Before I get started I want to put a little disclaimer here. No matter what I might dip into in the following paragraphs, at the end of the day this game broke about even for me. How good is it? Depends on what kind of mood I'm in. I think it's got a fairly even split of good and bad, so it's okay. I wouldn't go so far to describe it as a love/hate thing. That's far too generous. Most of my opinion is based on a part of the game that will most likely vary from person to person. So there's that.
Might and Magic: Clash of Heroes (RPG Puzzle Combat LOADING: The Game) Arrrrggh. This just about sums up my experience with this game. Lots of groaning, lots of profanity, and a fair share of middle fingers. I've posted before about what I think of the difficulty in this game, so I'll summarize it by comparing it to the world's most schizophrenic roller coaster. Sometimes I can waltz through battles without trying. Most of the time I get curb stomped. Every now and then I have fun. Maybe. It depends if the random number generator is feeling merciful. Most of the time I find it's pretty vengeful.
Might and Magic: Clash of Heroes is a weird RPG puzzle combat game that originally came out on the DS. The version I played was the XLBA release in HD, but I'm totally not sorry that I missed it the first time. If I found it then I would have been pissed off and frustrated sooner. But I'll try to tone down the anger from here on in. The one thing I can be glad of is that Clash of Heroes taught me that I have no stomach for this kind of game, no matter how many times I keep coming back to replay it.
How to Play The way you play this game is managing a spread of units on a 8x6 grid trying to make columns or rows of 3 matching colored units to attack and defend while an opponent tries to do the exact same thing across from you. You only get three moves each turn (for the most part) to juggle your forces, so there is an element of thinking ahead. To mix this formula up you also have special units of larger sizes that have special abilities and cause more damage. Not to mention Heroes (more like generals) who have magic attacks that charge up from taking damage. The goal of the game is to get your units to the other side of the board to cause damage to the enemy hero. First one to hit 0 HP loses. I admit I'm having a lot of trouble describing it in a paragraph... but the game's tutorial is solid enough to get you in on the basic rules. Not to mention Giant Bomb has a Quick Look if you want to see things in motion.
On a higher layer up, you have five different factions with different stats and special items to give you a lot of room to find the playing style you prefer. For example, if you like the Glass Cannon strategy (paper thin defense but bunker busting offense) then you'll probably like the Undead with the Spider's Cowl. If protective walls are your very best friend, then the Elves have regenerating defenses. There's a lot of opportunity to mix it up. And if you play through the campaign mode (which is required to unlock more heroes and all the special items) you'll get very familiar with what each faction has to offer. It's a nice set up in concept.
The schizophrenic part that I mentioned earlier comes with the randomly generated unit spread. Most of the time the Computer AI will get the best set ups while I have to dig out my special units or waste several turns playing catching up or wasting attacking opportunities to hastily construct walls so I'm not obliterated in a single turn. Every now and then (after I restart enough times) I'll get a good spread where I can actually stand a chance. This makes most of the boss confrontations laughable jokes and minor enemies unstoppable killing machines. If you asked me if I'm good at this game I couldn't tell you. I beat it. Although that doesn't mean anything.
Campaign Mode The heart of this game is the five different campaigns that make up story mode. But the story is definitely not the game's strength. Now, I'm not well versed in the Might and Magic series but this puzzle game spin off is standard fantasy through and through. Prophecies, magical weapons, demon invasions, "Blood Moon Eclipse", elves that use nature, middle children that become evil... if you've heard of it before you can find it in this game. I know there is an audience for that, but this game doesn't really take itself serious enough to call it straight faced. You can look forward to an awkward, heavy handed Smokey the Bear reference in the first campaign. The second campaign quotes a few lines from Deliverance word for word, and all kinds of other shit like that. I''m one of those types that hate pop culture references in works of fantasy so it was especially painful to sit through. I admit it won't ruin the game forever, but it hits an especially sour note for me. The characters are okay I guess. They don't have very strong personalities but they have just enough to drive the plot.
I will say that if you're looking for a game to last you awhile, Clash of Heroes' campaign will not disappoint. By the time I beat it, the game clock was 30 hours or so. It probably would have taken longer if I accepted more losses like a good sport instead of immediately quitting out and reloading my save file. Which brings me to the more subjective part of this blog. Due to the randomness of unit spreads and reinforcements, the leveling system and difficulty means jack shit. A level 5 side mission might take you to task over and over again like they were a bonus boss. And then you'll get to a real boss and steamroll them in one try. It all depends how the random chance of this game will treat you. Maybe you'll get lucky and never run into this problem. Maybe you'll get unlucky and feel like the game is pulling this every single battle. You can also look forward to some fucking unfair battles to compound this in the very last campaign where you get three zingers back-to-back without a single chance to save- at the very start. The game has some pacing problems, that much I can be sure of.
Loading Loading LoadingI usually don't stress graphics or loading screens when it comes to gaming... but I do have to mention them because holy shit... this game has some loading screens out the ass. I don't know if it's the cost of HD graphics or something to do with the transition to XBLA, but if a loading screen pops up every time you change screens, start a battle, end a battle, start a cutscene, end a cutscene, or press a button on the start screen to access the menu- I don't think it justifies the cost. And if you have to restart battles as much as I did all this adds up in no time flat. Now, the animations for the larger units do look pretty cool like the Angel's holy beam of death and the Ghost's opening scream before she lays into the enemy... but I would be willing to sacrifice them just to get a smoother running experience. Loading screens are pretty ridiculous in this game and it's not even running off a disc.
So... what? Good? Bad? (Psst. What about Multiplayer?)Dude, I don't know. I've been up and down so much on this game that I just want to get through this blog. There's local and online multiplayer, but if the campaign is any indication I'm pretty sure I would go out and murder someone if I lost to a real life person. The godsend of fighting a computer AI is that they never rub it in your face. They never talk and they never comment on your playing abilities (I'm sure there are plenty of exceptions). This game does bad enough things to me that the last thing I need is someone throwing fuel on the fire with a bad joke or a snide comment about my strategy.
So, yeah. This game is okay.