GAMING: Heroes of Might and Magic 5

Heroes of Might and Magic 5 is not a new game, but it's definitely a great bargain-bin find nowadays.

For those unaware, the Heroes of Might and Magic (HOMM) series falls into the relatively obscure turn-based strategy genre. Typically, you have a town, one or more heroes, and every turn you control your heroes to battle opponents using a wide variety of fantasy units, which depend on the type of town you have.

Times have been tough for HOMM; its beloved developer sold the rights of the HOMM franchise to Ubisoft in bankruptcy and HOMM5 is the result. HOMM5 is very underappreciated if its bugginess can be forgiven, it's worth the ten dollars I paid to download it (legally). Sadly, a sequel appears unlikely for the time being.

If you're a fan of the HOMM franchise, you will feel right at home with the fifth iteration. In fact, there are few new substantive changes: first, each town type has their own special game mechanic, like "Dark Energy" for Necropoli that allows hereoes to raise a certain number of enemies as undead units after a successful battle; second, the game is now in 3-D; and finally, it provides a choice of upgrades for each unit type, not just one, which allows for a little more army specialization.

Unfortunatly, with Ubisoft's takeover of the franchise, nothing really new was incorporated into the game. That's really unfortunate because HOMM's player and fan base is so small. HOMM fans like their strategy games to come with spreadsheets and manuals as thick as the cardboard game boxes they come in. The action is still very slow and methodical - build town, hire units every week, gather some resources, kill some creeps...?...profit. If you're not already a fan of HOMM, and you don't like comparing cost-to-benefit ratios between peasants and gremlins, you're unlikely to enjoy Heroes 5 or any of its expansion packs.

Still, for those of us bargain hunting nowadays, HOMM5 and/or HOMM5 - Tribes of the East make for good selections as we await the second coming of the nearly messianic Starcraft II...alright, bad analogy, but seriously, more people eagerly wait for the next David Kim Battle Report than go to church on Sunday.

If anyone else out there occasionally has six hours to kill sometime, maybe we can organize a HOMM5 Lan game or something.:)

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