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iPad Game Review: Heroes of Might And Magic 3 HD Review
      #47633 - 01/29/15 04:24 PM

One of the greatest turn-based strategy games of all time finally makes a long-overdue appearance on the iPad. Heroes of Might and Magic 3 is a classic piece of gaming goodness from the nineties. It is widely recognized by most gamers as the high-water mark of the series, which is now in its 7th iteration.



Gameplay

Heroes of Might and Magic 3 follows the tried and true 4X formula (eXplore, eXpand, eXploit, eXterminate), and absolutely nails that elusive "one more turn" feeling that is the hallmark of only the very best turn-based strategy games. Start with a single hero and a single town; explore your surroundings, capture resources, build your base, level your hero, defeat enemies, capture additional towns, rinse, repeat. The secret to Heroes 3's success is razor-sharp balancing and a dizzying variety of creature abilities. There are eight different towns and each one produces a completely unique set of creatures. What to overwhelm your opponents with massive amounts of low-level creatures? Take the Necropolis and use the skeleton transformer on every creature you find into an army of the undead. Prefer to fight at a distance? Play the Academy and blast your opponent from afar with your titans, Arch Magi, and master gremlins. Or, you could start with a dungeon town and melt everything on the battlefield with the armageddon spell while your magic immune black dragons quietly sit back and file their enormous nails. Every town has its own winning strategy, and with eight different town, there's a lot here to keep you coming back. Although everyone has their favorite town, the fact that there is no overwhelming consensus within the gaming community as to which town is actually best is a good indication that this game is pretty well balanced.



Now that I've sold you on the gameplay, let's talk about the iPad version. On my first generation iPad Air, Heroes 3 HD runs quite well with no slowdowns. Although I encountered 2 crashes in approximately 10 hours of gameplay, neither of them were reproducible. Because the original Heroes 3 was heavily dependent on mouseovers and right-button mouse clicks, Ubisoft had to reinvent the wheel for the iPad version. For the most part, their efforts were successful; with three exceptions. First of all, scrolling the map is achieved by touching the screen with two fingers, and dragging. Unfortunately, if you have an active hero when you do this, the game will pick one of those fingers and use it to set a brand new destination for that hero. The two-finger scroll feature also just up and quits during gameplay sometimes, leaving you with no other option than to use the mini map to change the view. Second, on the tactical battle screen, melee attacks are designated by tapping and holding on your target until a number of highlighted hexes appear. Simply tap one of these to set the attack direction and you are good to go. Unless, however, you are attacking with a large creature stack because they fill two spaces, which confuses the interface to the point that sometimes your army will simply move to that spot and not attack. Third, ranged attacks are set by double-tapping your target, which is pretty straightforward. When you try to attack the same target with a second ranged stack, however, it opens up an info dialogue box instead, which you have to close before you can try to attack again. None of these bugs are game-breaking, and I expect them to be fixed pretty quickly so don't let my quibbles prevent you from rushing out and buying this game. However, what may give you second thoughts is the fact that only pass-and-play multiplayer is supported at this time, with no word on whether or not we will see internet play added at a later date. Another bummer is the fact that there is no way to use any of the gazillions of user-made Heroes 3 maps available for download because file transfer is not supported for this version.



Graphics

All of the art assets have been completely redrawn for Heroes 3 HD, and it looks fantastic. When I open the original PC version on my Surface Pro and put it next to this new version running on my iPad, the difference is instantly noticeable. For those of you born after 1995, this 2-D sprite-based game may not be up to your flashy 3D standards; but for the rest of us, it's pleasantly manicured retro gaming goodness.

Sound

I have always enjoyed the music of Heroes 3, which is saying quite a lot considering I usually disable in-game music for grand strategy games. Every town has different music, which only plays while you are accessing it. It's just enough music to draw you into the game but because it never plays on the overland map you never get sick of it. My favorite is the Necropolis organ music, by the way. The sound effects, however, are nothing to write home about thanks to their 90's heritage.

In-App Purchases (IAPs)

No IAPs of any kind. Yep, it's another unicorn.

Conclusion

Being able to play one of the greatest turn-based strategy games of all time on a modern touch-screen device is a very good thing, indeed. Even with a few interface glitches, no internet/WiFi play, and limited maps, I still find myself drawn to this game. Once again, I am not getting enough sleep as I repeatedly mutter to myself into the wee hours of the morning: "just one more turn..."

Ratings (scale of 1 to 5):

Graphics: - 5 - yeah, they're retro, but they're retro on purpose, and it wouldn't be Heroes 3 without them.
Sound: - 4 - The music is fantastic, but the sound effects will remind you that this is a very old game.
Controls: - 4 - Once they fix the previously mentioned interface glitches, this will be a 5.
Gameplay: - 5 - If you're a turn-based strategy gamer, it doesn't get any better than this.

Playing Hints and Tips:

When first starting out, focus on building a castle and a capitol before throwing money at building creature dwellings. If you don't, you won't have any money to buy the creatures once they come available. Most dwellings have prerequisites. Read the description to learn what these are to better plan your town's development. In most cases, it's better to build all dwellings before doing any upgrades. The Castle town is the easiest to play, and it's tier 7 creature (archangel) has some great abilities.

App Facts:

Developer: Ubisoft
Release Date: January 29, 2015
Price: $9.99
Buy App: Heroes of Might & Magic III HD



Reviewed by Tom Slayton







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Check out our full list of iPhone/iPod touch game and app reviews:
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Check out our other iPad game, app and book reviews:
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