Heroes of Might and Magic V: Hammers of Fate
Reviewed By: Michael Chauvet (Dr. Finger)
Heroes V: Hammers of Fate
There are two kinds of expansion packs in this world. The first adds new and interesting gameplay elements while simultaneously massaging away some of the poor design decisions in the base game. The second kind slaps on a handful of indistinct new features, most of which were probably removed from the original game in an effort to churn out a quick, cheap expansion pack. Guess which one Heroes of Might and Magic V: Hammers of Fate
From the get go things look bad. You start off the new campaign not as the new Dwarven faction but as part of the same Griffon Empire you spent pretty much all of the original Heroes V campaign playing. The first act of the campaign feels more like a trial than anything remotely fun, although the last two acts are a bit more engrossing. The storyline itself is decent, but dragged down by bad voice acting and even worse dialogue. Core gameplay is still well done and a lot of fun, with good graphics and balanced factions, but almost completely unchanged from Heroes V. One interesting addition is the multiplayer Simultaneous Turns feature, which allows opposing players to take their turns at the same time until they come into 'Conflict' for the first time. Unfortunately on all but the largest maps players invariably come into Conflict way too quickly, at which point the game changes back to the traditional turn-based mechanics that make multiplayer all but impossible on a game like this. While I think it was a noble effort on the developer's part to try and salvage multiplayer, it just may not be a workable feature in a game like this.
However almost all of the other new features in HoF
feel like elements that should have been included in the initial release of Heroes V. Touting things like a map editor and a random map generator as new content is akin to advertising that your car comes with an FM radio. It doesn't help that the new Dwarves faction itself also feels like nothing special. The new units look generic and have none of the visual flair which some of the existing units and factions sport. None of the new unit abilities introduced in HoF
are particularly interesting or fun to use either. One exception is the Dwarves' special faction skill, Runic Magic, which almost makes up for the bland units. Runes allow you to spend resources in battle to grant special abilities such as added speed or resistance to a given stack for a single turn. While similar to the Academy's artificer ability the Runic magic effects are much more dramatic, although the benefits are much shorter-lived. Also introduced is a new rebel faction, but they're little more than palette-swapped Haven units with new names. The caravan, a staple of previous Heroes titles, makes a comeback, although it probably should never have been removed from the game in the first place. Other than that new elements are pretty sparse. A few new artifacts, 4 new neutral creatures, a handful of new scenario maps and a few bug fixes, that's pretty much it. No new creatures, buildings or heroes for existing factions. No new spells. No new skills. Worst of all, no new angles on gameplay.
+ Runs well even on old-ass PCs
+ Gameplay is still rock solid
+ It's still a pretty game
- The few 'new' features are pretty lame
- The AI still isn't scalable
- Multiplayer just isn't workable on this type of game
° $30 for stuff that should have been in the original game is criminal.
Viewed as a single unit Heroes V and the Hammer of Fate expansion make a very good game. But taken separately neither title really holds up. Almost all of the 'new' features in Hammers of Fate
feel like they should have been included in the original game, and the single new faction just isn't fun or original enough to support an expansion pack. In the end this feels like a bunch of elements that Ubisoft and Nival held back from the original release so they could sell you the game twice.
Rating: Only for dedicated fans of the series or genre
(2 out of 5 EvilEyes)