Myth II: Soulblighter
|Myth II: Soulblighter|
Official 1998 North American release box art featuring Soulblighter (center), a Berserk (left) and a Ghôl (right).
Loki Software (Linux)
|Composer(s)||Martin O'Donnell, Michael Salvatori|
Myth II: Soulblighter is a 1998 real-time tactics video game developed by Bungie and published by Bungie in North America and GT Interactive Software in Europe for Microsoft Windows, Mac OS and Linux. It is a sequel to Myth: The Fallen Lords and the second game in the Myth series.
Like the previous installment, Myth II 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. Players control small forces made up of a number of different units, each possessing their own strengths and weaknesses. 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), the strategy aspect of the gameplay is of paramount importance.
In both single and multiplayer games, players can utilize units in different ways; such as using different combat formations and special abilities, as well as making use of terrain. While some units from the previous Myth retain their special abilities, such as the Dwarf satchel charge and Journeyman healing, other units like the Bowman have new abilities. In the Bowman's case, he is able to fire a secondary fire arrow that can set the targeted area aflame, damaging nearby units, and can also use a knife as a last resort when in close combat. While some of the units seen in the first game aren't present in Soulblighter, such as the Forest Giants and Myrmidons, new units are available, such as Dwarven Mortars, Dark Trow and the Myrkridia, previously only mentioned in The Fallen Lords.
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).
The single-player campaign is only playable from the perspective of the Light, through a series of both linear and non-linear levels, with level stats and individual unit kill-counts provided at the end of each level. In multiplayer mode, the player can control both light and dark units.
The game is set sixty years after the Great War and the fall of Balor the Leveler, by which time the remaining armies of The Province, led by Alric, have managed to restore their lands, with the once fallen city of Madrigal now standing as the capital. The forces of the Dark comprise only a few scattered remnants, however, the fate of Balor's general - Soulblighter - remains unknown.
The story is told through a series of journal entries by a lone soldier who is part of a small force led by Commander Crüniac. While passing through the town of Tallow, the company is asked to investigate reports of grave robbing. At first little is thought of the matter until they arrive at Willow Creek. Originally believing the city to have been raided by bandits, they discover it is actually swarming with undead. After clearing the town, the soldiers are then sent to rescue a group being held at a cemetery by brigands. After freeing them, one is escorted back to Tallow where he reveals to the mayor that the instances of grave robbing lead back to Keep Kildaer, ruled by the sinister Baron Kildaer. With the help of an invisible dwarven pathfinder, Crüniac's forces sneak inside the Keep, killing Kildaer, and setting fire to the building. However, as they make their escape, a legion of undead march out of the gates in pursuit.
Crüniac is killed in the ensuing battle. With his last words, he tells the warrior Garrick that Soulblighter has returned. Garrick retrieves from his body a journal taken from the Baron's library, the journal of a soldier who fought with The Legion during the Great War (the same journal which formed the plot of The Fallen Lords). The journal later helps in locating the Total Codex, an ancient tome which speaks of events that have yet to transpire. From the Codex, Alric discerns that Soulblighter is trying to locate "The Summoner", a man who could resurrect the Myrkridia, a race of bloodthirsty wolf-like creatures who terrorised humanity for hundreds of years. In his search for The Summoner, Soulblighter marches through and destroys several major Cath Bruig cities on his way to Madrigal. Alric then learns that Shiver, killed during the Great War, has been resurrected by Soulblighter. Before setting sail, Alric and his men narrowly escape the now-resurrected Myrkridia.
Alric decides to find The Deceiver, a Fallen Lord who once fought for Balor, but who was always antagonistic towards his fellow Fallen Lords. He is eventually found and resurrected after being left for dead in a frozen lake at the end of the Great War. Allying himself with Alric, The Deceiver and a reluctant small force head to the ruins of Rhi'anon, the dominion of the Trow giants. By winning a game of the Trow's choosing, The Deceiver convinces them to join. With their help, Alric's forces recapture the lost city of Muirthemne, the former capital of the Cath Bruig, and brave its haunted catacombs in search of the legendary Ibis Crown. Alric is then crowned as the new Emperor of the Cath Bruig.
In order to quell the onslaught of Myrkridia, The Deceiver plans to travel to Forest Heart and locate a fragment of the Tain, a mystical artifact that once imprisoned the Myrkridia, his plan being to enter the Tain and kill The Summoner. After succeeding in this, The Deceiver launches a sneak attack on Soulblighter's camp. However, the attack fails, and he and his forces are imprisoned. However, Phelot, a shade supposedly allied with the Dark, frees one group of men, with the rest quickly fighting their way out. Once rescued, The Deceiver overwhelms Soulblighter, who turns into a murder of crows in an attempt to escape. He succeeds in escaping, but the Deceiver kills one of the crows, robbing him of much of his power and preventing him from fleeing in that manner again. Following the prison break, The Deceiver hunts down Shiver with a group of five heroes. In their confrontation, Shiver is betrayed by Phelot, who promptly lays waste to her army. The Deceiver then kills Shiver, but her death triggers a devastating backlash that kills The Deceiver at the same time.
Alric and Soulblighter then lead their armies to one final confrontation at the foot of the volcano Tharsis. Soulblighter is pushed back into the volcano itself where he plans a last desperate attack against the Light by shattering the Cloudspine mountain range itself, an act that would cause widespread devastation over the land. Alric eventually tracks him down and breaks the rock Soulblighter stands on, causing him to plummet to his death in the molten lava.
The narrator concludes that humanity once again rebuilds its lands, and speaks of the cycle of The Leveler, that he is never dead, but only returns in a different form every millennium. However, Soulblighter was not The Leveler; he merely tried to force the cycle, failing, and as a result he may have even broken the pattern. Whether or not this outcome is true will not be known for another nine hundred and forty years.
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. With Myth II, Bungie introduced larger screen resolution and Direct3D rendering for Windows and RAVE rendering for Mac.
The original game was released on November 30, 1998. In November 1999, it was re-released with an expansion titled Myth II: Chimera, as part of Myth: The Total Codex, a package which also included the first game. The release also included modding tools. These tools, entitled "Fear" and "Loathing", allow the gamer to create new levels, units, and maps. This has allowed the community to create a large number of mods. The game was later ported to Linux by Loki Software.
Following their acquisition of the Myth franchise after Bungie was acquired by Microsoft in 2001, Take-Two Interactive released Myth II: Green Berets in July (set in the Vietnam War, Green Berets was powered by the Myth 2 game engine, and included a copy of the main game) and Myth II: Worlds in October (which included two disks of fan-created add-ons plus the main game).
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. Although the game is over a decade old, new (community patches) are still being developed. The current Myth development group is Project Magma.
Game Revolution's Calvin Hubble scored the game an A- (he had scored the original a B+), calling it "both one of the best sequels to hit the scene and one of the finest titles on the RTS market." He praised the level design and gameplay variety, writing "Myth II offers some of the most creative and immersive environments in the industry." He felt that the game improved on its predecessor in virtually every way; "In the end, whether playing single player or multiplayer, Myth II offers the best real-time strategy experience in the industry. It has everything that made Myth one of the best games of last year, plus a free set of steak knives."
GameSpot's Michael E. Ryan was equally impressed, scoring the game 9.3 out of 10 (he had scored the original 8.9) and arguing that "Myth II is about as good as a computer game can possibly be." He too felt it improved on the original game in every way. He was especially impressed with the graphics and the sound, and concluded that "Bungie basically improved all the good features in Myth; added a number of gameplay, multiplayer, and graphical enhancements; and then threw in some slick and powerful editing tools to boot. The end result is one of the best games to be released this year, and one that should easily find a home in any serious gamer's library."
IGN's Tal Blevins scored the game 8.9 out of 10, saying "Myth II lives up to (and surpasses) all of the hype surrounding this long-awaited title." He praised Bungie for seeking fan feedback for the first game, and implementing the most requested changes, which he felt were most obvious in the interface. He concluded by "highly recommending this game to anyone, even those who have never played a RTS game before. Sure, it's very similar to its predecessor, but Myth was a great game and Myth II breathes enough new life back into this series to qualify as an incredibly fun game with tons of replayability."
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