I base all of this review on the Complete version. This is the second and last expansion pack to The Restoration of Erathia, the third Heroes of Might and Magic release. Where the first of the EP's in its content made perfectly clear that there truly was not a whole heck of a lot to introduce to the game, this seems to kind of just accept that fact, and basically bring nothing new, except seven campaigns. They are once again one long, connected story, unlike those of Armageddon's Blade(meanwhile, they didn't entirely steer clear of going back and forth between what side you are on from one level to another), and together act as a prequel to that which this is meant to add to. The last of them is ridiculously long, perhaps in an attempt to distract us from how little this holds. Quality over quantity, guys. There seems to be a CGI cut-scene for every single level, if one or two is reused. Worse, though, is that most are simple, brief ones that just play on a loop until the briefing is over, and while that was utilized before in the series, it's never looked quite as silly as it does at points of this. I defy anyone to not crack a smile at either of the handshakes that last an eternity. The plot isn't bad, though it would have helped if they didn't keep reusing the same twist, or at least not revealed it on, you know, the first pages of the manual. This has everything the other one brought with it, and it does include a couple of thus far unseen things. Moat Damage, for example, that harms enemies moving onto the water, lava or other that is outside of the Castle. Eight new Special Terrain Types, too, such as Holy Ground and Evil Fog, which affect the morale of both good and bad forces, obviously in favor of the one it is, uh, "for". It's got 38 new stand-alone scenarios. There's a nice feature allowing you to select the exact difficulty setting, out of the five, for each individual map. Now, the genuinely cool, in fact, absolutely awesome, new thing to this is the Artifact Combining. Oh yeah. They picked a bunch of similar ones, some stronger than others, and made it possible to put them together into one, massively powerful one. Oh, and you don't even lose the effects the separate ones give. The groups that can be made into one vary in size, and how efficient they are follow that nicely. How would you like to regenerate all spell points every day? No archery penalties, even when the foe is right in front of them? What about a 30% increase in the Necromancy ability, and the possibility of raising the dead in battle as Zombies, Wights or even Liches? And that's not all of them. While these may sound as though they give one an unfair advantage, do remember, you still have to collect 3 to 9(!) different ones that fit together, and have them in one place. That is probably what is going to provide the most longevity to Heroes III in this. Apart from that, the character gallery is nice. This does a great job of providing background for some you already know, and taking the focus off of Queen Catherine and others. The voice acting is slightly inferior, at least at points, to earlier in the franchise. I'd say they talk more, too, and their lines are well thought out. There isn't a lot of humor in this, so it's pretty unimpressive that there's so much repetition in it. The writing remains magnificent, and may not be as extensive in "telling you everything twice"(uh, I get that you want us to follow the story, but double-booking? Some of us watch the cinematics *and* read the text at the beginning, you know) as the ones before it. There could be more turns and developments, for how long it is, and how many there are in the others. This comes with no new units, so all that there are of fresh ones are the 23 neutral creatures already added by the other one. There are tweaks to the old ones, to ensure that combat is entirely balanced. I haven't found any bugs or a single problem with stability in this, that is continually maintained. The changes are very welcome. This works with both that came before it, provided all three are properly installed. They didn't take away the excellent stuff that was already there, either. It's packed with mythological beings, many with specific, fitting abilities, that can face off against each other. The amount of them is immense, and they are all sufficiently distinguished from one another. The music is the same beautiful, orchestral score, that is epic whenever it needs to be. All of the audio is incredible, with sounds, ambient and specific ones alike, being spot-on. The animation is top of the line for when it was made, as are the graphics, if they are both dated today. This is full of choices, allowing each to customize the Heroes they enlist to their liking. The spell books are an impeccable part of these. All the designs are imaginative and amazing. Fighting is like a nifty, if quick, chess match. If you run out of untried levels, you can create more(there's a Random Map Generator, an Editor etc.), or look for someone else's surely there are sites on the web for that sort of thing. OK, fair enough, I won't call you Shirley. There is no harsh language. The violence is all mild enough that anyone, of any age can try this. I again bring attention to that there is thematic stuff that religious people might be offended by. Sexuality is again limited to several costumes that can rightfully be described as being rather risqué. I recommend this to any fan of these titles, and of turn-based role playing strategy games. 7/10
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