All right, I'm not a big RTS / "over the head" game kinda guy. I like fast paced, in your face graphics with intense gameplay. So naturally, when I received Magic & Mayhem: The Art of Magic
from Bethesda Softworks
, I was a little reluctant to play it. Nevertheless, I popped the CD in, hit install and was in for quite a surprise from there.
Magic has ravaged the Earth and a man only known as the 'Magistrator' took it into his own hands to set things straight again. He concealed the magics of the Earth into three magic orbs; they possess the power of law, chaos and neutral.
"The whole thing just reminded me too much of Braveheart..."
The orbs were sent out to the far reaches of the Earth and each given to a respectable tribe for safe keeping; each tribe had their own power and respected the others'. Until one day, the Magistrator died and an unknown magical explosion destroyed the neutral orb and then all hell broke lose. The chaos rulers saw this as their chance to take to power and are amassing their armies in Albion, just north of Olicano where a man named Aurax lives. We follow this young man as he comes of age, and this is where our story begins.
At first glance, The Art of Magic
) is just like every other RTS game on the market... You move your character by pointing to the spot on the ground you want him to go, cast spells on bad guys and go from one point of the map to the other to meet another character who will help you in your quest. Though AoM
does not put forth anything ground breaking, there are a few neat features present.
For starters, the magic system. In your possession, you have a spell book called a portmanteau, with this, spell ingredients can be combined with talismans and varying the talismans varies the spell that is created. This is, by far, AoM
's most attractive feature.
Next, the game is fully rendered in 3D - characters, landscapes and all! This is something that really impressed me, as I'm a sucker for a pretty face
. The particle system in AoM
is really well done, and is very evident in spell casting which you'll have to use in the many fights that you'll get yourself into.
Something that really grabs you about this game, is the attention to detail -- right away you can see the gorgeous textures that have been applied to the landscapes. Down to the fluidity of the lakes and rivers to the branches and leaves on the trees.
However, one peculiar thing about the graphics is the less than stellar character models. For the main character, Aurax, he certainly doesn't fit the roll of your archetypal hero. Spending a little more time on improving the polygon count of the models (and some of the buildings) would really've helped. But I'm nit-picking here...
Another prize tidbit worth mentioning here, are the sound effects in AoM
. Down to the cursor clicks on screen or the crackling of fresh timber in the fire; everything has it's own unique and characteristic sound. Heh, I was even impressed by the Sean Connery impersonation in Eamus and Jeddon's voices; though I can't say that I liked it. Heck, I can't say that I liked the whole Irish / Scottish accent theme of the game voices (though I have nothing
against them). Personally, I didn't think it suited the game very well.
The whole thing just reminded me too much of Braveheart (not that I disliked that movie either)...
The AI in the game, is something else. As you progress through the game and conceivably grow more powerful, so do your enemies. Not only do they get stronger though, they also get smarter
. They try to outwit you in battle and counter your attacks that they've learned while battling you in the past. In other words, you're going to have to think of different tactics for this RTS than your normal 'use brute force to win the day' theory.
One down side to this game, is that there is nothing revolutionary about it. Nothing really makes me jump out of my chair and say 'WOW!'. Things have definitely improved from the previous Magic & Mayhem
but that's about it; they've cleaned things up and made adjustments but haven't created anything that makes this game truly unique. Though, it isn't always necessary to reinvent the wheel, and why mess with a good thing?
All in all, this game was fun to play. I can't say that I've got a hankering for the RTS games, but this is one of the few that I've actually enjoyed playing through. Nice job Bethesda!