image Weaver ~*~