Myth III: The Wolf Age
Thursday 28th February, 2002
Dyce’s third law of New Toys: disappointment is proportional to the anticipation. As such, anyone familiar with Bungie’s excellent Myth games will surely be disappointed with Myth III.
For those unfamiliar with the series, Myth is two games in one. As a single player, it’s your job to lead your troops through a series of 25 or so levels, defeating the usual cast of Orc and Goblin-type foes along the way and making sure good triumphs over evil.
The interface is entirely 3D with user controllable camera angles, so you can pan across, orbit around and zoom in on the fight, choosing the best perspective from which to direct your troops.
The single-player versions of Myth I and Myth II had strong plot lines and well-designed levels, and you wanted to finish each level to find out what happened next. Bungie also pioneered the use of remote servers allowing single-players to play against other Myth gamers over the Internet in multiplayer games. The ability to play against a human opponent adds real depth to the game.
After Microsoft bought up Bungie to write games for the Xbox, the rights to Myth were transferred to Take 2 Interactive, and therein lies the rub. Take 2 rewrote most of the rendering engine for Myth II, added some new characters and put it out as a PC title late last year. So Myth III is a port of a PC title based on a Mac original - think spaghetti western dubbed with a cockney accent.
The graphics have received the most attention. Gone are the cutsie handcrafted pixellated characters and objects, and in their place we have facetted, 3D-modelled versions. This means that when you walk around trees and bushes, for example, they look different from each perspective.
Characters walk more realistically and can now have physical ‘ticks’: they move their arms and shuffle about when they’re standing still. They also benefit from surface textures, so you can zoom in really close to the action and see much greater detail. Rivers flow, spilt blood runs, trees bend in the breeze and even the grass is animated. A pity, then, that all this graphical oomph takes so much processing power.
Ugly bug ball
To play Myth III with all the graphics bells and whistles, you need a top-of-the-range G4 with serious amounts of memory. Yes, you can play it on, say, a 400MHz G3 iBook, but you’ll miss the main point of the new version and, interestingly, you’ll also discover one of the many bugs.
For example, some levels won’t load unless you have certain features turned on, yet if they’re turned on play is so jerky that selecting and moving your troops becomes almost impossible.
Even if you can load the levels, the cut-scenes between levels (which are what keep the player involved in the story line) often fail to display properly (white out on black or random noise). One consolation here is that at least you don’t get to see what an awful job they’ve done with the artwork.
So the single player game is flawed, but how about the previously excellent multiplayer mode? Sadly, they’ve screwed this up as well. With Bungie out of the picture, handling of the server side of things has passed to GameSpy, which isn’t doing as good a job. There appears to be a 60-player limit at any one time, the killer features that addicted players to Myth (Clanning and Player Ranking) aren’t supported, and some of the chat interface elements now interfere with the view of play.
It was always going to be difficult for Myth III to live up to the anticipation. But the change in development team halfway through the project sealed its fate. The result is a mess that is neither fun to play nor for all its bells and whistles, particularly attractive to look at. We got the impression this product was shipped out the door without a thought for quality control. I guess lunchtimes at MacUser will remain a Myth II experience.
Myth III is a mess that is neither fun to play nor for all its bells and whistles, particularly attractive to look at
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|Pros||Mac OS X supported + New units/foes + New rendering model|
|Cons||Poorly implemented + Buggy + Internet play limited by 60-user server limit|
|Originally Published||MacUser, Volume: 18, Issue: 04, p30|