Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes Review
Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes is the latest spin-off from the venerable Might & Magic RPG series. Whereas the original Might & Magic series was a traditional RPG series and Heroes of Might & Magic is a Strategy/RPG hybrid, Clash of Heroes is a Puzzle/RPG. The game was originally released on the DS & just recently was released on XBLA & the PSN. I will be reviewing the XBLA version (which has some improvements over the DS version), although I assume the PSN version is about the same.
If you’ve played Puzzle Quest, many aspects of Clash of Heroes should be familiar. The general framework is similar to your typical RPG – you explore a fantasy world, you gain LVs, and you can customize your abilities – but the actual combat is heavily influenced by puzzle games. Whereas Puzzle Quest was basically Bejewelled with special attacks & more stats, Clash of Heroes’s combat is more original and better integrated into its RPG theme which I appreciate.
Basically, you have a grid of different colored units at the bottom and your opponent has a similar grid at the top. During your turn, you can grab units from the bottom and move them to another column, delete units, call for reinforcements, or use a spell (super attacks that can only be used when the spell meter is full). Match 3 units vertically and they become activated and will attack the enemy after X number of turns (depending on the unit type). Match 3 units horizontally and they will turn into a wall. First person to break through their opponents units and deal enough damage wins. Though there are a few advanced rules like earning extra moves by creating chains, using advanced units that are more difficult to activate but are more powerful and have cool special abilities, and dealing extra damage by getting same colored units to attack at the same time, the system is fairly easy to learn. On the negative side, the fact that you can only look up information on your own units and not your enemy’s (who may be using units you are unfamiliar with) can make it more difficult to form a good strategy early on.
There are several playable factions in the game, each of which has its own selection of units and relics (accessories that can be equipped that bestow various bonuses). Though there isn’t quite as much customization as I would have liked, there is still a good variety of units & abilities to be had between the various factions and everything feels pretty well balanced (unlike Puzzle Quest which had some classes & abilities that felt drastically more powerful than others). The gameplay is fun and deep, although luck can occasionally play a big role in the outcome.
The graphics have received a facelift from the DS version. The environments look gorgeous and the actual combat graphics looks quite good. Not so nice are the character portraits. Although some of them were well done, I felt that many of them looked like they were trying too hard to imitate an anime style of art without quite succeeding. Also, some of the text and numbers were on the small size which made them harder to read than they needed to be.
Unfortunately, the new HD graphics come at a cost – load times. Whenever you switch areas or start a new battle, you’re looking at a good 5-10 seconds worth of loading. While not long enough to ruin an otherwise great game, it is a definite negative.
Clash of Heroes has a fantastic amount of content for a game that only costs $15. The single player mode is quite long and gives you a good chance to try out the various heroes and factions. Although I wasn’t a fan of the story, I did enjoy how the game would occasionally change things up by giving you puzzle battles (win a preset arrangement in a single turn) or battles with special conditions like not allying an ally to come to harm. Between the lengthy single player mode and the new online multiplayer modes, there’s a lot of game to play here.
Though it has a few issues here and there like the load times and small text, the core of Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes is solid. Clash of Heroes features unique, fun, and deep gameplay presented with great graphics, attached to a lengthy campaign and online multiplayer. At a mere $15, it’s well worth the price.