HD remakes can be a great thing. There’s nothing quite like knowing that game you’ve always loved is going to get an HD facelift and make one last effort to show you what it’s got. On the other side of this however if you don’t have those fond memories of days and weeks lost it’s going to pretty difficult to get excited about a remake, depending on how deep the remake has gone. My knowledge of Heroes of Might & Magic is far less than most would expect. It never really managed to captivate me and that is large part due to my late arrival to the series.
Fans will be glad to hear that not much has changed from the original to this HD remake apart from the obvious alterations in resolution. The menus and interfaces are all ripped from the original and although there’s lots of lovely knew pixels on screen there is a sense of age to the game that just can’t be brushed off by forcing a higher resolution. Icons and symbols have changed considerably since the original so things look very dated. It would have been nice to see an updated UI and maybe even some new interaction features. Even just changing the aesthetics of the menus and toolbars would make this feel more like a fully fledged remake and not just the same game in 1080.
Aside from the resolution the game remains the same. There’s a feeling of a simplified Civilisation at work beneath the ageing exterior. Battles are turn based and use a hex grid and everything has a very progressive feel. Managing castles is pretty basic but fun and gives you enough reason to keep playing just a little longer. Once a town is upgraded you can move on, take another and begin upgrading that one. It’s this ‘just one more turn’ style that makes Civ so addictive and HOMM has the same habit although with the added appeal of character stats and abilities to upgrade too.
Even way back when HOMM III first came out there was likely nothing to astonish in the class builds but they are varied enough to offer meaningful tactics to the turn based battles. Grinding out to get your soldiers, in whatever form they are, buffed up and ready for war is a grind, but a satisfying one. When combined with the simple city building there is an amazing sense of progression to HOMM and the feeling that there is always at least one thing you can achieve.
Another thing HOMM bring you is content. It is fully loaded with stuff to do and the exploration maps are as notoriously dense as ever. There’s always something else to fight, explore or build. Even for those who’ve played extensively before there will be something else to do. Or just starting again is always an option. In this respect at least HOMM offers great value.
Where HOMM III falls short is introducing relatively new players like myself. Your introduction will be an aged tutorial which is about as useful as you would expect. Sometimes I wonder how we ever figured games out with tutorials like this and no internet. And you may say to yourself that it’s a good thing – that modern games are too simple or pandering. Maybe so, but the giant metaphoric stone wall that HOMM puts up in front of new players is worse. To be greeted into a game and one of your first thoughts is ‘I hope this will be worth it’ is not good. I can’t deny my heart sank a little and I had to really push myself to keep playing. I’d rather be pandered just a little to make those first few hours go by smoothly.
HOMM III HD is definitely just that; HOMM III in HD. There hasn’t really been much of an attempt to alter the game or make it appeal more to a modern audience. Fair enough that may not be the aim but in a game 16 years old a few updated interfaces wouldn’t have hurt. I would also have liked a much better tutorial to ease new players in but again if you aim only at previous veterans this isn’t a problem.
For veterans this is the same game and a chance to enjoy it in 1080. But don’t expect anything new. New players will likely struggle to find much enjoyment early on although pushing through does bring out some entertainment. Honestly though, there are just better alternatives available at this price point so unless you are looking for a nostalgia fix I would give this one a miss.