Finally someone has the guts to create a real-time combat game about, of all things, combat.
Myth: The Fallen Lords is not a game for the diplomatic game players among us. In Myth, players are assigned a small cadre of troops for each mission, be it multiplayer against human foes online or undead computer armies. Armchair generals have to figure out how to direct their force’s strengths against opponent’s weaknesses. Sun Tzu would be proud.
Farming, mining uber-minerals, diplomacy and constructing bases have all been delightfully left out of Myth. With all their energies directed at making realistic hand-to-hand combat, Bungie Software’s team would have had to trip up very badly to fail at this one. Instead they charged ahead with a game that may make the industry take pause to reassess real-time strategy games.
The graphics are stunning. Low hills rise in the distance, giving your archers a greater firing range if they can take the peak. Your infantry’s movements are reflected in muddy pools they march across and dwarf’s Molotov cocktails flame up ominously before exploding, often sending arms, legs and heads sailing in bloody arcs across the screen.
And the terrain is not just a pretty picture. Archer’s arrows sometimes get snagged on tree tops or caught in a cottage’s thatched roof when fighting in tight quarters. If you can lure your enemy into unfavorable terrain, you can ambush them in narrow passes or tear them apart while they vulnerably wade across a river. Move your troops into an unfavorable landscape and the same grim fate is likely to happen.
The computer AI is very smart and offers a good challenge for even experienced gamers. Enemy troops will retreat if overwhelmed, often trying to lure you into ambush but sometimes just trying to save their skin.
Playing online against human opponents, anything goes. We never saw the Bungie server with fewer than 40 people playing games at once, a real tribute to the game’s online playability. We would have liked to see more maps available to play online, but adding new playing fields should be little problem.
Most of the complaints our testers had with the game were fixed in version 1.1, a free upgrade Bungie is making available through their Web pages at http://www.bungie.com. One of the most annoying problems, not being able to zoom out enough to see as far as your troops sight range, has been corrected. Another that made it hard to face your troops in a certain direction was also cleaned up in the new release.
Bungie’s previous titles, though well done, are nothing that would have led us to expect the creation of Myth. The game could very well put the company on the gaming map as a major player, as it should. For real-time combat with no strings attached, the question gamers need to ask themselves is simple: Got Myth?