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Default RPGWatch Feature - Might & Magic X Review

April 25th, 2014, 13:49
Roberta was rumored to work on some facebook "game", but I don't think that's true. Probably was some PR fraud to boost sales.

Speaking of names… Would you like to see Jennifer Hepler kickstarter?
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June 3rd, 2014, 23:21
Indeed I would support a Jennifer Hepler kickstarter, she is a good writer and that she don't enjoy combat in games is a big plus
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July 19th, 2014, 19:36
I just finished this game. Keep in mind that I have finished all of the M&M games (excluding 5…started but never finished), so I am a big fan of the series. Overall, it is a huge step down from MM7 (my favorite).

Pros:

+ Basic game mechanics are fun
+ Good length (56 hours, according to Steam)

Cons:

- Missile weapons are basically useless
- No in-game log of trainers and locations
- Too much backtracking and no Town Portal/Lloyd's Beacon (Spirit Beacon spell is a poor substitute)
- Overly reliant on cheap ambushes, i.e. monsters spawning out of nowhere after performing certain actions
- Annoying difficulty spikes can potentially make the game unwinnable, depending on your party combination
- No respawning enemies (limits available experience, skill progression, and your ability to level up relics)
- End game is a tedious slog
- Many of the puzzles are obscure, tedious, and annoying
- DLC starting area is a pain in the ass
- Bizarre performance issues at fixed points in the game (I have a really beefy rig, so this is unacceptable)
- Step-based movement adds absolutely nothing and restricts your viewport in certain areas
- You can't run from combat (you can't even move at all when an enemy is in melee range)

All in all, I would rate this game a mediocre 6.5. It adds absolutely nothing to the Might and Magic brand. It's not horrible, but it certainly isn't even close to being good. There are much better games out there. Play at your own risk.
Last edited by gozioso; July 19th, 2014 at 20:20.
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July 19th, 2014, 20:03
I can concur with most of your points, except respawning enemies. That's really not something experienced RPgamers would want. Also, puzzles are certainly not obscure or tedious, though you may find them annoying if you wish.

It's simply a niche product. If you are into oldschool, turn based games, it's probably in the "good" range for you, not "mediocre". I have to disagree with step movement not adding anything; you have to think about the order of actions a lot more than you had to i.e. in MM7. In that phase (6-8) it was pretty obscured how long spells would last or when your characters would be ready for their next action.

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July 19th, 2014, 20:19
In reality, I AM a fan of old school, turn-based games, but that doesn't mean that I want to go back to that time in game development history. Wizardry 8 is a game that I loved because it was a very old school game at heart, but it had all of the convenient trappings of modern games. Furthermore, I just played Original Sin (which is also very old school) and absolutely loved it. M&M X is simply not a good game, in my opinion. There is some fun to be had, but there is also lots of frustration.

As far as the puzzles, you will have a hard time convincing me that pressure plate combination puzzles are a wonderful thing. There was one solution that had over 10 moves (for a 3x3 grid). It was simply ridiculous. I play these games for fun, and that is not my idea of a good time.
Last edited by gozioso; July 19th, 2014 at 20:30.
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July 19th, 2014, 20:41
Originally Posted by gozioso View Post
In reality, I AM a fan of old school, turn-based games, but that doesn't mean that I want to go back to that time in game development history. Wizardry 8 is a game that I loved because it was a very old school game at heart, but it had all of the convenient trappings of modern games. Furthermore, I just played Original Sin (which is also very old school) and absolutely loved it. M&M X is simply not a good game, in my opinion. There is some fun to be had, but there is also lots of frustration.
I can't identify a lot of your grievances as being connected to the oldschool style though. Balance issues aren't oldschool, or even if they were, MMX actually goes against the tradition here (when was a druid EVER as useful as a sorcerer in this series?!). Yeah, if pressure plate puzzles fit your definition of being obscure… though I have to say, puzzles are only an ingredient in the RPG recipe. No one plays RPG's solely for the puzzles.

MMX does add conveniences. Free look is one of them. Good balance across classes and parties is another. Combining the step movement of the early games with the option of using ranged weapons in melee as in the latter games also is noteworthy - ranged weaponry has its uses and, while I agree it's underpowered, you can still build a succesful party around archery. Customization of characters is also much stronger than in the past games. If you want a sorcerer who just does damage with wands, or a tank who can actually block attacks (a novelty in the series!), you can do that.

I think we always have to have contenders in mind when we rate a game, and there aren't many offerings right now in this league. Yeah, D:OS is a good game too, but that as well has its flaws. I'm not playing D:OS right now because of huge balancing issues.

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July 19th, 2014, 21:17
Pros:

+ Basic game mechanics are fun
+ Good length (56 hours, according to Steam)
Yep, played more than 60 hours, and didn't play the new DLC.

Cons:

- Missile weapons are basically useless
- No in-game log of trainers and locations
Completely agree with these two.

- Too much backtracking and no Town Portal/Lloyd's Beacon (Spirit Beacon spell is a poor substitute)
- Overly reliant on cheap ambushes, i.e. monsters spawning out of nowhere after performing certain actions
Hrm, I think I can see that it can be annoying. However it never really bothered me. Running a long way now and then is ok to me. Also never had issues with ambushes.

- Annoying difficulty spikes can potentially make the game unwinnable, depending on your party combination
I don't see the problems in difficulty spikes. I saw them as well (like in the very beginning in the lighthouse when enemies came in from both sides) but I see the problem more in balancing issues overall. Some classes just outperformed others by far. The Skill and therefore class as well as the item balancing was quite bad which indeed could lead to unwinnable situations.

- No respawning enemies (limits available experience, skill progression, and your ability to level up relics)
Well, it would have solved problems with gimped groups (see balancing above) but aside from that I liked that they didn't respawn. In fact my characters were all "godlike" at the end of the game with normal XP.

- End game is a tedious slog
You mean like some dungeons where you needed to "grind" through, big groups after each corner? That annoyed me as well, especially as at this point (last part of the game) the density was very high but the challenge was almost non existant.

- Many of the puzzles are obscure, tedious, and annoying
I actually liked the puzzles a lot. BUT I can completely understand that they are not everyone's cup of tea. I think it was the air section in the element temple which had an extremely hard riddle where I thought like "well, I like riddles and have no problems to sink hours in it, but how should 'normal players' get past this?". And I remember that there was one word-riddle where the answer was in a dialogue at a different place in the world, whereas all other word-riddles (chests) could be answered straight away.But aside of these two (and some plate riddles like in the "starting zone" which were too easy I liked them quite much.
I am wondering if you liked grimrock as riddles were a big element there as well.

- Bizarre performance issues at fixed points in the game (I have a really beefy rig, so this is unacceptable)
Didn't have big performance issues, playing on an older machine (Phenom IIX3, GF GTX 260). But yeah, it wasn't optimized well. But as it didn't require fast reaction times or so I didn't have a problem with not having 60 fps or so all the time.

- Step-based movement adds absolutely nothing and restricts your viewport in certain areas
Imho it added flair and it's also a game design question on how the game is structured. I liked that approach.

- You can't run from combat (you can't even move at all when an enemy is in melee range)
I understand that they did this for balancing reasons but yeah…wasn't really an elegant solution.

All in all, I would rate this game a mediocre 6.5. It adds absolutely nothing to the Might and Magic brand. It's not horrible, but it certainly isn't even close to being good. There are much better games out there. Play at your own risk.
Personally I'd rate it more like 7.5 to 8. But I can understand if you'd rate it lower. With MMX it strongly depends on whether or not you are ok with it's mechanics and riddles. Just because you like RPGs or the latest MM iterations it doesn't mean you will like MMX.

In order to enjoy the game you should think about the following points:
-Does class imbalance bother you? Does it bother you that you need to invest time into the skills and classes before even starting the game? If yes, you will have a hard time.
-Do old school riddles bother you? If yes, you will either be annoyed by them or you look them up which takes away an element of gameplay.
-Does step-movement bother you? If yes, then you will have a hard time with the game overall.

But if you are ok or like these points you can definitely give it a try.
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July 20th, 2014, 05:06
Originally Posted by gozioso View Post
I just finished this game. Keep in mind that I have finished all of the M&M games (excluding 5…started but never finished), so I am a big fan of the series. Overall, it is a huge step down from MM7 (my favorite).
Similarly, I've played and finished them all except MM2. I felt overall that the game was a significant step up from MM9, yet inferior to MM 3-7.
Just a couple of responses to your points, given I only completed MMX a couple of weeks ago myself:

- Missile weapons are basically useless
I don't think this is the case at all. My hunter was able to wipe out many enemies before they even got into Melee range, especially once bow mastery was achieved.
I don't think ranged combat quite had the visceral feel that it had in WoX though.

- No in-game log of trainers and locations
I don't think this is really valid criticism, as it is easily solved by taking notes either on paper or better yet, on the map of the game. It's meant to be an old school game after all.

- Too much backtracking and no Town Portal/Lloyd's Beacon (Spirit Beacon spell is a poor substitute)
Not a problem for me, as there was always seemingly something to find or a cave to return to when the party was more capable.

- Annoying difficulty spikes can potentially make the game unwinnable, depending on your party combination
Again, another strength of the game I think and something which all of the Might and Magics have. I agree that there were moments when you had to strategically search for encounters that the party could handle, but I think that's a good thing.

- No respawning enemies (limits available experience, skill progression, and your ability to level up relics)
I don't usually agree with Joxer on many things, but here is one of those few times: I'm happy that there were no respawns, as that would make the game more tedious.

- Many of the puzzles are obscure, tedious, and annoying
No dramas for me. The riddles were actually a little disappointing I found - certainly not the most eloquent or memorable. Still, it was good to see this type of gameplay offered in a classic rpg experience again.

- Bizarre performance issues at fixed points in the game (I have a really beefy rig, so this is unacceptable)
I fully concur with you here. (See my own mini-review below)

- Step-based movement adds absolutely nothing and restricts your viewport in certain areas
It's subjective, but I love World of Xeen, so I actually like it.

- You can't run from combat (you can't even move at all when an enemy is in melee range)
Another point which I fully agree with you on. This was certainly unfortunate given that it is possible to flee in previous games.

This is a small repost, but perhaps here was a better place to write my own mini-review of the game in the first place:

I recently upgraded to Windows 7 on account of how this game behaved on my old XP setup. Whilst I was arguably well overdue to do this upgrade anyway (the OS no longer being supported and all) I still had some initial minor misgivings that a game with such an "old school spirit" wouldn't play so well on older technology.

I still had some issues with game performance here and there i.e slow downs whilst walking outdoors, some heavy increase in GPU fan speeds when in stores, even a couple of early crashes due to overheating. However, I gradually ironed these problems out and got stuck into it.

The game wasn't bad, I had some decent fun with it. It's certainly an improvement on IX, though I still think its inferior to 3-8 essentially overall, due to the lack of really memorable or deep dungeons.

At any rate, I've just recently finished my first playthrough with characters at level 32. I went for a fairly typical party: Dwarven Defender, Orc Hunter, Elven Druid and a Human Freemage. I found it amusing that my dwarf never really got close to my orc for pure damage output, despite having a might of 110 compared to 30 odd. Spears can be quite brutal it seems with high perception. Having grandmastery in shield also saved the party on more than one occasion!

Some more reflections:
I found that I had a ridiculous amount of gold leftover - some 400,000. Basically I couldn't really find very much to spend it on given the nature of relics and the plethora of loot. The game was probably the most tricky just after Act II, with exploration and trial and error being key to finding the most logical places for progression.
There were quite a few side-quests that I decided to leave until another playthrough, even one or two optional bosses that I never got around to.
Oh and a certificate of completion as from MM6-MM9 would have been really nice!
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Last edited by Pessimeister; July 20th, 2014 at 08:13.
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July 20th, 2014, 07:02
You're entitled to your opinion, but you might think a few things thru first. For example:
Originally Posted by gozioso View Post
- You can't run from combat (you can't even move at all when an enemy is in melee range)
Once the monsters close to melee, what will you gain from running? You move a square away, they close the gap, you move a square away, they close the gap, until the end of time. Lots of time wasted without any change to the tactical situation, with the added potential of running into another group of monsters while you're at it (bad for the party, and the engine can't handle that anyway).
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July 20th, 2014, 08:30
Originally Posted by dteowner View Post
Once the monsters close to melee, what will you gain from running?
How about the joy of avoiding another reload? Admittedly you can use the environment often enough to negate most of the difficult situations.
However, I think the over arching point still stands:
That not having a fleeing mechanism of some kind was an unfortunate omission from the game from a design standpoint.
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July 20th, 2014, 21:36
Originally Posted by Pessimeister View Post
How about the joy of avoiding another reload? Admittedly you can use the environment often enough to negate most of the difficult situations.
However, I think the over arching point still stands:
That not having a fleeing mechanism of some kind was an unfortunate omission from the game from a design standpoint.
Again, you're not thinking it thru. You can flee until the monsters get to melee range. Once they get that close, they can follow you at melee range forever. You could run from one end of the map to the other and the monsters would still be right there because both of you move 1 square per turn. No change to the tactical situation and a lot of time wasted. No save/reload avoided because the critters are still right there next you. Unless you're proposing that you hit a "flee" button and your party magically transforms into Usain Bolt while the monsters stand around admiring your world-class sprint in the opposite direction?
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July 20th, 2014, 21:51
Well it wouldn't be the first game to implement a flee mechanic.
As far as I remember Wizardry allowed you to flee. If you were successful, you automatically ran several tiles in the opposite direction, with some random elements, so that you might actually end up in a worse position than before.
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July 20th, 2014, 21:56
^ Such a mechanic would strike me as being very oldschool in the negative sense though. Pardon me if I don't follow this up with some brilliant design philosophies - I just think it's simply bound to look ridiculous in today's games. Possibly because, as you pointed out, it might not be an advantageous thing to do anyway.

You're majestically blobbering down a dungeon hallway only to be rudely interrupted by your party scurrying away from a dangerous battle like roaches.

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July 20th, 2014, 23:45
Originally Posted by Pessimeister View Post
The game wasn't bad, I had some decent fun with it. It's certainly an improvement on IX, though I still think its inferior to 3-8 essentially overall, due to the lack of really memorable or deep dungeons.
I agree that it wasn't a bad game, but calling it Might and Magic X invites comparison with the prior games. The fact that an entry in the series from 1999 far exceeds the offering from 2014 is not encouraging (and invites harsher criticism than if it were like Legend of Grimrock, i.e. an homage to Dungeon Master). As far as the puzzles, I found the pressure plate "permutations" puzzles to be the most annoying. Riddles are ok (in moderation), even though I'm not exactly great at solving them. As I said, the game isn't horrible, but it is definitely a weak entry in the M&M series.

Originally Posted by dteowner View Post
Again, you're not thinking it thru. You can flee until the monsters get to melee range. Once they get that close, they can follow you at melee range forever. You could run from one end of the map to the other and the monsters would still be right there because both of you move 1 square per turn. No change to the tactical situation and a lot of time wasted. No save/reload avoided because the critters are still right there next you. Unless you're proposing that you hit a "flee" button and your party magically transforms into Usain Bolt while the monsters stand around admiring your world-class sprint in the opposite direction?
There was one part in the DLC where I was probably 20 squares away from the nearest enemy, and they refused to approach any closer. I had already killed the melee attackers, yet there was no way to disengage from combat without killing everyone. It's pretty stupid design, if you ask me.
Last edited by gozioso; July 20th, 2014 at 23:57.
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July 20th, 2014, 23:59
Originally Posted by gozioso View Post
The fact that an entry in the series from 1999 far exceeds the offering from 2014 is not encouraging
Fact? I think you mean opinion.
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July 21st, 2014, 00:17
Originally Posted by JDR13 View Post
Fact? I think you mean opinion.
Nice try, Mr. Pedant. It is most assuredly a fact that I find this game to be inferior to MM7 (I have already stated as much). It's obviously only my opinion. However, I believe that if you apply a reasonable person standard (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reasonable_person), then there is no way that you could conclude that MM7 is not the superior game (excluding graphics).
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July 21st, 2014, 00:50
Originally Posted by gozioso View Post
Nice try, Mr. Pedant. It is most assuredly a fact that I find this game to be inferior to MM7 (I have already stated as much). It's obviously only my opinion. However, I believe that if you apply a reasonable person standard (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reasonable_person), then there is no way that you could conclude that MM7 is not the superior game (excluding graphics).
Of course. I mean… there's no arguing with something that's backed up by a Wikipedia link.
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July 21st, 2014, 02:33
Even WITHOUT adjusting for inflation, I wouldn't be surprised if MMVII had a bigger budget than MMX…

The fact is that Ubisoft took a chance and agreed to pursue another installment in a long-dead series. It's a success - both as a game and financially. To cry foul because it doesn't meet your standards is foolish and narrow-minded; perhaps now with this limited success, Ubisoft will authorize a larger budget for another M&M title w/ a world & gameplay more akin to MMVI/VII.
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July 21st, 2014, 02:55
Giving honest opinions about my perceived shortcomings of this game is not "crying foul", nor is it foolish or narrow-minded. To be quite honest, I felt the review here was way too generous, and I wanted to give an alternative point of view. If I feel that it doesn't measure up to my standards for a good game, then so be it. You are free to disagree. I'm done with the game, so I can move on to the next one. As I said, my purpose was to give a more balanced perspective on this game. Mission accomplished.
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July 21st, 2014, 13:13
Originally Posted by dteowner View Post
Unless you're proposing that you hit a "flee" button and your party magically transforms into Usain Bolt while the monsters stand around admiring your world-class sprint in the opposite direction?
Yes, I'm specifically referring to having an actual flee option during melee combat for when things aren't quite going your way, which practically all of the Might and Magics have had in some form up to this point.

I'm sure there are a variety of ways to implement it, I'm no designer or programmer, but one idea might be a spell or item of some kind which also has some kind of negative effect to prevent abuse. Dark Souls even has such items. It'd be a last resort naturally but as I said, it'd be handy to avoid some reloads.
Let's call it "the better part of valor" option.
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