New World Computing, 2002
New World Computing, 2002
一款游戏的好坏取决于你拿什么和它比较，这句话尤其适合《魔法门 9（Might and Magic IX）》。我差点因为压倒性的负面评论而错过这款游戏，但我很庆幸我没有！
有句话要说清楚，《魔法门 9》绝不是这个系列中最好的一部。在濒临破产的情况下，3DO 匆忙交出的游戏在首席设计师 Timothy Lang 自己看来“最多就是个初期测试版（pre-alpha）”。因为程序崩溃和 bug 实在太过频繁了，导致最初发行的版本几乎没法玩。这代转向了全 3D 图形，但欠缺打磨和细节，而且模型重复利用，还有着古怪的镜像贴图。但无论如何，这款游戏还是做对了很多事情。
首先你会注意到的是全新的职业系统。在创建角色时你只能选择战士（Fighter）或法师（Adept），但在完成特定任务之后可以通过专精转职成其他职业，总共有 12 种职业可以选择。技能和能力仍然是通过遍布在世界中的训练师来获取，但现在一些咒语在释放时要求两种（有时甚至三种！）不同技能的支持。等级系统被人为地限制在了 140 级左右（因为训练费用变得太昂贵了），不过还是成功地让我有动力去刷怪，最终升到一个丧心病狂的能力等级——典型的《魔法门》风格。
战斗也同样经过了彻底改造。地精（goblin）大军或者别的什么生物排着队冲过来杀你的场面已经见不到了，《魔法门 9》中的重点是敌人较少的小规模遭遇战。正因如此，怪物的 AI 有了长足的进步：飞行敌人会呈环形包围你，咕噜兵（Grunt）会投掷匕首，而更强的敌人会复活倒下的战友。这些策略很多其实很简单，但还是展示出了敌人的特点。
A game is only as good as the ones you compare it to. Nothing could be truer for Might and Magic IX, a game I nearly overlooked due to overwhelmingly negative reviews. I'm glad I didn't!
To be clear: M&M9 is by no means the best game in the series. Nearing bankruptcy, 3DO rushed out of the door what lead designer Timothy Lang himself described as “pre-alpha at best”. Bugs and crashes were so frequent that it was almost unplayable, while the game's shift to fully 3D graphics lacked polish and detail, with repetitive models and weird mirrored textures. Nevertheless, it did many things right.
First thing you'll notice is the new class system. At character creation you can only choose between Fighter or Adept, but 12 specialised classes are later available by completing special quests. Skills and abilities are still acquired via trainers scattered around the world, but now some spells require two (or even three!) different skills to be cast. Although the levelling system is artificially capped at around Level 140 (as training becomes too expensive), it worked well enough to keep me motivated to grind on and reach insane levels of power, Might and Magic-style.
Combat was likewise overhauled. Gone are the legions of goblins and other critters forming lines to kill you. M&M9 focuses on smaller encounters, with fewer enemies. As such, the AI is vastly improved: flying enemies will circle around you, Grunts will throw daggers, while stronger enemies revive their fallen comrades. Most are simple, but still distinctive.
While the initial dungeons are forgettable, later ones range from good to borderline great. One late-game dungeon is especially memorable, with armies of liches giving you a run for your money. Also, the game features a huge array of new weapons, with all kinds of status effects to equip and use.
所以，《魔法门 9》值得一玩吗？这不好说。如果你只玩精心打磨过的 RPG 的话，那不要玩，比它好的游戏到处都是。不过，如果你想看看《魔法门》系列本有可能成为什么样子，那务必试一试。
There are also some funny side-quests, and the non-existing story is almost Monty Python-esque in its randomness, with an old hag casually giving you a world-saving quest without any further explanation.
So, is Might and Magic IX worth a shot? That depends. If you only play polished RPGs then no, there are much better games out there. If, however, you want to experience what the M&M series could have become, then by all means give it a try.