Dark Messiah Might and Magic: Elements Review
Dark Messiah Might and Magic: Elements box art
System: X360 Review Rating Legend
Dev: Ubisoft Annecy 1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid 4.0 - 4.4 = Great
Pub: Ubisoft 2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
Release: Feb. 12, 2008 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 5.0 = The Best
Players: 1-10 (Online) 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
ESRB Rating: Mature 3.5 - 3.9 = Good

To make matters worse, the controls are terrible! They've tried to implement a system similar to that employed in Elder Scrolls: Oblivion, but it is decidedly less precise. Nowhere is this more apparent than the dreadful rooftop platforming segment in chapter three. In this mercifully short stage, you'll constantly fall to your death and run into obstacles that a four year-old could easily negotiate. The frustration is compounded by the fact that you will be chasing a ghoul. As such, you will be timed, and every time you fall or take a bit too long you will have to wait for a loading screen. Other than the cruel jumping phases, the weak combat system gets dull by the end of the opening tutorial chapter. You will have to constantly pull on the RT button to perform attacks ameliorated only by held power strikes, simple kicks, tiny bursts of adrenaline, and ridiculous sneak attacks.

Dark Messiah Might and Magic: Elements screenshot

The graphics are tolerable but dated. The constant frame rate issues and animation glitches are unacceptable, however. One glitch-filled moment in particular was very funny. After killing one of the first mini-bosses with a ballista, a guard could be seen jumping up and down like a little school girl under the massive arm of the dead Cyclops. It had me rolling with delight as I covered my eyes in embarrassment. This was the first major glitch, but certainly not the last I experienced. Outside of the stilted and stuttering visuals, the first person perspective is interesting though imperfect. It is very similar to Oblivion expect for the fact that your weaponry inevitably blocks your field of vision. This doesn't really affect combat as you're just going to button mash anyway, but it does become quite disconcerting while navigating through the multitude of halls and corridors.

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The voiceover work is very amateurish. It's not so bad that you can't get into the story, but it is bad enough that you can't help but giggle every now and then. The voice that most clearly stands out is that of your buxom spirit guide Xana. She's constantly making comments in a tone of voice most readily associated with 1-900 numbers. Moreover, the delivery of the dialogue by all characters is reminiscent of that of a Lorenzo Lamas film.

Surprisingly, there is a decent multiplayer offering. There are a number of kids playing and having a good time, but it is safe to say that the first person run-around is not even remotely as engaging as other online multiplayer games out there. In the multiplayer modes you will also be able to choose from the same four characters as in the campaign with the exception of the assassin which is replaced by the priestess. I guess the developers realized that human players just simply wouldn't hold still in an arena with their backs to the deadly shadows. The priestess is akin to a cleric. She has a retinue of healing and life-sapping abilities that makes her a decent support character in team battles.

Dark Messiah Might and Magic: Elements screenshot

The various classes have their own multiplayer skill chain. Before entering a battle, you will allocate skill points in order to have access to them. This allows you to poison arrows, go berserk, cast fireballs or even smite your foes depending on which class you select. There are five different modes to choose from, but one of them is a training mode so it doesn't really count. Blitz is a team game that has you try to control the enemies' base. There is no respawn feature, so eliminating all of your foes is equally as effective. Crusade is a unique mode that pits two teams against each other in order to capture the enemies' stronghold. Going after various control points on the map will reduce the amount the enemy can respawn until victory is achieved. After winning one map, you will be transported to a new map with very different characteristics. Finally, the last two modes of play are the requisite Deathmatch and Team Deathmatch. Running around in these multiplayer maps is entertaining mostly because of the childish chatter that goes on over the headsets.

When it's all said and done, this not a good game. It's not an outright right failure either, but with limited gaming funds and time I suggest giving this title a wide berth. It feels as if the game is caught between two genres, and neither has been executed very well. It's not straight action/adventure like God of War, as the combat is so pedestrian and repetitive, and there aren't even any puzzles to break up the monotony. It also isn't an RPG because there is no character customization or expansive world. Unfortunately, this game suffers from a major identity crisis that has it wallowing in the doldrums of mediocrity.

By Jonathan Marx
CCC Lead Contributor / News Director

RATING OUT OF 5
RATING DESCRIPTION
3.0
Graphics
It may look like Oblivion on the surface, but the buggy frame rate won't fool you for long.
1.7
Control
Yuck! Melee combat has never been more boring and imprecise.
2.7
Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
The voiceover work is amateurish, but also funny in a B-movie kind of way.
3.6
Play Value
The story is decent and the game is fun enough that you will most likely beat it. Don't expect any lasting value though.
2.8
Overall Rating - Average
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.

Game Features:

  • More action, new challenges. Experience Might and Magic like never before, with refined game mechanics carefully crafted for pad-controlled carnage, including a brand new lock-on feature and tweaked level design and game statistics. Explore three previously unreleased secret levels with new objectives, gameplay, and rewards.
  • Multiplayer remixed. New multiplayer maps have been created exclusively for Xbox 360, while all other features have been completely remastered for an optimal Xbox LIVE experience, allowing you to play with up to 10 players. Enlist with the Humans or the Undead and choose to play as an archer, priestess, mage or knight. Make use of powerful and unique skills and spells on the battlefield, including powers such as meteor shower, berserk charge and rain of arrows.
  • Cutting-edge technology. Discover the power of the Source engine on Xbox 360, featuring jaw-dropping environments, incredible graphics, and top-notch physics. Immerse yourself in a gritty first-person experience with complete body awareness, realistic movements, and physics rendering, making Dark Messiah Might and Magic: Elements the first action game to feature a complete first-person combat system.
  • Environmental mischief. Use your environment as a weapon to outsmart the most fiendish monsters. From bottomless pits to diabolical traps, players will find that that their spells and weapons are not always the most effective solution to dispatching their foes.
  • Never-ending action. Challenge the forces of evil across 12 chapters and master over 30 weapons and 12 devastating spells. Engage the enemy in intense melee combat with swords, bows, staffs, and daggers; summon magic powers or sneak in the shadows to stalk depraved creatures. Show no mercy as you carve deep into the enemy's flesh and use the environment as a weapon to outsmart the most fiendish monsters.
  • The Might and Magic universe's darkest side. From bottomless pits to abandoned temples, dark catacombs and swelled cities, explore the remotest recesses of Ashan, populated with fearless Orcs, dreadful Undead, elusive Cyclops, and many other creatures that defy nature's creation. This is the darkest side of the legendary Might and Magic universe, where the forces of evil are stronger and more cunning than ever.


  • Screenshots / Images
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