Ask any fan of Mac strategy games what the best titles are, and chances are that Bungie Software’s Myth games will be on the list. The series has approached legendary status for its deep storylines; focus on squad-based strategy; and terrific multiplayer capabilities. It has also spawned a subculture of custom-map and game-modification makers who have added new content to the game. For these reasons and more, it made sense for Take Two Interactive to continue the product when it acquired the rights to the Myth line.
The first thing to understand about Myth III: The Wolf Age is that it plays like the original. The next thing to understand is that it utilizes different technology, so throw away any preconceived notions based on how the first two Myth games and their myriad modifications looked and felt.
This game is a prequel, set 1,000 years before the events recounted in Myth: The Fallen Lords and Myth II: Soulblighter. The game’s creators took into account the existing mythology of the Myth universe and built a story that fleshes-out details that Myth fans have pondered for years.
In this instalment, you assume the role of Connacht the Wolf. This wild barbarian is mankind’s greatest hero, a charismatic leader who takes legions into battle against the vile Myrkridia and the oppressive Trow, two races of beings that seek to destroy humanity.
Like the preceding games, Myth III unfolds in a series of chapters or vignettes similar to those of an epic fantasy novel. Whether the story works for you will depend on how much you’ve invested in the first two games – for neophytes, taking it all in can be a bit daunting. Cut scenes of unexceptional quality flesh out the story a bit. The two previous versions of the game used excellent cel-animated sequences to explain the story. I miss these.
For people unfamiliar with the first two installments, Myth III includes tutorials that help players understand the sometimes-complicated moves required for play. The tutorials also cover the basics of what the units do, and how they interact with their environment and one another.
As in the first two Myth games, you initially find yourself in a 3D environment rendered from a bird’s-eye view. Camera control in Myth has always been superlative, and this game is no exception: You can zoom, scroll, and pan, getting a clear understanding of your surroundings before moving troops into battle.
Myth III’s graphics are definitely several notches better than those of the first two games. Wholly dependent on 3D graphics-card acceleration, this game has gone completely polygonal. The environment, all the creatures you’ll encounter, and your troops sport excellent levels of detail. Even the gore is marvellously realistic, if that’s your thing.
You’ll find a lot more creatures to kill in Myth III, thanks to the addition of dozens of new unit types. Many of them are just sub-categories of the same monsters, each with distinct capabilities. For the most part, friendly units haven’t changed a bit – but there are a few additions.
Multiplayer gaming in Myth has always been a cornerstone of game-play longevity, and you’ll find that it’s no different in Myth III. However, there is one important change – instead of using the Bungie.net gaming service, you play through GameSpy.com. Despite the lack of a GameSpy Arcade client for the Mac, the service supports Mac players using connectivity built into the game itself. And Mac gamers are perfectly able to play against their Windows-based counterparts. If you don’t want to use a service, you have the options of LAN (Local Area Network) play and TCP/IP (Internet)-based hosting.
One important aspect of Myth multiplayer gaming is the variety of game types you can play. Myth III serves up a healthy portion: there are more than a dozen options, including old favorites such as Steal the Bacon, as well as Scavenger Hunt, Flag Rally, and Assassin.
On its own merits, Myth III: The Wolf Age is a solid real-time strategy game. It isn’t all it could have been, however. Alas, the team that made this game won’t get another crack at a sequel – the group disbanded shortly after completing Myth III for Windows. One can only hope that Take Two Interactive and Myth’s publisher, MacSoft, won’t let the franchise die here; Myth means too much to too many players to let it drift away.