The list of games that have caused me sleepless nights (because I didn’t go to bed) or hindered my ability to get anything done (because I was playing them) is not a short list, but somewhere near the top is New World Computing’s indisputable classic* Heroes of Might & Magic III.
News of an official HD re-release was therefore exciting, though my family, friends and colleagues may have felt otherwise. The original HOMM3 (because really, who types the whole thing out every time) still has buckets of charm and is perfectly playable today, but the idea of re-drawn and re-animated creature sprites plus support for higher resolutions and widescreen appealed. The addition of Steamworks multiplayer sounded like another plus since it can be tricky to get a multiplayer game of HOMM3 going.
Sadly it is already sounding as if Ubisoft have dropped the ball on this one. Not only does the HD version of the game lack the Armageddon’s Blade and Shadow of Death expansion packs (as the source code has been lost), players are reporting that it also does not feature the random map generator. The latter is a big part of the game’s enduring popularity, so its exclusion seems like a bizarre oversight.
Steam’s user reviews are also already full of players complaining about numerous bugs and problems. To be fair, re-releases of cult classics are always going to attract a bit of unfair criticism, but recurrent reports of technical issues like having to issue every step of a move command separately, or basic stuff like mouse lag and end of turn hangs, don’t fall into that category.
Frankly I’d never forgive myself if I suggested that, right now, Heroes of Might & Magic 3 HD was something you should consider buying. Here’s hoping that Ubisoft decide to patch the game, and promptly. Perhaps if the base game at least works as expected, this won’t look so much like an inferior product when compared with itself.
I do love a silver lining, though, so I was able to derive amusement from the unhappy Steam user who complained that the game was locked at 30fps. It was? Really? And that mattered? For Heroes of Might & Magic III? From 1999?
Well, to each their own.
* Okay, you could theoretically dispute it, but now I’ve made you look all the way down here instead. I think this means I win, friend.