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Dark Messiah of Might and Magic: Elements is an interesting little RPG on the Xbox 360. I say interesting because I took a punt after finding it with bargain bin £5 price tag, and after a recommendation from a friend. I wasn't really sure what to expect, but for a fiver, how could I go wrong?
As it turns out, I didn't go wrong, but it still didn't turn out to be what I expected. Your usual RPG is anywhere from 20-100 hours long. For me the sweet spot is probably around 40 hours, but DM clocks in at around 10. This was totally unexpected, but in truth, it's the best length for this game. I realised a few hours in that this game has the tag Elements for the same reason that Photoshop or Premiere Elements exist. It's a heavily cut down RPG experience, but that's not to say it's worse for it, because it never really tries to be epic or compete with the big boys like Oblivion and Mass Effect.
What it doesn't do is focus much on story, plot or character building. Those are things that make 'proper' RPGs what they are, but DM focusses instead on combat, combat, and combat. It's more like an FPS with high fantasy and some RPG elements than a true RPG.
Anyway, enough about what it is or is not - is it any good? Well, yes, actually. It's not mind blowing or genre defining, but it's very functional and I had a real blast with it. Your character is pretty much set, but you can choose your class - Archer, Warrior, Mage or Assassin. You can also choose to download two extra classes - the Paladin and the Warlock, who are each combinations of the Warrior and Mage, but with each leaning more towards one class. As you progress through the game, your character will automatically level up and gain a predefined ability. It's not perfect, but it keeps the game from trying to be something it isn't and keeps the player focussed on the game itself.
The quests in the game are short and sweet for the most part, consisting mainly of various kinds of fetch or kill quests. However every now and then you'll come across some giant boss, and interestingly, although you could spend a lot of time and pain trying to kill it with swords or bows, there's usually a quicker way to kill it, but usually it's quite well hidden. It took me a while to figure this out, because I really didn't expect it from a game I expected to be a bit dumb compared to its peers, but it makes boss fights pretty interesting, and fun to be a part of.
On the whole, combat is generally good but a little clumsy. It's functional in that you can generally kill what you want to kill, but given a few enemies at once, things get a little more difficult. Attacking who you want to isn't quite as easy as it should be, but it's by no means bad. You'll find weapons scattered all over the place - clubs, swords, staffs and bows, but you can only ever wield those suited to your class, so swords for Warriors and staffs for Mages. Anything else goes in your 'collection' to be viewed from the main menu. There are no shops or merchants to buy from sell the extra weapons to - you simply use what you can find. Spells, for those classes that can cast them, are assigned automatically as you level up, and are easy enough to cast since they're assigned to either face buttons or the D-pad. They're your standard RPG style spells - lightning, shrink, heal, etc, and they work pretty much as you expect.
Dark Messiah then, is a functional, heavily combat-oriented RPG-lite that's great for filling a few hours for those in between 'real' RPGs and are in need of something to fill the void. It can't hold its own among the big boys, but taken on its own merits it's a great little game that can't be ignored at its current rock-bottom price.
Dark Messiah: Elements of Might and Magic got a bad rap when it first came out for being a bad port of the PC game (which to be fair, it is) but never really got appreciated for what it was. It also got heavily compared to Oblivion because they are both First Person perspective games, both traditional High Fantasy, both have quite stereotypical medieval architecture, so for the purpsoes of this review I will continue that trend.
It is very trimmed down from PC version, but apart from controls feeling a little heavy at first, the game is actually well ported and plays very well on console. Yes there is a lot of stuff missing, the game isn't anywhere near as in depth as the PC version, and the levels are somewhat shorter in places, but the actual gameplay is quite fun.
Interestingly, the game presents itself to you as an FPS game, when you pick a difficulty it actually suggests them based on the players ability with FPS games.
This is echoed to some degree in the character selection and RPG elements. Frankly, the RPG elements are none existant. Yes you gain experience and level up, but that is so common place in games now that I can't really classify it as being an RPG element anymore, at least not on its own.
Gone from the PC game is the character creation process and being able to level and make your own choices an skills etc, you just pick 1 of 4 characters and the game does the rest. You level up and get a set new ability at each level.
Sounds very boring, and in a way it is, but here's the interesting part, the story and progress of the game is excellent, a hell of a lot of fun. The level design is beautiful. Sure the game may not be the best looking game in the world, but it's a lot better than it was given credit for when first released, and the size and scope of the buildings and dungeons is excellent. I'd even go so far as to say that it puts Oblivion to shame in some respects. Oblivion, for as awesome as it is, always dissapointed me because it's dungeons were dull and uninspired, and the castles were only slightly bigger than a bungalow. One thing Dark Messiah has is rightly HUGE dungeons and castles etc. The story of the game I will not divulge so as not to spoil things, suffice to say however that it is on par with anything Oblivion did, and better than it's direct counterpart (Oblivion has a mildly similar story for it's mages guild). The game, however, is very short, about 10 hours all told for a first run through, so that is a problem, and I can't shake the feeling that this whole game feels like one lengthy sidequest that was ripped out of Oblivion. It wasn't obviously, however the length of the game, the art design and teh quality of the story is such that the whole package FEELS like it belongs in Oblivion.
The gameplay is also a huge plus for me. Not quite as fluid as Oblivion, to continue that comparison, but where Oblivion makes a half assed attempt at including traps and things, DM does them well. Being able to set off traps and lure enemies into areas where you can drop something on them, or boot them into a fire or off the edge of a building is fantastic and works incredibly well. It sets me in mind of the Thief games in many ways, the way you could interact with your environment.
The characters available are cookie cutter, Fighter, Mage, Archer, Assassin. Not hugely original, but when you are being forced to pick from a selection of pre-mades, you pretty much have to expect archetypes. The question becomes 'are they any good?', well, yes.
The Fighter is much on par with his Oblivion counterpart, there is so little difference in fact that if you've played as a fighter in one, you know exactly what to expect from the other. You block, you swing your sword, rinse and repeat. One thing Oblivion does have in it's favour is weapon variety. You can only use swords in Dark Messiah, where as Oblivion lets you pick and choose Axes, Daggers, Maces, Swords etc. With that said, Oblivion was never particular strong with magical weapons, and the weapons you can use in Dark Messiah are often magical and the effects are well implemented. So they both have their pro's and con's in that respect.
The Mage, again is very much like Oblivion, but I find him very underwhelming to play. You spend most of the game just using the one fireball spell you begin with because it's fast and enough to take down anything, other spells take time to cast and are quite useless because of it. It also reinforces the suggestion that the game is 'FPS like' as firing these fireballs is somewhat agkin to unloading a barrage of bullets into an enemy and your mana potions with which to restockyour magic power become more like extra magaines for guns. Again, Oblivion is somewhat similar, however the variety of spells is immense and spell casting does tend to be slightly more measured compared to the frantic blasting of Dark Messiah.
The Archer. Again, very much like Oblivion, again so much so that if you've played an archer in one, you know what to expect from the other. Everything, right down to being able to 'zoom in' to make your shots more precise, it is all essentially identical to Oblivion, and is excellent implemented. Oddly though, despite being a projectile weapon, being the ARcher and using the Bow and Arrows does not make the game feel like an FPS game. You tend to be slower and take time to be more precise with your shots to try and make every shot count, especially if you can hit a headshot which does HUGE damage.
The Assassin. Guess what, yep, it's like Oblivion, only this time FAR BETTER. Playing as an Assassin character in Oblivion falls on its ass because you are essentially just a stealthy archer, but in this, the archer and assassin are seperate and indeed the Assassin has no ranged attacks (except for throwing a dagger at a fleeing enemy), so you have to concentrate on stealth. It works wonderfully and you can do things Oblivion should do, but doesn't. As you level up you can become invisible when in the shadows and not moving, then later you can stay invisible when moving in the shadows. For me though, the best bit by far, that Oblivion sorely lacks, is a stealth 'instakill' attack. If you can sneak up behind somebody and hit them with a power attack, you get a backstab and an instant kill. It's simple, but fantastic and a LOT of fun. My most fun moments in this have been from sneaking around and luring enemies into a perfect set up so I can backstab them.
It strikes me that this game was rated harshly because it was considered a bad port, the game is actually very short, and it has obvious comparisons to Oblivion which is somewhat unfair as the game has its own charm and merits. It's not anywhere near the RPG Oblivion is, it's nowhere near as open, but the pure gameplay is very very satsifying, equally as good as Oblivion, and in some cases, much better.
Is it worth RRP of £40 when it was first released? No. A short game (about 10 hours all told at best) and you will likely only play it through once, perhaps twice, and a couple of additional hours to polish off achievements, but thats all the single player campaign offers. It has a multiplayer tacked on, which I tried once when I first played it back when it was first released. It was dire. Went back to try it again now, and its impossible to get a game anyway as nobody plays it. So definitely not worth £40.
However I picked this up for £6 2nd hand, and for that price, it's well worth giving it a shot, especially considering you'll still get a couple of quid for it on trade in. It's like renting a game, except you get half your money back once you return it. Yeah, at £6, it's worth a punt, if nothing else just to mess about and compare it to Oblivion for yourselves.
I've never been a massive fan of the 'Might and Magic' series of RPGs. It's a series that has produced a considerable amount of duff games, yet it's just kept on going, desperately trying to get it right.
Well, I didn't think I'd say this but, by god, I think this may be the one.
A first person fantasy RPG, first comparisons will inevitably be towards the classic Oblivion, with its incredible graphics, limitless open world, huge scope for character customisation... and rather clunky gameplay/combat, but we were able to forgive that in light of all the other fantastic revolutionary elements.
Now although on the surface it may appear to be an imitation, Might & Magic is almost the opposite of this classic. For a start, Might & Magic is really quite a linear game. But this works in its favour. Where Oblivion rewarded extensive exploration and conversation, but left certain locations or quests half coloured, this game sends the player on a defined route but fills it with spectacular set pieces.
Where the combat in Oblivion was slow, clunky and generally unsatisfying, combat in Might & Magic is some of the best you've experienced in any swords and sorcery type game. With tonnes of impressive environmental interaction thrown in, this is serious fun.
No, the graphics aren't particularly special. There ARE technical flaws here, too, including (bizarrely) framerate slowdown. But I had so much fun playing this, and I can't think of any game that offers a similar experience.
Overall, fans of the action RPG should definitely check this out. It's a fairly lightweight experience, yes, but in these days of military shooters and long winded, open-world games, this could offer you some much needed relief!
I quite liked this game.
The demo on Xbox Live is a little misleading, seeing as though the layout of that particular level is different, the power ups are different, and the Rope Bow was scrapped completely.
The game has great graphics, and a good story line, but as with most Role Playing Games, the comparison to Oblivion still stands, and the verdict is always the same... it's a good game, but it still isn't Oblivion.
If you are an RPG fan, don't hang all of your hopes on this game. The character is nowhere near as customisable as you would have hoped, and the plot isn't open ended, and the terrain isn't free roaming.
If you want a decent Role Playing Game, then you want to buy Oblivion. However, if you want an RPG that you can just pick up and play without having to create a new character... then this is the game for you.
Dark Messiah Of Might And Magic is a role playing action game for the Microsoft Xbox 360 games console.
In this game the story follows a man called Sareth, you can choose what time of person he is, the warrior, a Mage and so on.
Although this game is a role playing game you have very little freedom as the game forces you down a set path. This game is much more action based, you have a wide range of weapons to pick from, swords, daggers, bow and arrow and many magical powers. The fighting is fast and frantic a little like Oblivion but on speed.
The game is unfortunately quite short, so it does not let you have a chance to try out absolutely everything and you need to play it again to experience all the different classes, spells and weapons.
This is a fun title that is not too heavy on role playing, you can buy it for about £30.00.
Dark Messiah of Might and Magic: Elements
Developer: Arkane Stuios
I was a fan of oblivion and was told that this game
was very much like it but it had a better combat system, and
after seeing my friend playing it on his pc a while ago I decided to rent
it on the Xbox 360.
The single player campaign sees you playing as a young man named Sareth and lets you choose from warrior, archer, mage, and assassin character classes where you must play through the nine story chapters. It sounds like a fair amount to play but they are mostly brief and the game took me about 8 hours to complete, although I died quite alot which if I hadn't the game would have been alot shorter.
The fact that the game calls its self a action game and a RPG isn't really true, because even though you level up and gain better weapons, you dont actually get to choose your stats, the game automatically does it for you and most of these are health or strength upgrades, instead of things that would improve your chosen character class which takes any of the RPG depth away from the game.
Whereas the PC version let you spend skill points in the areas you thought to be most valuable to your playing style.
Combat isn't very good at all, which see you simply having to press the right trigger until the bad guys die in spouts of blood and sometimes gore.
The number of enemies you fight at once doesn't reach true action proportions with you basically just killing a group of 3 or less zombies, vampires, mages or guards, which shows a major lack of
lack of variety. You occassionaly fight large spiders and mini-bosses such as Cyclops which are killed by attacking their eye.
Throughout the game you fight four of these which after the second becomes very repetitive and you seem to hope there will be no more throughout the game. And you also fight 3 flying beasts in different parts of the game which you have to kill in different ways which at least adds a little variety.
The Controls are extremely awkward at times, making you fall to your death quite alot. The game seems to not understand distances, with you being able to use a 4 foot blade to kill a enemy 8 foot away. And its the same with jumping too with some distances looking close but the character not being able to reach them.
This is a direct port of the First-Person Action RPG which was
Released on the PC in late 2006. And it hasn't aged very well. The graphics were dated and flat, and the game itself is very buggy. A few times I found myself falling through floors, and in the middle of a fight I was stood on a dead enemys shield and I was unable to move or use weapons at all. Also the game has traps which you can use which are mostly barrels and boxes on a high up ledge where you can chop the support beams with your sword and have them all fall and crush the enemy, but a few times the boxes just floated in mid air when trying to do this.
Despite all of this I still kind of enjoyed playing the game while it lasted because it made a change from all of the first person shooters that the gaming market seems to be flooded with these days.
I'd give it 3 out of 5 due to the terrible technical bugs and the RPG System. I'd reccomend that you rent it instead of buying due to the short lifespan.
(Also posted on Ciao)