What to play? – Heroes of Might and Magic II / Habr
Heroes 2 still has a huge army of fans who sincerely believe that this part is the best in the series. I can honestly admit that I do not belong to their number, because at one time, after starting it after the third part and being frightened by the bad graphics, I deleted it almost immediately. An absolutely identical story was waiting for me with Sword and Magic 6, which I was able to return to and go through only two dozen years later. It will be years before the appearance of the project becomes less important to me, and I will be able to touch the second game, which has already become a classic, of such a famous franchise.
But what if I told you about the existence of a modern fan reprint, which can be a great opportunity to get to know this part of the great series better, or to return to it years later? Today we’re going to discuss why you should be playing Heroes of Might and Magic 2 in late 2023!
This part, released in 1996, will open a new world for the series called Enroth, which will become familiar to millions of gamers thanks to the next project – Heroes of Might and Magic III, as well as three role-playing games Might and Magic VI, VII and VIII. . The reason for such a strong love for the second Heroes is what its loyal fans consider its main merit – a magical, fairy-tale atmosphere, created thanks to the combination of wonderful music and outstanding drawing, unlike any other strategy (even when considering modern ones). A funny situation happened with the visual in general: 15 years ago, such graphics seemed “scary” and few people liked them, but these days, on the wave of fashion for pixel art, it looked fresh and pleasant!
Being a big fan of the universe of Heroes and Sword and Magic, I do not stop declaring my love for its composer – Paul Romero. The music from this part is almost the basis of that fabulous mood, which subtly and neatly immerses the player in the game’s environment. I can admit that I get bored of the soundtrack very quickly in most projects, so I usually turn it off. But in this case, I didn’t do it, on the contrary, I stopped at certain moments and, stopping playing, just enjoyed the melody that I liked. I highly recommend listening to the entire playlist, even if you are completely indifferent to the series! My favorite is “Grass Theme” which you can listen to here!
By the way, Sword and Sorcery and Heroes 2 fans, don’t you think there’s a little bit in the Desert Theme that was clearly reused in Sword and Sorcery 6, 7, and 8?
The basis of the “Heroic series” (namely, the role system, strategic and tactical parts) is the development of the ideas of the first Heroes of Might and Magic 1, but with refinements and improvements to the gameplay mechanics of the predecessor. Actually, I can say about the same about the third part, which took all the best from the two, only multiplying, expanding and refining. In fact, this is how almost all games developed by New World Computing (creators of this series) until the release of Heroes 4, the development of which ceased to be consistent. Instead, it was decided to change the foundation and make, in fact, a product that was radically different from its predecessors. But was he as bad as it is commonly believed? In one of my articles, I tried to understand this issue. Read it interestingly.
What Heroes 2 does well is peace exploration and adventuring on a global map. Now a fairly spacious map is available for exploration (compared to the miniature ones from the first part). Also added a large number of accessible places that will become familiar to the series, as they will appear in the next parts (for example, a mill or a stable), and two new castles. Now the project has as many as six pieces: the knight’s castle (Paladinov); barbarian (Tsiklopov); sorceresses (Phoenix); sorcerer (dragons); wizard (Titans); necromancer (bone dragons). And in general, the game balance strongly inclines you to an active style of play, otherwise you simply won’t have enough money to buy an army: none of the cities produces enough gold to hire all types of troops. The main disadvantage of having a variety of factions is the lack of balance among hired units. One of the keys to success in your adventures is to buy creatures of the highest level, but the problem is that some castles have them significantly weaker. I think any fan of Heroes 2 understands that Cyclops will always lose to the black dragon, and so will the crusaders who faced off against the titans.
What I love about this universe, especially in the latter parts of the series, is the overarching plot that permeates not only Heroes, but Sword and Sorcery as well. The plot of Heroes 2 tells about the confrontation between two brothers who are fighting for the throne left after the death of their father. And these events will find their response in the 6th and 7th parts of Might And Magic. I will not say that the plot is very interesting and unusual, but the non-linearity may surprise (especially fans of the third part)! During the story, you influence the development of further events, you can even betray your prince by siding with his brother! I really regret that this was not the case in the sequel, because, let’s face it, it’s very cool when your opinion about what to do next is significant and leads to a completely different reward and bonuses!
So what is the point of this game? As in the following installments, the satisfaction comes when your tactical genius has won a very difficult battle. The development of the character, who, compared to the first part, found skills (they were not there before), and the atmosphere, visual series and wonderful music I described above only reinforce the feeling of satisfaction.
After reading this article, many may ask themselves: “Why should I play this game at all, if there is already a third of Heroes, which, as you yourself said, developed all the ideas of the predecessor, thereby making the project only better and deeper?”. To this question, I would answer that Heroes II is perceived in a completely different way. I’m sure many of you will experience this feeling of “gaming coziness” when you boot up the mid-90s game and almost instantly become enchanted by its fairytale charms. Despite the fact that these are parts of the same series with similar gameplay and mechanics, I am sure that on the level of sensations they will be perceived completely differently.
If you have not yet closed the tab with the article and decided to stop at this game, then the most interesting thing awaits you next, because I will tell you about a modification that strongly begs to be introduced / returned to Heroes of Might and Magic II. It is called Fheroes2. To be more precise, this is not even a mod, but an independent project created on the improved engine of the original open source game. Due to the fact that the development is carried out according to modern standards, it is easily adapted to any platform, PC, Android, Linux, MAC and others.
The first thing that fans of the original project will notice is the ability to play in high quality without any compatibility problems on modern systems. In addition, color rendering and rendering have been improved. Even this would be enough to advise Fheroes2 as the best entry point to the game, but the creators did not stop there and fixed a huge number of bugs made by the developers of the original project. Improvements have been made to both the artificial intelligence of opponents and the game interface, many convenient hot keys have been added, as well as really cool features (for example, you can conduct a quick battle, but after seeing an unsatisfactory result in the battle results window, replay the battle, already leading the army into battle on your own ?
Of the minuses, I can name only the incomplete Russian localization and the fact that the main game map is available in high quality, but the battles and the reconstruction of the castle are in a small window. True, both of these shortcomings play almost no role and do not spoil the impression of the project at all. You can view the full list of changes at the link.
In conclusion, I will say that now, thanks to the actions of fans, it has become easier than ever to touch the classics. You can play such an exciting strategy game on modern systems with absolutely no problems or tambourine dancing. And to make your life even easier, in the Telegram channel “Old-fashioned gamer”, I have posted a collection with already fully installed Heroes of Might and Magic II together with the modification, as well as installers for self-installation! Mod installers for Android, Linux, MAC, PSV and Switch added as a bonus. Enjoy the game!
And in February, we will host a winter tournament with third heroes. Details (as well as the entry) are here