Making a sequel to a game that's a huge hit is probably one of the most grueling, stressful tasks ever to face a game developer, and one that is usually not met with success. This is easily evident, as for every Civilization II, SimCity 3000, or System Shock 2, there are twenty Uprising II's or Command and Conquer: Tiberian Sun's. A sequel can be a risky proposition...do you make it a revolutionary or evolutionary sequel, either going in an all new direction or sticking with a tried and true formula, simply adding more of what made it great in the first place. Well, one can only imagine how the folks at Bungie felt when they undertook the task of making a sequel to their mega-hit, Myth: The Fallen Lords. The original Myth was a revolutionary breath of fresh air, because while the market at the time was saturated with lots of "me-too" real-time strategy titles, Myth did something totally different, such as totally throwing resource management out the window, and bringing the genre into full 3D acceleration. Myth also did something different from most strategy games...it had an integral story that was actually good. Can a developer build on this success and make the game better than the original? In the case of Myth II: Soulblighter, the answer is a resounding yes.
The beginning of Myth II grabs you right by the throat and won't let go to the very end. Like the original Myth, the story in Myth II is very important to every mission you'll play. The story begins with stories of people being abducted and taken to graveyards, and then later returning as the undead to ravage the people. It's from here that an intricate plot is spun for you through the use of gorgeous cut-scenes and through the missions themselves. I won't talk about the plot anymore, lest I spoil all the delicious surprises and twists contained within. The missions in which much of the story is presented are varied, challenging, and interesting. These aren't your typical hack and slash missions, as many will involve intricate objectives that will require some real tactical finesse. The designers really went all out in the mission and level design, both of which show an incredible amount of innovation and imagination.
While the story may be wonderful in Myth II, it's the gameplay that really shines, both in single and multi player, a claim that many games can't make. The game takes place on a fully 3D battlefield, and one needs to take this into account when putting their tactics into effect. Line of sight, gravity, and even weather will come into play as you vanquish your foes. The game gives you full camera and unit control through both the keyboard and the mouse, and the interface is easy to use and efficient. There's a tutorial scenario that explains the usage of both the camera and the use of the mouse in selecting and manipulating units. This is a great place to get started if you're not used to the interface or never played the first game. Effective camera and unit controls are both necessary to success on the battlefield.
The battlefields you'll be fighting on are absolutely gorgeous. Myth II takes the 3D accelerated engine from Myth and tweaks it, adding multiple resolutions, Direct3D support, and much more detail. The result is one of the most beautiful strategy games ever released. The beauty that this engine is capable of is one that I can barely put into words, but here goes. This engine renders the battlefield in a detail rarely seen, with fully interactive foliage, wildlife, and weather effects. The battlefield can be viewed from any angle, thanks to the movable camera, and while this is crucial for tactical success, it gives one the opportunity to see the sights as well. The maps may not be huge, but they're so detailed that no one will care.
The objects and units that populate these beautiful maps are also quite lovely. The game renders units in so much detail that you feel you're watching them from a tree, it's that good looking. This engine also renders carnage better than anyone else's. The amount of blood and death that permeates the battlefield is both fulfilling and gorgeous, with generous amounts of blood and body parts flying everywhere. The violence can be turned off for those younger players, but you wouldn't want to give them this game anyway, so that option can be left alone.
We now come to the multiplayer component of the Myth II, which is second to none. One can play through both a TCP/IP connection. The gameplay is so much fun and the players are such a blast to play with that one can always find a good time. The mods that have been made with the included editors (discussed below) range from downright hilarious (from a Lego mod to a mod based on Soccer using explosives). This multiplayer action guarantees a long life, and droves of people can still be found playing this game.
Finally, we come to my favorite piece of any worthy title, a comprehensive mission and map editor, or in this case, editors. There's something to be said for a developer that includes its own development tools for the use of its users, and in Myth II's case, we have two editors, dubbed Fear and Loathing. These two editors allow you to make just about anything you could want, from maps to units to graphics to stories. The editors are quite hard to use, and undocumented, but some astute folks have made some great modifications for Myth II, from World War II to Lego.
Overall, what we have here is a sequel that takes what made the first game fantastic, tweaked it, added some stuff, and listened to the players who played the original Myth. The result is a fantastic sequel that shows that a sequel can be a lot better than the original while being innovative in its own right. If you have any interest in fantasy warfare, great graphics, fast tactical action, and lots of good violence thrown in for good measure, than you'll love Myth II.
Graphics: Beautiful...stunning...mere words cannot convey their beauty...
Sound: Each unit and object has a sound effects, and while some are great, most (like the Dwarves) are downright hilarious.
Enjoyment: If this sounds like it interests you, it probably will enthrall you once you play it.
Replay Value: With FANTASTIC multiplayer action and two comprehensive editors, this one will be around on people's hard drive's for ages.
People who downloaded Myth 2: Soulblighter have also downloaded:
Myth: The Fallen Lords, Myth 3: The Wolf Age, MechCommander Gold, StarCraft, MechCommander 2, Nemesis of the Roman Empire, No Man's Land, Medieval Lords: Build, Defend, Expand
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