The World of Xeen is in deep trouble again and it falls on your shoulders once more to come to the rescue. You command a party of six adventurers. You start with a default party but I suggest you drop them off at the nearest inn and create your own. Character creation is a simple affair but you can spend a long time trying to get those roles just right. As usual you will need fighters, spellcasters and thieves. I found that fighting types who can cast spells such as paladins are a real advantage instead of barbarians or knights. Pick at least one sorcerer, one cleric and one thief. You will need them. You can create both male and female classes of different races.
Combat is turn based with a suitably useful interface from which you can attack, change equipment, use special objects, cast spells or run away. There is a vast amount of special armours, weapons, charms, medallions and special quest objects. You are given many mini-quests which are recorded in your journal and quest objects go to a special menu so that you cannot accidentally throw them at some big, hairy ogre.
No frills ... but lots of thrills
The graphics are very two dimensional and the animation is rather dated but they are colorful and have a cartoon like quality. The main game window is approximately one third of the screen. Sound too, is quite basic but functional. When approaching the cities you may encounter a full screen graphic of a guard who sounds very much like Arnie in Terminator 2. Be warned ... if you are not carrying a pass he will tell you to leave with a VERY strong expletive.
The gameplay, however, is what counts and I have always enjoyed these games. Certain areas of the game are just too hard at lower experience levels, but you will quickly discover which and there always seems to be somewhere else to explore. There are magic wells scattered liberally throughout the game world where you can get temporarily increased powers. This involves quite a bit of to-ing and fro-ing as you replenish your skills. There is also a very useful spell that enables you to teleport to the spot where you first set it. The spell's name is "Lloyd's Beacon". In Swords you are prevented from returning to the city of Hart early in the game ... if you cast this spell in the city before leaving you will not regret it later.
Navigation and skills
Auto mapping is a good old fashioned top down affair with coordinates to help you find your way around. There is also a spell that will reveal areas you have not yet visited. This is very useful! Another nice touch is that even though you have the experience points you do not go up a level until you can find a trainer. He wants money too, no free rides here, and he may not have the skills to train you past a certain level.
The puzzles in the game are quite varied from riddles and anagrams to secret doors and levers. None would be too taxing for regular role-players but would be a challenge nevertheless. The emphasis is balanced nicely between combat, puzzles and exploration. Compared with the previous games about half the monsters are new. One series of monsters are morphs and change to another form when you hit them, I thought this was a interesting idea.
A Mighty game package
If you enjoyed the Might and Magic series you will enjoy Swords of Xeen. If anything, I think it may be slightly tougher than the rest of the series and the puzzles a little more devious. It was, after all, written by a group of gamers.
After you finally defeated Lord Xeen in Might and Magic 4+5 (World of Xeen) among the ruins of Greyhaven you find a magic pyramid that seems to be the gateway to a new world. Nothing is known about the gate except that Xeen used it a lot, and thus the Dragon Pharoh sends you out to see what threat lies on the other side.
The gate leads to Havec, a new world filled with new creatures and dangers for Might and Magic veterans in this, a high-level, stand-alone scenario that continues your adventures in the World of Xeen saga with the same engine and gameplay mechanics.
People who downloaded Might and Magic: Swords of Xeen have also downloaded:
Might and Magic: World of Xeen, Might and Magic III: Isles of Terra, Might and Magic 6: The Mandate of Heaven, Might and Magic: Darkside of Xeen, Might and Magic: Clouds of Xeen, Might and Magic 2: Gates to Another World, Might and Magic 8: Day of the Destroyer, Might and Magic 7: For Blood and Honor
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