Review by Dayseed

"A Continued Tradition"

Might and Magic VII: For Blood and Honour continues the long running RPG series by New World Computing. Classic elements from the first 5 entries make it into this game, along with the same engine that was featured in M&M VI. This results in both good and bad elements.

Graphics: The graphics have never been the series strong point. In this entry, the gameplay graphics are smack dab in the middle of the road. They're not good, they're not great, they're not terrible, they're not blasphemous. They're average in almost all respects. A lot of other reviews have complained about the blocky pixilated mess of a monster/house/item up close, but during the heat of the action, it's not a terrible thing. During the game, players are treated to pre-rendered CGI movies at various junctions. Again, these aren't the worst movies you'll ever see, but the pale in comparison to the gems seen in such fare as Final Fantasy VIII. The stunning animated graphics for up-close and personal dealings with houses/people/dungeons are about the best graphics this game has to offer.

Sound/Music: Now we're getting somewhere. The sounds in this game offer simple fare. Grunts, groans, sword swings and spell sounds are all typical of what one might expect from a RPG (save the ''Wizard Eye'' spell activation sound, I still get a kick out of it). Random voice samples from the characters help to bring them to life, but a few of the samples are enough to drive one to tear one's hair out by the roots. But the music... For some reason, Might and Magic games (after M&M V anyway, including the Heroes series) have stunning soundtracks. They're great to listen to and they rarely, if ever, become boring or grating. A compilation CD of all the scores from all the games should be made, it'd sell. But, on the downside, the tracks are played through their entirety once during a map and then no more until a new map is entered. Disappointing, since a few of the maps may take 30 minutes or so to complete.

Gameplay: The gameplay is simple and easy to pick up. It's mostly point and click type adventuring, combat and inventory management. For those of us who prefer the keyboard, hotkeys and the almighty all-use all-function space-bar make navigating the continent of Erathia fun and easy. Combat can be divided into two forms, turn-based or real-time combat at the flick of a button. Both have their advantages and disadvantages. In theory, the turn-based should be used for large battles against numerous foes or really tough baddies, real-time against weaklings and/or for ranged combat. I found that real-time was always the better choice since running around whomping the enemy up close worked like a charm. But it makes for weak spell-casting tactics.

Who Cares?: Why would anyone care about this game that so far I've catagorized as average in most respects? Firstly, for a game that emphasizes open-ended exploration and non-linear questing, it does it marvellously well. The main plot-line can move along at a good clip while still maintaining the open-ended exploration. It's an excellent mix and the player rarely feels trapped or tapped into doing what the programmer's feel they should be doing. Secondly, the statistics used for each character are still there. Unlike most other RPGs, the M&M series has always kept a plethora of statistics available for the character. And they're stats that ''mean'' something. I can think of a good many other games where the individual character statistics represented 'something' but weren't all that much of an effect upon actual gameplay. Wizardry and Ultima come leaping to mind. This leads to a whole lot of character tinkering, tweaking and adjusting to give you a party that you, the player, feel absolutely at home with. Lastly, the story in this entry brings home a few ties from previous games, ultimately linking the original Corak/Sheltem storyline to the new Heroes/Enroth storyline. It's a wonderful touch for long time fans.

But Come On, You Said There Were Bad Points!: True, there are. Most of the quests in this game are simple courier quests. Meet Person A, Find His Item, Take It Back To Him, Get Experience, Meet Person B etc. Also, the rampant killing in the game gets a wee bit tedious. Getting away from an objective review of the game to a more subjective wish-list, I'd like in the future to see games where multiple ways of achieving goals are available. Baldur's Gate and it's ilk are a wonderful example of this. M&M VII suffers from the ''butcher everyone in sight'' syndrome. A roving gang of thieves have taken a sacred chalice back to their hide-out. You arrive, kill all 200 gang-members and waltz on out. To me, no matter how powerful the characters are, a steady succession of 200 deaths would tire them out, make them more vulnerable, morally subdue them etc...but it doesn't. They kill, kill, kill and kill some more.

Overall: If you're new to the RPG genre, this isn't a bad game to cut your teeth on. It's got the classic RPG elements that almost every other game has, it's one of the big-name, premier Computer RPG series and it's a well-balanced game. On the other hand, if you're a stalwart RPG veteran, trust me, you've fought for Blood & Honour already. If you're a fan of the series, complete this one, M&M VI and VIII in order to be ready for M&M IX.

Score 7/10

Reviewer's Rating:   3.5 - Good

Originally Posted: 06/05/01, Updated 06/05/01

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