Myth: The Fallen Lords
|Myth: The Fallen Lords|
Official 1997 North American release box art.
|Composer(s)||Martin O'Donnell, Michael Salvatori|
Myth: The Fallen Lords is a 1997 real-time tactics video game for Microsoft Windows and Mac OS developed by Bungie and published by Bungie in North America and by Eidos in Europe. It is the first game in the Myth series.
Players control small forces made up of a number of different units, each possessing their own strengths and weaknesses. In single-player mode, only units representing "The Light" are playable, but in multiplayer mode, the player can control both light and dark units.
Myth is a real-time tactics game, meaning that unlike the gameplay of real-time strategy games, the player does not have to worry about resource micromanagement and the gradual building up of their army; each level begins with the player's army already assembled and ready to go into combat straight away. Also unlike real-time strategy games, where the emphasis tends to be on producing as many soldiers as possible, in Myth, it is possible for a skilled player to defeat a much larger force with few or no casualties through strategic play. This is largely due to the advanced physics engine the game employs, as physically modelled environments, unit interactions, and diverse unit behaviours combine to create a gameplay experience in which realistic battlefield interactions can and do occur.
Nearly all objects on the map, even the remains of dead units, are potential projectiles. These objects react with one another, units on the map, and terrain, with the expected physical behaviour, including rolling, bouncing, and crashing. Projectiles, including those fired by ranged units, have no guarantee of hitting any target; they are merely propelled in the directions instructed by the physics engine, based on the actions of the players. Arrows may miss their targets due to a small degree of simulated aiming error that becomes significant at long range, or the target may simply move out of the way before the arrow reaches them. This aiming error may cause the arrow to hit the attacker's own melee unit instead, causing the same amount of damage. As such, friendly fire is a prominent aspect of the game and can be used to the player's advantage when facing certain enemies.
Unit formations are important in Myth, as the game simulates a real battlefield accurately enough for maneuvers such as flanking and encirclement to be effective. When placed together in formation, units can provide an effective defensive front, block an enemy force's escape route, or exploit bad positioning of an enemy force by surrounding it. As healing is a very rare and extremely limited ability, units do not regenerate health, and there is no way to construct new units (although in some single-player missions, reinforcements are automatically received at a predetermined point), hit-and-run skirmishes are very effective, and unit conservation is essential.
Terrain and environmental factors are also important. Rain or standing water will put out some fire and explosive-based attacks. Archers on high ground are able to shoot farther than those on level ground. Most units will flinch when damaged, interrupting actions such as movement and attacks. This has many strategic implications; for example, if two or three melee units gang up to attack one enemy melee unit, it may flinch too frequently to have a chance to attack or escape.
Each unit has an individual name and mini biography, and gains experience for each kill. Experience increases attack rate and accuracy, as well as (for units with shields) the probability of blocking an attack. Any unit that survives a battle will carry over to the next battle with their accumulated experience (assuming the next battle features units of that type).
In the single-player campaign, the player starts each mission with an army which must be used to accomplish specific goals. These goals range from defending a location, reaching a certain point on the map, escorting a unit safely, or destroying an object of strategic significance.
The focus of the single-player campaign is on a smaller force outmaneuvering and outthinking a much larger enemy force. For this reason, the importance of terrain and unit formation is particularly important. Using high ground to further the range of archers, creating bottle necks, and whittling down an enemy with hit-and-run tactics all become crucial strategies in the single-player game, especially on higher difficulty levels.
Units in the single-player campaign acquire experience with each kill. As they acquire experience, they become more resilient, attack faster, and deal more damage. Units retain this experience until killed or until a unit of their type does not appear in a given scenario.
In multiplayer, the player starts with an army and can usually customize it by trading units, using point values that approximate the value of the units. Proper selection of units is an important strategy given the goal of each multiplayer game. For example, if the goal of the game is to guard a flag as long as possible (such as "King of the Hill"), customizing the army with only ranged units would not be wise as there would be no melee units to guard the flag in close combat.
Multiplayer games generally are either "Free-For-All" (FFA), where each player has their own army and competes with everyone else, or "Team," where each army is controlled by a group of players with a captain who disperses units for his teammates to control. There are many different types of multiplayer games within this, ranging from simple "Body Count" to more complicated games involving flags, balls, or animals.
In the world of Myth, the forces of Light and Dark rule the world successively in thousand-year cycles which has repeated since before recorded history. Every cycle climaxes with the arrival of "The Leveler", whose approach (and fall) is heralded by an ominous comet that appears in the sky. The Leveler inhabits the body of the hero who defeated him in the previous cycle — thus the hero who saves civilization is doomed to destroy it.
A thousand years before the events of Myth, the world was plagued by the Myrkridia, a savage race of wolf-like beings. After bringing humanity to the brink of annihilation, most of the Myrkridia were imprisoned in a magical artifact called the "Tain" by the great hero, Connacht, who then hunted the survivors to extinction. Connacht then turned his attention to the Trow; ancient giants who terrorized neighboring races. The Trow enslaved their brethren, the Oghres, and forced them to build iron citadels. During the time of Connacht, the Oghres rebelled against the Trow, but the rebellion ended with the extermination of the Oghres. However, Trow civilization was weakened by the rebellion, and Connacht, knowing the threat the Trow would eventually pose to humanity, took advantage of this and melted their iron cities, entombing them in molten metal. During this time, he also imprisoned "The Watcher", an evil and powerful necromancer, beneath the Cloudspine mountain range, and he defeated Mjarin, the current incarnation of the Leveler. Thus Connacht ushered in a new age of peace and prosperity, known as the Golden Age. He eventually became the emperor of the Cath Bruig Empire, the greatest human civilization the world had ever seen.
At the end of his reign, Connacht vanished into the unknown eastern lands. No one knew for certain what exactly happened to him, but what is known is that at some point, Connacht was possessed by the spirit of the Leveler, becoming Balor. With the knowledge of Connacht, Balor freed The Watcher and enslaved him. He then enslaved Damas, once Connacht's trusted lieutenant, but now a corrupt and evil immortal named Soulblighter. Balor also enslaved Myrdred the Deceiver and the sorceress Shiver, once a beautiful Myrmidon named Ravanna. Balor then freed the Trow, forcing them into his service. The Ghôls, subservient to the Trow, also rallied to his side. Balor then bade his time, slowly gathering his forces, and waiting for the end of the one thousand year cycle. Three hundred years before the events of The Fallen Lords, Balor turned the Myrmidon race away from the Light with a promise of immortality. Two hundred years later, he finally struck against the Cath Bruig Empire. His strength was so overwhelming that the current cycle was thought to be the final one, as he seemed undefeatable. Combining his forces with the undead armies he could raise, the final victory of Balor seemed imminent; the Leveler would finally succeed in scouring all life from the face of the earth.
Fifty years before the events of The Fallen Lords, the capital of the Cath Bruig Empire, Muirthemne, was destroyed by Balor and his lieutenants, now collectively known as the Fallen Lords. The once-fertile farmlands surrounding the city became a desert known as "The Barrier". All human civilization east of the Cloudspine, and south to the borders of Forest Heart, was eradicated. Simultaneously, the Dwarven city of Myrgard was captured by the Ghôls. The entire surviving Dwarven population became refugees in the lands west of the Cloudspine, known as "The Province". With the lone exception of Forest Heart, the entire world east of the Cloudspine was now controlled by Balor. Thirty-three years later, the Fallen Lords crossed the Cloudspine into The Province and began laying waste to the cities therein. Covenant, the capital of The Province, fell twenty years later, and the last southern city, Tyr, was destroyed a decade after that, leaving only the free cities of the north to stand against Balor. It is at this point the game begins.
The game opens in the seventeenth year of The Province's war against the Fallen Lords, a war humanity is losing badly. All principal cities have fallen, with only Madrigal, Willow and Tandem still standing. The armies of humanity are led by "The Nine", a group of nine sorcerer-generals called "Avatara". The known members of the Nine include the leader Alric (former King of the Southern Provinces), Cu Roi, Rabican, Murgen and Maeldun. They recently found a severed, but still living, head buried in The Barrier, which they believe can turn the tide of the war. The Head claims to be an ancient enemy of Balor, and the Nine intend to use the intelligence it provides to their strategic advantage.
The game begins in the village of Crow's Bridge, where a small detachment of "The Legion" (an elite unit within the army) has remained behind to guard a bridge at the request of the locals. After repulsing an attack on the town, they move on to flank the army of Shiver, which is laying siege to Madrigal. With every major city in the Southern Provinces destroyed, Madrigal is now the headquarters of the Nine, so its fall would end the war. The Legion scores its first notable victory as they destroy Shiver and her armies. Also significant is that on the first night of the battle, Shiver is unexpectedly slain in a "Dream Duel" with Rabican, a victory made possible by the advice of the Head.
The Nine take advantage of this momentum and attempt to recover the "Total Codex" from the ruins of the city of Covenant. The Codex is a book that contains knowledge of future events. After finding the Codex and escaping the army of The Watcher, The Legion head east to meet Maeldun. They learn that a massive force is en route to attempt to hold Seven Gates and Bagrada (the middle and southern passes of the Cloudspine mountain range) against the army of The Deceiver, who is preparing to cross the Cloudspine to replace Shiver's forces. They need only hold out for a few days, until snow covers the passes. First, though, they must destroy a World Knot (a means of magical transportation) behind their lines, which could have allowed The Deceiver to send his forces directly into their territory. After they successfully hold the pass, they prepare for a tough winter, as the army of The Watcher remains behind their lines, and they plan to turn and hunt him down.
Around this time, Alric is captured by The Deceiver. Alric had been searching for a fabled suit of enchanted armor in The Barrier, on the advice of The Head, but he soon realized he had been deliberately sent into a trap. The Legion send a small group of heroes over the mountains in a hot air balloon, freeing Alric. Meanwhile, the rest of The Legion heads to Silvermines in search of the "Arm of The Watcher", lost when Balor freed him from captivity. The Deceiver also has a force in Silvermines searching for the Arm, as he and The Watcher were sworn enemies before Balor bound them to his will.
The Legion succeed in recovering the Arm, but the volcano Tharsis overlooking Seven Gates erupts, melting the snow in the passes, and allowing the forces of The Deceiver to cross the Cloudspine. At the same time, The Watcher surprises Rabican's army and crushes it. After this, The Watcher's forces press forward and attack the army of The Deceiver, moving away from the army of the Province. Maeldun uses this distraction to retake the passes of Seven Gates and Bagrada.
The following spring, Cu Roi and Murgen take the rested and reinforced Legion over the Cloudspine and into Forest Heart in an attempt to gain the support of the Forest Giants. However, Soulblighter's army launches a surprise attack and Soulblighter himself traps The Legion within the Tain. Small enough to hold in one's hand, the Tain contains a pocket universe of limitless capacity. Trapped within by Connacht a thousand years previously, the Myrkridia cannibalized each other until the last of them starved to death. Murgen searches for a way to free the 4000 men trapped inside, and eventually finds it, shattering the Tain, at which point Soulblighter flees, startled by the unexpected destruction of the powerful artifact. However, Cu Roi and Murgen do not survive the destruction of the Tain.
Messengers then inform The Legion that Maeldun has lost Bagrada and that The Deceiver has crossed the Cloudspine. They also learn of a civil war erupting in the army as soldiers rise up in support of The Head, as the surviving Avatara attempted to destroy it, based on Alric's theory that it set him up to be captured. Alric himself soon joins The Legion and a small group of Dwarves as they sneak into Myrgard in an attempt to slaughter as many of the occupying Ghôls as possible. They are able to destroy the Ghôl Godhead during their attack, securing their place in legend and retaking their homeland, killing the thousands of Ghôls occupying the city.
At this point, Alric convinces the surviving members of The Legion to head through the Dire Marsh towards the fortress of Balor itself. Their small force can do nothing to save Willow, Tandem, and Madrigral from the armies about to lay siege to them, but they could win a more important victory instead. During his captivity and interrogation by The Deceiver, Alric learned that the Fallen all draw their power from Balor. If Balor were to fall, all of his armies would collapse, leaving only the Fallen Lords themselves to contend with. As such, The Legion head towards the Dire Marsh, with The Watcher in front of them and Soulblighter behind them. Alric performs a daring feint, attacking Soulblighter's army, and then turning north to attack The Watcher himself using arrows tipped with bone fragments from his own lost arm. The Watcher is killed, scattering his army and clearing the way ahead. As they pass out of the Dire Marsh, they approach the abandoned Trow city of Rhi'Anon, in which Balor's fortress is located. Alric now comes into possession of one of the five legendary Eblis Stones, an extremely powerful magical artifact.
Alric orders the two thousand-two hundred surviving members of The Legion to attack the fortress of Balor in a suicidal feint. A half-million undead stand between them and the fortress. Alric then prepares to take one hundred hand-picked men through a World Knot to a spot directly on top of Balor's fortress. With Balor distracted by The Legion's suicidal charge, Alric believes that this small force can sneak up on him and assassinate him. During the nights leading up to this moment, the great comet that had been growing brighter and brighter in the sky has become brighter than the moon and is now visible by day. As they depart, Alric informs The Legion that Madrigal, the last human city, has fallen.
Alric plants a Myrkridian battle standard retrieved from within the Tain outside the fortress in an attempt to trick Balor into a rage-fueled tactical error, since he, as Connacht, trapped the Myrkridia within the Tain a thousand years earlier. The plan works. Balor is drawn from his fortress, furious at the sight of the Myrkridian battle standard. Alric takes the opportunity to immobilize him with the Eblis Stone, leaving him vulnerable to the swords of The Legion. They decapitate him and take his head to "The Great Devoid", a bottomless pit created by the Callieach, an extinct race of powerful magic users. Only by flinging his head into the void can Balor finally be destroyed. It is hoped that do so may even destroy the spirit of The Leveler itself rather than simply its mortal form. The thirty survivors of The Legion, transported to the Great Devoid by Alric, are ambushed by Soulblighter as they carry the head toward the pit, but despite their losses, they are successful. Balor is destroyed, and the Fallen are rendered powerless, their undead armies collapsing. Soulblighter flees the Great Devoid, having failed his master. The Deceiver is pursued to the Cloudspine, and trapped inside the Dramus River, separated from his scepter, and forced to use all of his magical power just to stay alive. The Dramus then freezes solid around him. With Balor, Shiver, The Watcher and The Deceiver all destroyed or imprisoned, and Soulblighter fled, the war between the Light and the Dark comes to an end.
Myth: The Fallen Lords originally supported both software rendering and 3Dfx Glide hardware-acceleration. A final v1.3 upgrade patch added support for RRedline, the native rendering API of the Rendition Verite line of graphic cards.
Myth continues to have a supportive fanbase. Although Bungie no longer develops the source code, they have released the code to a limited set of programmers for continuing development. These groups have updated the software for the latest operating systems, fixed various bugs, and added enhancements and features to both the Myth games themselves and the mapmaking tools. They also ported the Myth: The Fallen Lords single-player campaign to the Myth 2 game engine. The current Myth development group is Project Magma.
Game Revolution's Calvin Hubble rated the game a B+, calling it "one of the most impressive looking strategy games to hit the market," and arguing that "Myth utilizes some of the best graphics in the strategy genre today. While all objects throughout the game are the standard 2d sprites, the 3d engine creates great looking landscapes, and with the use of 3d acceleration, they are simply spectacular." However, he was critical of the difficulty level, finding the game far too hard on even its easiest setting. He concluded that "Myth is a great game to look at. After beating the first couple of levels, the enjoyment could quickly turn to nausea as try after try fails to pass one single level. The graphics and realism are breathtaking, if only the single player game wasn't so difficult! Experienced gamers will certainly get their money's worth out of this one, but novices should run screaming."
GameSpot's Michael E. Ryan scored the game 8.9 out of 10. He praised the complex and deep plot, the different styles of gameplay necessary for different missions, the level design and the range of available units. He was also impressed with the graphics, arguing that Myth "can rightfully claim its place among the best strategy games on the market."
- "Myth: The Fallen Lords (PC)". GameSpy. Retrieved October 19, 2013.
- Ryan, Michael E. (December 11, 1997). "Myth: The Fallen Lords Review". GameSpot. Retrieved August 10, 2013.
- Wen, Howard (June 10, 2004). "Keeping the Myths Alive". Linuxdevcenter.com. Retrieved December 22, 2012.
Fans of the Myth trilogy have taken this idea a step further: they have official access to the source code for the Myth games. Organized under the name MythDevelopers, this all-volunteer group of programmers, artists, and other talented people devote their time to improving and supporting further development of the Myth game series.
- "Project Magma Official Site". Project Magma. Retrieved August 10, 2013.
- "Myth: The Fallen Lords (PC)". Metacritic. Retrieved August 10, 2013.
- "Myth: The Fallen Lords for PC". GameRankings. Retrieved August 10, 2013.
- "Myth: The Fallen Lords (PC) Reviews". GameRankings. Retrieved September 4, 2013.
- Hubble, Calvin (May 6, 1998). "Myth: The Fallen Lords Review". Game Revolution. Retrieved August 10, 2013.