Might and Magic VI: The Mandate of Heaven is sixth game of the Might and Magic saga, developed by New World Computing and released 1998. Surprisingly the game runs without any problems on latest computers, even under Windows 7. This is not usual in case of old games like it, which usually requires at least a bit of work to get working. Graphics Considering the age of the game, the graphics are actually well done. The game introduces 3D world to explore, and uses sprites when representing NPCs wandering around. There are some oddities in graphics, like section of objects disappearing or clipping with other objects, but again this is expected when regarding the age of the game. The only gripe I have with graphics is that at times the color of ground prevents noticing some small creatures, especially spiders, before it's too late. This is due the fact that some creatures are using the same color palette as the ground, and only way of noticing them are when the creatures move around. On the other hand, this could be considered as feature as well, as it's makes the exploring of dungeons a bit more interesting, as there are things to you may not notice until it's too late. On the other hand, if this only applied to creatures I would be happy, but at times it's also difficult to notice items lying on the ground, especially money. Sound If the game was released now, the sounds would be considered bad at best, but again we must consider the age of the game. When the game was released the sound system was not as advanced, and the game represents the top end of the quality of that time. Story Might and Magic VI is definitely non-linear game. Most of the quest can be done at the order the player want, though this result one problem: It's hard to tell which quests relates to the main story and which do not. The main story of the game takes place in the time around the game Heroes of Might and Magic III. King Roland has gathered forces to battle against Devils in the north, but the battle fails and the King has disappeared. At the same time new cult is formed, called as Cult of Baa. It's clear that the cult has something to do with the king's disappearance, and the party the player controls has given a task to discover the truth as well as battle against the new cult. Now, I have to admit, I have not yet completed the game, so I don't know how everything turns out. The story itself is actually quite hard to follow, as the advance of it is only done when you complete certain quests. Between the main quests the player takes other side quests, mostly to gain experience, gold and equipment. Some of these quests reveals a bit of the history of the cult and the world around, though not greatly. The quests are mostly rescuing people from dungeons, which is done by reaching certain location inside the corresponding dungeon, then bringing them back to certain NPC. Other types of quests requires the player to kill certain creature and brining the proof of it, or bringing certain items to specific characters. The quests player does do not affect the world much, only by rising or lowering the reputation of the party. The reputation on the other hand does not affect many things, mostly which NPCs player can recruit to the group. The side quests can be done in any order, though few quests results another quest. Most of those quests are related to the main story though, so there is hardly no continuum in side quests. Party At the beginning of the game the player creates a party of four character. There are several classes available, and the class on the other hand affects what skills the character can learn during the game as well as the initial stats the character has and the health and mana progression while leveling. When creating the characters player can pick four skills, two of which are chosen by the class and two which player can choose from the small list available for that specific class. While travelling the characters can learn more skills, some of which were not available at the party creation. The biggest gripe with the skill system I have is that if the class can learn the skill, the class itself doesn't affect how useful the skill actually is. So, archer and sorcerer is equal in using bows, the class doesn't affect to it. The only thing the class affect is that certain skills are not available to the certain classes, like Sorcerer can not learn to use plate armor. The skill system itself has it's pros and cons. Skills are raised by using skill points, which are given to characters when leveling. Each level nets certain amount of skill points to character, not depending on the stats of the character nor the class. Rising the skill requires the amount of skill points equaling to the level of the skill will be. For example, rising skill from 4 to 5 requires 5 skill points, while rising the skill from 9 to 10 requires 10 skill points. This makes higher skills more difficult to raise, as it may require more than one level to get enough skill points. There are other ways to gain skill points, like certain items, but those situation are rare, and most of the skill points come leveling. Another feature in skill system is the rank of the skill: normal, expert or master. The skill begins at the normal level, and after reaching certain level in skill the character can train to next rank, which requires gold. Rising the rank makes the skill more efficient, like doubling the skill level when the skill is used or giving additional effects to spells. This is actually good system, and it forces the player to consider which skills to raise and which not, as the training to next rank is usually very costy. The player also has to find specific trainer for that skill, which usually requires a lot of searching in towns. One important note on skills is that certain skills required the correct character to be selected. For example, when opening a chest the player must make sure that the character with disarm skill is selected, otherwise the possible trap will be triggered. The balance between the classes is something the has big flaws. Melee skills are nearly useless as it's almost necessary to keep distance between the party and the enemies. Due this ranged weapons are best in the early games, when spells are still too ineffective and can not be cast often enough, and at the middle game to the ending only spells are viable option. This is because bows do too little damage related to spells and are too inaccurate to use effectly. Why is it required to keep the distance then? Well, melee opponents can not hit you if they can not reach you, and you can still hit them. Melee especially when dealing group of monsters, which the player is doing the most of the time, it's just too dangerous to let the enemies too close. Also, as the enemies choose randomly which party member is hit, the weaker character die too soon in melee combat. So, better keep the distance. While the player creates four character, it's also possible to recruit two NPCs to the group. These characters do no take part in combat, but aid the party in other ways: they may improve certain skills, identify or repair items, helps you to keep your reputation, allows you to find more cold while looting and even grants you some extra experience every time experience is granted. The later two are especially valuable. The system of recruiting the NPC is that the player must first find NPC with suitable skills, then if the reputation is high enough recruit or bribe it to join, then pay the initial fee ranging from few gold to even thousand gold pieces. After the initial gold has been payed the NPC joins the party, and after that takes certain percent of the gold looted. The percentage is not big enough to make a difference, especially if player recruits NPC who increase the amount of looted gold. There is one flaw in the system: the NPCs appear randomly, and if player wants certain type of NPC, then it's most often requires travelling between towns and hoping that the random number generator likes the player. At times this is tedious work, as certain type of NPC are rarer to appear.