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While the game moves into 3D and a new battle system has been adopted, much of what made the series popular remains the same. Its unique art style hasn't been damaged by the transition into the third dimension. In fact, hero characters have been helped as they now will change with every piece of new armor they wear and weapon they wield. The look of the game is still decidedly dark in presentation in a world that hasn't seen happiness in a long, long time.
The Empire, Legion, and Alliance are all back in their starring roles and the game's turn-based overland map mechanics remain pretty much unchanged. Each side still has a main city defended by a permanent guardian. The city can turn out new units to defend or be added into a hero group. Players still have the choice of which buildings to construct , the choice of which will affect what lower level units can eventually be upgraded into. It's an especially important concept since constructing a building down one branch of the structure tree locks any other paths on that branch. A hero and any units in its group ca be taken out into the overland map in order to move around, gather resources, plant rods to gain territory (that can be moved slowly and upgraded), and do battle with the enemy.
Followed by an excerpt from GameSpy's article:
Disciples III: Renaissance brings new graphics and some significant gameplay changes to the table while still keeping many of the core game mechanics in place. The most obvious change is the new 3D game engine. The old games were known for their brilliantly dark art direction and the third installment stays true to form. This isn't a land of bright colors and dancing elves. The land is dark, almost twisted-looking and the 3D graphics drive this home like never before. In fact, the game looks better than the latest Heroes of Might and Magic release, and while visuals and art direction are a matter of taste the atmosphere is sure to please longtime fans.
The original Disciples games used a unique combat system wherein the units never moved. This latest version allows your army to maneuver during combat but it's still abstracted. For example, all hand-to-hand units may attack each other regardless of how far apart they are. Ranged units cannot be attacked until there is an opening in the army's line. Protecting ranged units such as bowmen, healers, and mages remains a critical strategy. The battlefields are fairly good-sized. They need to be as each "leader" can recruit up to 11 different units for his or her army, which is another major change from the original.
And, finally, an excerpt from GameShark's article:
The three campaigns, each six to nine missions long, center on a quest to recover a falling star. It lands in goblin territory, so the goblins make up a partial fourth faction (the others are human, elven and evil.) The life of the game will be extended not just through multiplayer, but through making modding and map editing available from day one, opening the game up to the legions of fans who have been, Akella says, instrumental in the development of the new version.
And, since so many of these fans are in Eastern Europe and Russia, Disciples III is using those fans as the baseline in determining the final system requirements. Disciples wouldn't need a high powered engine in any case. You still move in turns with minimal animation. But the artwork is very polished and the heroes look appropriately heroic.