Heroes of Might and Magic V

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Heroes of Might and Magic V
DVD box cover
Developer(s) Nival Interactive
Freeverse Software (OS X)
Publisher(s) Ubisoft
Writer(s) Jeff Spock
Composer(s) Rob King
Paul Romero
Series Heroes of Might and Magic
Engine Heavily modified form of the Silent Storm Engine
Platform(s) Microsoft Windows, OS X
Release date(s) May 16, 2006 (Europe, Russia)
May 24, 2006 (United States, Canada)
June 8, 2006 (Poland)
Genre(s) Turn-based strategy, role-playing game
Mode(s) Single-player, single-system multiplayer, and network play
Distribution CD-ROM or DVD

Heroes of Might and Magic V (sometimes referred to as Heroes V or HoMM5) is the fifth installment of the Heroes of Might and Magic fantasy turn-based strategy video game series. Like the other games in the series, players control "heroes"—leaders with magical abilities—who recruit forces—often monsters—from strongholds such as castles. The heroes and their armies battle the opponents, who also use heroes to lead their forces. It features a campaign series of levels, stand-alone and multiplayer scenarios.

Unlike the preceding games in the series which were all 2D, though with some isometric touches, this game was the first to be completely 3D. It was developed by Nival Interactive, under the guidance of franchise-owner Ubisoft. It was released in Europe on May 16 and the United States and Canada on May 24, 2006.

Gameplay[edit]

Map view of a bastioned bridge across a river.

A hero can learn a new skill, upgrade an existing one, gain a new ability or create combos of multiple abilities upon gaining a new level or visiting special buildings on the adventure map. There are two sets of skills available to heroes: racial skills and regular skills. A hero can have up to five regular skills and always has the proper racial skill. Skills are divided into four levels: Basic, Advanced, Expert, and Ultimate. Each skill is associated with three to five abilities, depending on the race of the hero. Each level of skill gives the hero a chance to learn one ability under the skill. That is, a hero with Basic level of a skill can learn one ability, Advanced level two, and Expert level three. An ability is not immediately learned when the hero increases the corresponding skill level.

The racial skill that a hero learns is dependent on their native faction. All heroes from a faction learn the same racial skill and racial abilities. Each racial skill culminates in an 'ultimate ability' that can only be gained by learning a very specific set of regular skills and abilities. In addition to the three levels of skills that apply to regular skills, the racial skill can reach an ultimate level when a certain artifact is worn by the hero.

Plot[edit]

There are six factions in the game: Haven, Inferno, Necropolis, Dungeon, Sylvan and Academy. Additionally, the game's expansion packs added the Fortress and Stronghold alignments.

Haven Campaign[edit]

Haven is a faction populated by humans and ruled by religious warlords, the Holy Griffin Empire propagates "Law and Order" and faith in Elrath, the Dragon of Light, as their supreme goals. Arising from their military tradition, they have the ability to train their soldiers, promoting them from one level to another. They are the primary protagonists of the game's campaign missions. Their main Heroes are young Queen Isabel and faithful Godric, the king's uncle and the top general for the Griffin Empire.

An unexpected demon invasion interrupts the wedding of King Nicolai of the Griffin Empire and Lady Isabel, and soon the forces of the Griffin Empire are at war with the demons of Sheogh. With Nicolai at the front, Isabel is sent, along with the abbess Beatrice, to the Summer Palace, where they are guarded by Godric, the King's uncle. Isabel persuades Godric to let her take part in the war rather than wait.[1] Godric is to go to the Silver Cities to seek help from Archmage Cyrus, while Beatrice will go to Irollan to get help from Elven King Alaron. Eventually, Isabel raises an army, but when Beatrice returns to lead her to meet the Elven reinforcements, Beatrice reveals that she is Biara: a succubus and assistant to a demon lord, Agrael. (In fact, Biara had the original Beatrice killed and took her guise as soon as she learned that Nicolai had sent Isabel to the summer palace.[2]) She obviously hasn't visited King Alaron at all, and the meeting was a trap by Agrael, who captures Isabel. Isabel escapes Agrael with Godric's help (Godric failed to enlist aid from Cyrus, but returns himself), but they are too late to prevent Agrael from killing Nicolai, who, with his dying breath, proclaims Isabel to be Queen in his stead.[3]

Inferno Campaign[edit]

A dark kingdom of demons from the underworld known as Sheogh, the Inferno is a faction which uses "Gating", a method used to summon additional, though temporary, reinforcements onto the battlefield. Making their infernal abode on blasted lava terrain, the demons are the primary antagonists in the game, led by Urgash, the Dragon of Chaos, and their evil overlord, the Demon Sovereign Kha-Beleth. They are the protagonists of the second act of the campaign, where they are led by ambitious and ruthless Agrael.

Although Nicolai is dead, Agrael has failed in his mission of capturing Isabel, and attempts to flee the wrath of Kha-Beleth, the Demon Sovereign, and raging Godric. Intending to overthrow Kha-Beleth, he decides to capture the Heart of the Griffin, which Nicolai had used in their battle, but the Demon Sovereign sends one of his servants, Veyer. When Agrael reaches the mausoleum and defeats Veyer, he is met by a mysterious Elven apparition, Tieru, who reveals that the Demon Sovereign is attempting to summon an apocalyptic Demon Messiah. He instructs Agrael to meet him in the Dragonmist Islands, which can only be reached through the Elven land of Irollan. After a long march and battles with the Elves, Agrael meets Tieru, who tells him about the War of the Eclipse, where Kha-Beleth was banished, as well as the Demon Messiah's links to Isabel. Agrael admits that he questioned Kha-Beleth's plans because he has fallen for Isabel,[4] and Tieru tells him that he must be purified of demonic corruption with the Rite of True Nature. Agrael agrees, and during the ritual, Biara attempts to steal the Heart, only to be sent back to Sheogh.

Necropolis Campaign[edit]

Once a secret cult flourishing within the dark underside of the Empire and the Silver Cities, the Necropolis faction resides in Heresh and is ruled by corrupted wizards who worship a twisted spider version of Asha, the Dragon of Order, seeking to find everlasting peace and beauty in death that has been denied to them in life. They can use the dark magic of necromancy to re-animate slain enemies and fill their own ranks with shambling corpses. The Hero for the Necropolis campaign is the shrewd and cunning Markal.

Meanwhile, in the Griffin Empire, Isabel's position as Queen is challenged by Archbishop Randall and other local lords, who begin a civil war. A mysterious necromancer, Markal, appears and assists Isabel in her fight against the rebels. Markal reveals himself to be the former advisor to Nicolai's mother, Queen Fiona, and offers to help Isabel revive her dead husband with the Vampire's Garment. Although Isabel trusts him and helps him to gather its pieces, Godric is less gullible, warning Isabel that Markal had been banished years ago for his necromancy and treachery. Isabel ignores him, and as she and Markal gather the artifacts, she destroys former alliances with the Elves and the Wizards, whose leader, Cyrus, is killed by Markal for one of the artifacts. When Godric can take it no more, he keeps the last artifact and barricades himself in the Wizard city of Hikm. Markal retaliates by kidnapping his daughter Freyda as blackmail, and later defeats Godric, who is imprisoned. Isabel and Markal then begin their march to the Hall of Heroes.

Dungeon Campaign[edit]

Hailing from the underground empire of Ygg-Chall, the dark elves Dungeon faction are a group of fallen elves whose society is built around faith in Malassa, the Dragon of Darkness, secrecy, plots, and betrayal. They were once part of the Sylvan faction, but became renegades when they made a pact with the mysterious Faceless (in fact they are falsely accused of Brittiga's burning and the king Arniel's death, and they had to turn to Malassa for their survival). They mastered the ability of Irresistible Magic, which made their spells so powerful that even those who had the strongest resistance to magic have little chance to resist. The hero for the dark elf campaign is Raelag, a mysterious and ambitious warlock.

In the Dark Elven nation of Ygg-Chall, Clan Shadowbrand is holding a tournament to choose their new leader. An unknown warlock, Raelag (who is the transformed Agrael, notice that "Raelag" is an anagram of "Agrael"), participates and wins, becoming the Clanlord, and now seeks to unite the clans into a single state. With the help of another warlock, Shadya, he assimilates the other clans, except Clan Soulscar, who is discovered to be in alliance with the demons. Raelag then discovers that the Demon Sovereign has sent Veyer to capture Queen Isabel. Arriving at the outskirts of Sheogh, Raelag routs Veyer and asks Isabel to follow him to Tieru, where she can be purged of the Sovereign's influence. Markal, however, convinces her otherwise and they continue on to the Hall of Heroes.

Sylvan Campaign[edit]

View of the Sylvan town. During the game, the camera flies through the 3D environment.

The old Rampart faction from HoMM III in spirit, the Sylvan faction is more distinctly Elvish this time around, residing in Elven kingdom Irollan which is said to be blessed by Sylanna, the Dragon of Earth. Their heroes focus on archery, and so do their creatures, who can finish off their enemies without touching them. Their racial skill gives entire armies bonuses when fighting certain enemies they have slain previously. They are the counterpart to the Dungeon. The hero for the Sylvan Campaign is Findan, a diplomat and a determined fighter.

When Nicolai is resurrected, Isabel realises to her horror that the spell has damned his soul, leaving him a vampire. Stunned by this revelation, she breaks down and Markal seizes the chance to declare himself ruler of the Griffin Empire.

When the Elven king, Alaron, takes in Griffin refugees, Markal's forces begin to raid Irollan, and the diplomat Findan is sent to stop the raids. He is later tasked to find the Emerald Dragons to turn the tide on the Undead, but returns to find Syris Thalla, the capital, besieged. Alaron dies in the siege, but tells Findan to seek Tieru. After defending the capital, Findan travels to the Dragonmist Islands, but is too late to stop Biara from killing Tieru, although the latter's spirit tells Findan about Kha-Beleth's plan; the Demon Sovereign has placed a mark on Isabel so that she will bear the Demon Messiah. He also instructs Findan to get a scroll back from Biara, which, if used by a powerful mage, will be able to stop Kha-Beleth. The only such mage would be Zehir, the son of Cyrus.

After pursuing Biara and getting the scroll back, Findan returns to Irollan, where the Elves are now on the verge of victory, but now face a terrible foe in Nicolai, who is now a Vampire Lord. With the help of Phoenixes or by destroying all the Spectral Dragons, Findan 'brings the dawn', and puts Nicolai to rest. He then sets off to find Zehir.

Academy Campaign[edit]

The Academy faction is a town dominated by wizards and magical creatures since its debut in the second game of the series. Not much has changed besides its location, moving away from snowy mountains of the Tower City in Heroes of Might and Magic III to a vibrant desert scene closer to the original Wizard castle, now filled with middle-eastern dress. Most of its heroes focus on magic, and their army comprises mostly shooters and flyers. Their Dragon is Sar-Elam, also known as the Seventh Dragon and the very first wizard who had so much power so he had become a Dragon and helped to banish the malicious Urgash, the Dragon of Chaos. The hero for the Academy Campaign is young and brash Zehir, the son of the late Arch-mage Cyrus and the new Arch-mage of the Silver Cities.

With the Silver Cities shattered by Markal's invasion, the new Archmage Zehir seeks to liberate the Wizard nation from the grip of the necromancers and avenge his father, Cyrus. Swiftly, he rallies his troops and retakes the Silver Cities, before forging an alliance with Findan and Godric. The trio manage to defeat Markal, and burn his body to ensure he cannot return as a lich. Determined to rid Isabel of demonic influence, they ally themselves with Raelag and Shadya and successfully get to Isabel, preparing to do the Rite of True Nature.

However, Shadya then reveals herself to be Biara in disguise and seizes Isabel before fleeing to Sheogh, where the Demon Sovereign waits. The heroes travel there as well, and in an epic battle, they defeat the Demon Sovereign, who escapes with Biara. With Isabel free, they then return to their respective countries.

As Godric and Isabel survey the damage in their homeland, Isabel's eyes light red, implying that the demons of Sheogh are not quite defeated yet.

Development[edit]

In August 2003, Ubisoft acquired the rights to the Might and Magic franchise for USD$1.3 million[5] after 3DO filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Ubisoft announced their plan on developing the fifth game in the series under the direction of producer Fabrice Cambounet. These news bred controversy as New World Computing under 3DO had already started making the fifth Heroes game. Although, along with the Might and Magic brand, Ubisoft gained access to NWC's developments on Heroes V (which envisioned it as an isometric 2D game on the Heroes IV engine), it was decided to throw them away and create a completely 3D game.

Expansions[edit]

The first Heroes V expansion pack, called Hammers of Fate, was released on November 17, 2006 in Europe and November 24, 2006 in North America. It includes a new race, the Dwarves, who have exclusive access to a new kind of magic, known as Rune Magic. Other features include the much-awaited random map generator and the return of the Heroes IV caravans. This expansion pack requires the full version of Heroes of Might and Magic V to play.

The stand-alone second expansion pack is called HOMMV: The Tribes of the East and was released on October 12, 2007 in Europe and on October 19, 2007 in North America. Tribes of the East includes the new Stronghold faction, alternate upgrades for all units currently in the game (bringing the total number of creatures to 177), as well as new artifacts and spells.

Reception[edit]

The critical reaction to the retail version of Heroes V has been generally favourable, with an average review score of roughly 79%.[6] Positives that have been mentioned include appealing 3D graphics and music, a random map generator (which was added in the expansion) and gameplay faithfulness to the traditions of HoMM III, the most successful game in the series.

Noted negatives or disappointments include: sluggish (online and network) multiplayer modes, cheating (receiving extra resources each turn) and poorly coded AI, a number of minor bugs, spelling/grammar mistakes, too few maps and a simplification of the combat engine. Some of these problems have been fixed by patches and the expansions.

Sequel[edit]

On August 17, 2010, a trailer for Might & Magic Heroes VI was released on GameTrailers.[7] The release date was announced as September 8, 2011, but was changed to October 13, 2011.[8]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Godric: There is wisdom in what you say, but that Cyrus... And the king’s orders... / Isabel: For the empire, Godric, which is greater than any one king. Even one we love so dearly. / Godric: As you wish, Milady. Griffin eternal! Nival Interactive (2008-11-08). "Heroes of Might and Magic V" PC. Ubisoft. 
  2. ^ Biara: Your dear, insufferable Beatrice is finally doing something useful - fertilising the vegetables at the Summer Palace. What's left of her, anyway. / Isabel: What? How?! When did you- / Biara: As soon as Nicolai announced you were going there. Poor Beatrice... she was so trusting. And I can be very persuasive. Nival Interactive (2008-11-08). "Heroes of Might and Magic V" PC. Ubisoft. 
  3. ^ Godric: The Empire is saved, my King. For this, you will be remembered as your father was. / Nicolai: The kingdom... Godric, swear to me- / Godric: Anything, my King. / Nicolai: Queen Isabel... she will rule in my stead. Guard her. Protect her! / Godric: But - she was not crowned. She- / Nicolai: Swear it! / Godric: I... swear it, my King. Nival Interactive (2008-11-08). "Heroes of Might and Magic V" PC. Ubisoft. 
  4. ^ Tieru: Then why did you lead the army that fought Nicolai? How many Griffin soldiers died with him? Come, Agrael, there cannot be secrets between us. / Agrael: It... It is Isabel. / Tieru: By Asha's eight heads! I tried to factor every force and power into my plans, and forgot the oldest and messiest one. / Agrael: I watched her grow up, almost from birth. Kha-Beleth sent me to keep an eye on her. Nival Interactive (2008-11-08). "Heroes of Might and Magic V" PC. Ubisoft. 
  5. ^ Namco, Ubisoft and MS carve up 3DO assets[dead link]
  6. ^ "Heroes of Might and Magic V Reviews". Gamerankings.com. 2006-05-23. Retrieved 2012-12-17. 
  7. ^ "Might & Magic: Heroes VI - GC 10: Debut Trailer". Gametrailers. Retrieved 2012-12-17. 
  8. ^ Onyett, Charles (2010-08-17). "Gamescom: Might & Magic Heroes VI First Look". IGN. Retrieved 2010-08-18. 

External links[edit]