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Classic entry in a classic series
Might and Magic is one of the true legends of the fantasy RPG scene, with a number of impressive titles released over the years and Darkside of Xeen generally maintains the series' high standards, making it well worth a look for genre fans. It is however a direct sequel to Clouds of Xeen and completes a narrative arc which began in the original Might and Magic so if you haven't played any previous games you might want to go back to the start to get the most out of it all. Here, the plot revolves six bold adventurers who must venture into the Darkside, the side of the fantasy world of Xeen, as they follow the trail of the lost Prince Roland. Once there, they find themselves caught up in a complex plot involving the usurper Lord Alamar, the powerful Dragon Pharaoh and even a space traveller known as Corak, as they attempt to liberate the land from darkness. It's all fairly complex stuff and if you haven't played the earlier games you will be lost for much of the time. Gameplay-wise, this one uses the same system as Isles of Terra and is actually pretty much identical to Clouds of Xeen so veterans of those games will be right at home, with a familiar mix of questing, exploring and puzzle solving in a 3D environment. There is a greater focus on puzzle solving this time around while the plot also plays a heavier role than previously, with a lot of cutscenes to follow. On the whole, this is a worthy addition to the franchise, with the usual high standards adhered to in terms of graphics, interface and such so for fans this is pretty much a must play. Newcomers however might be advised to look elsewhere for their fantasy thrills, perhaps in the direction of Eye of the Beholder.
The graphics begin to be pretty advanced with this one
If 1 and 2 in the series barely scratched at the idea of first person 3D role playing game, beginning with this 5th title the situation was beginning to orbit around fairly advanced territory. Don't get me wrong, there will still be some time for actually real quality 3D, but nonetheless, the animations are smoother, the RPG combat is more fluid and more tightly animated and the box in which the action is happening is pretty generous, larger than before. What is still a proprietary feature of the game, and of the entire series, and something that could have been addressed by this game, is the use of highly saturated colors, that kind of make these games look as if they're cartoonish, or too cartoonish, as if for children. When in fact, they actually address a pretty evolved, or at least exercised type of RPG player, one that has cut his teeth in some other games. Might and Magic 5 also expends the number of party members to 6, so prepare to really go crazy tactical in some of the bigger battles. One of the better Might and magic games out there!