There’s a couple of schools of thought as to how you work out the best person to review a game. Some say you should get fans, people who know that series back to front, have played it all and have many even once or twice pretended to be a game character at random fancy dress parties.
You know, a freak (like me).
Or, you go the other route, and see how the game impresses someone who’s never played it before. It’s a valid concern, as there will always be people who are only just catching up with whatever bandwagon has just had a new coat of paint and some new wheels slapped on before being put out to market.
Both are perfectly valid. And, sometimes, you have little choice. In this instance, we’ve gone (or, at least, thought we’d go...) with someone that’s never played any of the games before; which is where I also have a possibly embarrassing admission to make.
That person is me. Why are you looking at me like that?!
By way of some backstory, I can safely say that despite being a gamer since, well, a WHILE (it’s a count in the multiple decades), HOMM (has anyone ever thought to licence an aftershave for gamers – HOMM por Homme? No?) has simply never appealed to me.
To be perfectly honest, here, it still doesn’t, so I’m left with bit of a quandary.
The embargo for review drops today, and while I’ve been scratching away at the keyboard coming up with aftershave jokes, it’s also occurred to me that maybe I should think of shifting this review to someone else; after all, the forum’s own TinBane is a huge fan, and I know he is literally counting the hours to when the game unlocks on Steam. It’s just... I really think that’s doing my own opinion a dis-service.
Game reviewing, as I often argue, is not objective. It’s impossible – and, I think, wrong – to try and pretend that your emotional response to a game is invalid just because it does not match up with other responses. So, what the hey – let’s damn the flames and forge ahead with a total HOMM noob’s views on Might and Magic VI: Heroes.
And our verdict?
Oh my God, how can you fans play this?!
Wait: surely there’s more?
Okay, yes, there’s more. Remember that bit a few paragraphs above about emotional responses to games? They’re very important. Fear, excitement, hope, anger, happiness, all these things should flow from a good game experience.
What’s flowed from our HOMMVI experience has been mostly boredom, with a touch of frustration. It’s not been a recipe for success at all.
Part of it’s expectation management. The game’s CGI intro, of a heavily armoured swordsman kicking all kinds of undead and demon butt, is fantastic, but it really tells the player a big fat porky. There is approximately zero of that kind of action in the game, and the titular heroes get even less to do. Sure, their fancy battlefield tricks can make or break a battle, but these heroes don’t actually do anything. The real grunt work is done by, well, grunts, and even they’re limited to basically being fancy chess-pieces, which is the other part of the game that literally leaves me cold...