Heroes of Might & Magic III - HD Edition

Heroes of Might and Magic III - HD Edition can be approached from two different angles, as I see it.  The first is on its own merits, which is to say, a turn based strategy game that has just been released on Steam, while the other approach is to view it relative to the original variation of the title.

Starting with the nostalgia-laden view first, I should preface this by saying that I played the original HMM3 for more hours than I would ever care to admit to, and while a decade and a half has had a lot of games come and go, every single one of those memories came flooding back the moment I started the game and that familiar music came through my speakers.  I was excited.  If they nailed the audio, you can imagine my expectations for the graphics, which have been given the high definition treatment.  The first thing I see, though, is a rather tiny box in the center of the game window, which has a fifteen year old animation in it.  That animation looked phenomenal back in ‘99, but in 2015, it just looked dated.  But I thought that this was the HD edition?  Maybe I installed the wrong game?

The models were converted to a higher resolution equivalent, although whether they qualify as being 720p (the minimum required for a game to be HD) is difficult for me to tell.  They set the game to allow for widescreen resolutions, they’ve changed IPX in for some standard TCP/IP stack protocols that streamlines multiplayer, and indeed, steam even makes setting up and playing multiplayer matches easier than it ever has been, but the menu, the GUI, all of the other elements of the visual appearance seem to have been glossed over.  Going from Heroes 3 Complete, which is about $5 USD cheaper, to this game, I’m not really sold.

The source files for the expansions are supposedly lost to the ravages of time, and so this title only includes the base model of the game, which negates some of the more memorable aspects like the Conflux town, but more importantly, and more critical to the replay value of the game, the random map generator for skirmishes.  Nothing has been added to the game to address this, and the greatest things, namely fixed multiplayer and resolution, have been addressed by third party mods or by the gameranger matchmaking service.  Too little too late?

Overlooking the original title, and weighing this game solely for its own merits is far more forgiving.  The campaign storyline where you go through the motions of reclaiming the throne, complete with the political intrigue involved, the music is uplifting and inspiring, and the gameplay itself is stellar, even in this day and age.  I have certain expectations out of a game that is going for $15 on Steam, and this title meets and exceeds essentially every single one of them.

It’s not a five star HD game, but it’s also not priced in that bracket either.  Heroes of Might and Magic 3 is an amazing strategy game with great balance between the factions, with different units per faction that will adjust your play style.  Your hero can cast amazing spells that can single-handedly turn the tide of battle, or accomplish absolutely nothing at all.  This is a game where you will have to play smart, and it will teach you to do so by beating you again and again.

Boiling this down to a simple yes or no, I would say that you should get this version of the game. The exception here would be unless multiplayer does nothing for you, in which case you should pop on over to gog.com, save yourself 5 bucks, and get the two expansions alongside the base game.  But either way, the Complete set or the HD Edition, make sure that you get yourself a copy of this game, and do it sooner than later. Heroes of Might & Magic III - HD Edition is still one of the finest strategy titles ever.

Review by Marc
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