Critics' early comments about the PlayStation 2 included assumptions that most developers wouldn't have the know-how or the budget required to create the kind of games that would truly tap into the system's power and that the differences between development powerhouses like Namco and Square and smaller outfits like Jaleco and Takara would quickly become even more apparent. As if to prove these comments right, along comes Warriors of Might and Magic for the PlayStation 2, probably the least impressive game to arrive for the system to date.
Warriors of Might and Magic plays similar to last year's Crusaders of Might and Magic. You're a warrior who travels through a series of large, three-dimensional environments, fighting monsters, casting spells, solving puzzles, and completing quests. You can find or buy new weapons, armor, potions, spells, and special items for your character to help him in his goals. As he gains more experience, his skills improve, too. It's a basic premise that has worked well in the past with games like Crave's Draconus: Cult of the Wyrm and poorly in titles such as Sirtech's Excalibur 2555 A.D. Warriors of Might and Magic falls into the latter category.
At first glance, many of you will assume Warriors of Might and Magic is a game for the original PlayStation--with good reason. Except for the lack of pop-up and the improved textures, there's little to differentiate it from a game running on the PSOne. The environments are sparsely populated with objects that appear incomplete. Levels are either so wide open that they're reminiscent of a Nintendo 64 game or so claustrophobic that you--and your foes--get stuck on objects while simply moving about the room. Spells produce effects similar to those in PlayStation games like Deathtrap Dungeon and Ninja: Shadow of Darkness, which are low targets to shoot for as far as eye candy goes. Characters such as the orcs, ghouls, and gnolls are well designed, while the others look awful. The worst offender is the main character, a mulleted adventurer who wears a mask similar to the old Malibu Comics character Night Man and who couldn't match his clothes to save his life. Good and bad models alike are undercut by the game's low-grade animations. After roughly 15 seconds, you'll have seen all the animations that a character is capable of. With the visual advances in other PlayStation 2 games, expectations are that PS2 products will look significantly better than PlayStation products--and there are many PlayStation games that look better than this.
The controls are ridiculously complex, enabling not only all the buttons on the PlayStation 2 controller but both analog sticks as well. The D-pad manages item, weapon, and spell selection, as well as item use. The left analog stick controls movement, while the right swings the camera around. X and O attack, square casts spells, and triangle jumps. R1 initiates actions such as talking to merchants and picking up items, R2 locks a target, L1 blocks, and L2 crouches. And the select pad calls up your armor and weapon inventory screen. This control setup is less complex than Crusaders of Might and Magic's, a game that spent considerable time walking you through all the different actions available. Based on the introduction in Warriors of Might and Magic, it seems as if the creators planned to teach you all the game controls, then quickly gave up, hoping that you would eventually figure them out on your own.