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Heroes Community > Other Games Exist Too > Thread: Hammer of the Gods - HoMM predecessor
Thread: Hammer of the Gods - HoMM predecessor
Doomforge
Doomforge


Admirable
Undefeatable Hero
Retired Hero
posted March 12, 2011 07:31 PM bonus applied by MightyMage on 13 Mar 2011.

Hammer of the Gods - HoMM predecessor

This time I'm doing a game review outside my review corner to gather more feedback

Do you know this game? probably not. It's been released a year before HoMM1 and never really made much of an impact on gamers. A few screenies if the name itself doesn't ring any bells:





Yes, the game has an uncanny resemblence to HoMM series, with an adventure map screen, adventure/combat spells, battle screen, unit recruiting, artifacts... It's pretty much the same concept. HotG was first, though. (1994. HoMM1 got released a year later.)

So, how does this game fare? Well, since this is pretty much a HoMM-like game, I'm going to go in depth. First of all - what comes to mind after launching the game - the interface is ****ing crap. The text menus have to expand before you can select anything, and it's nice 1st time, but the 100th time you have to wait, it's annoying as hell. And you're going to use those a lot.

The game is simple in concept. You start as s small tribe - of four to pick from - either Humans, Elves, Dwarves or Trolls. The goal is to complete the "quest grid" by completing Odin - God of Victory's quest. To get it, you have to complete the lower tier ones first and climb upwards until you're ready to start the grand one. There's a fast mode that requires you to complete 20 quests of no particular tier to win, iirc, but let's focus on the "normal" game length first. The "bulk" of the game is attacking neutral cities of various size (Hamlet, Village, Burg, Town, City) - and raiding, razing, plundering and subjugating them.

The quest system is what I actually like, even if I don't like the fact that the quests are pretty much exactly the same for all sides (except minor differences like "amass 15 troops" for trolls instead of "attempt to make peace with all factions" for humans). The quest grid ensures each and every player gets gifts - in forms of growth bonuses, units, heroes and items - to at least some extent equally. In HoMM, an artifact guarded by tier 3 units may be ultra easy for one player (slow walker) and very hard for another (fast shooter). With the quest grid, every player is capable of performing lower tier quests and getting a solid basis for further ones because the lower tier rewards are well balanced and pretty much equal for all sides (usually hero + some units). It's not like in HoMM where not getting a crucial resource mine or artifact or spell will halt your development for a long time and put you in bad position which is hard to recover from.

This however doesn't come without flaws. First of all, the units themselves aren't equal, and so are the factions.Take heroes, for example. Humans get crappy heroes as rewards - Viking Heroes that has only 5 points in defense in comparison to other factions' heroes having 6. Elves get overpowered Archer heroes that make them go through the game with ease, Trolls get TONS of troll units along with heroes (which also happen to have regeneration powers). Dwarves at least have 6 def heroes. So, yeah. While trolls overpower enemies early on with sheer numbers and elves use their broken archers to win, humans and dwarves get pretty much snow.

That's at least the theory. In practice, the AI that controls the towns is so horrible you don't even need faction units to beat them. May as well use the 4viking archers+4 vikings swords technique to overpower most of neutral cities easily - at least up to town size, cities have duke units which are tough to kill. The AI usually blindly charges at your position, exposing archers so your archers may just pick them from afar before focusing on the front line.

Archers... that's an interesting subject. Archers may - and will - miss in this game. When trying to shoot, you're meant to aim - and since there's pretty much no info or manuals I could find on the interwebs, I'm completely oblivious whether it matters which part of the target you're aiming at. There are times where aiming below the neck of archers gave me almost 100% success rate, leading me to thinking that targeting matters, but there were also times where shooting at random spots hit the enemy and "careful" aiming didn't. Hard to tell. So, with archers that miss their shots, melee must be kings of this game, right? well... wrong. The game is much more simple than HoMM. There are no area spells, no dragon breaths, and archers - much like in HoMM4 - can't shoot something out of their line of sight. Also, not all archers have range over the whole battlefield - Elves do, but for all other factions, you're left with Viking Archers that have about 1/2 of the screen in terms of range. But, even with those limitations, the fact that the enemies can only move 1 square at a time (yup) means that you have 4 turns of shooting in every combat before their front line reaches yours.

The ranged hits always take 1 Defense point away, and melee have a chance to take 2, but can also be blocked. Which is another interesting concept. The melee units - when fighting - actually exchange a few blows instead of the boring attack-retaliation method. There's nothing more satisfying in this game to see your lower tier unit blocking two hits and scoring three hits on a stronger opponent, one of them for double damage.

Those combat mechanics however come with major flaws that should never go through beta testing (if there was any.) First of all, archers ignore defense parameter. That's right, no matter how strong the unit is, it cannot block the arrows, meaning, your hero can go down in 5-6 shots and there's nothing you can do about it other than praying NOT to get hit. Which is stupid. Second, the battle system seems too random. While most of the time you will succeed with stronger unit (with higher Melee score) attacking the weaker, situations where 2 random Viking Soldiers overpowered my more-then-twice stronger hero or giant happen WAY too often in this game.

"But you said there are artifacts, don't they help?" - you may ask. And let me say this - depends. Combat artifacts - those adding +X to melee or defense skills - are, surprisingly, completely useless. Even with +4 Rune Avenger, my hero - which now should have 10 melee points - was blocked normally by opponents, and even with +3 DEF, his "Def points" were still 6. Either defense artifacts are bugged, or it does add a minuscule chance to block enemy hit ONLY, which simply doesn't matter with archery and magic being the prime hero killing method.

Worse! I actually had a hero stacked with almost 10 artifacts for a grand total of +12 melee, +4 Defense. And guess what - in six test fights, he got arrowed down by three crappy viking archers before reaching the front line (lmfao), and in fourth, he got cut down by two dwarf units (after getting hit twice by archers) that had Melee value around 14 points lower than him and defense 4 points lower than him. LOL? Battle items seem bugged and not working at all, but if they DO work - it's barely noticeable.

Magical items, on the other hand, are completely overpowered. Wand of Healing has 20 charges which heal the target to max. So, even if enemy scored those 5 perfect arrows against your 6 def Hero and he's left with 1 miserable point, you may return his health to max with 1 hit, pretty much nullyfing all the hard work the enemy stack has done. If you happen to get two fire/ice wands/gems, you may as well instakill the enemy hero, because they do 2-4 def points per hit, meaning no matter how stacked the enemy hero is - he is going down in the first turn (unavoidable). There are also a few combat items that are actually useful (but only a few), like Rapier of Quickness, which adds double attack. Rather useful for an Elven Hero, however doesn't come without a flaw: if the first arrow misses, he doesn't shoot the second. And even if the first one hits, the second can still miss. Pity.

Leaving the crappy battle system aside, you're left with even more crappy adventure map system. The main problem of this game, imho, is the way town development is handled. You can't really build anything other than roads, ships and small outposts that a 2year old with down syndrome could overcome. Town development is automatic - they slowly grow in size and improve in defenses, which doesn't matter because you can not use your units while defending - AI does it for you, with obvious effects of getting its virtual butt handed to it every time. Hence, no matter how big town you managed to get - it's going to get razed every time the enemy attacks it with a half-decent stack. Yippe.

Which isn't really a problem for anyone instead of elves (and that also makes elves unplayable). Because the Elves' God of Victory quest is to control 3/4 of population on the map, and the quest preceeding it requires you to reach 750 Population total, meaning you're pretty much left to razing ALL of the cities of your enemies and eradicating them from the map in order to let your population grow in peace. Otherwise, even a small, cheap stack of 4 Archers/4 Swordsmen can raze 2-3 cities per turn, leaving you constantly underdeveloped. And in turn 70-80, which is an average time of reaching the "final" quests, the enemies have around 300-400 Viking Swords/Archers total to recruit, in addition to numerous units and heroes they have received per quest. Times three, for 3 factions. That makes an awful lot of stacks that can - and will - raze your small, pathetic, defenseless cities over and over preventing you any means of victory.

TLR version of the above: Elves suck. Well, you can't have the best ARcher AND A shooting hero in the game AND have a easy way to win, can you?

It's a bit easier for, say, Trolls, which have to amass a certain amount of units, or dwarves, who have to hoard a lot of money. Fortunately. Otherwise, the game would be unbeatable.

And yes, no scoreboard, no nothing, once you've beaten it, it's just game over and back to main menu. Very underwhelming for the amount of effort required.

Putting all of that together, I think it's already obvious for you why HotG never reached cult state HoMM currently has. The game is flawed and simply not polished at all, with very interesting ideas (imho being much more fun than pure-gamble HoMM rules), but really bad architecture and mechanics. The game throws tons of units at you you don't really need, meaning you have like 10-15 stacks in the game you don't even know what to do with rather than plundering the same old neutral sites over and over again (which grows old very fast), and there's no sense of development, because even powerful heroes can be cut down swiftly by two lucky grunts (or a few arrows) and even biggest cities are extremely vulnerable to raids of any kind. Fortunately, you don't lose when losing all cities, meaning you may as well complete the game with one powerful stack alone (especially if you have gotten the IMBA bonuses such as: drums of marching that double movement speed and the flying trireme that makes ALL terrian movement cost equal 1 where it normally is 4-8). This MIGHT be fun, however, the extreme fragility of your heroes, no matter how good artifacts they accumulated, is extremely disappointing. THe game is won by whomever gets 4 Elven heroes (yes you can get them via quests even when playing other factions), Drums of Marching, Wand of Healing and Ground/flying ship first, once you have that the other side can't do jack **** about you and your stack, and seeing that you can't lose any other way than resigning or losing EVERYTHING... yup, you can't lose at all if you have these! But, that might be only fun if killing the same swordsmen and archers over and over again in endless cycle of battles appeases you. Which I highly doubt.

There is diplomacy in this game, but it resembles "Diplomacy" of Civilization 5: You meet factions, they make peace, then they get increasingly annoyed at you no matter how much you try to lube their butt, and then they go to war with you. Always the same scenario, every time, unless you want to give them like half your gold each turn. Which is pointless, seeing that they can't do any harm to you (because, as I already mentioned, their stacks razing your cities means jack **** to you if you've already progressed far enough to get a few imba tools).

Eventually, the map in this game becomes in total chaos. Big cities fall every turn, new are desperately revived from ashes by the AI, only to get razed again turn later, there are millions of viking sword/archer stacks infinitely bashing each other, and among those, your uberstack of death flies around in their magical trireme killing everything on their path.

Yawn.

Seriously, this game failed, failed horribly in so many departments it's almost sad. The setting was great, the idea was awesome - but the mechanics and complete and utter meaninglessness of EVERYTHING you have - from cities through units to heroes - makes it very hard to grow attached to annything but your single stack of Elven Heroes protected by Fire/Ice Giants flying around on their magic carpet raping everything around. WHich is fun for the first 20 mins. After which you just turn of the game and weep about another hour of your life irreversibly lost. I highly recommend painting the wall and watching it dry instead.

Rating: 3/10
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markkur
markkur


Honorable
Legendary Hero
Once upon a time
posted March 12, 2011 11:31 PM

Well Doom, that was an interesting review. I had to laugh several times, mainly about your Hero and his easy demise.

Where did you come across this gem? Never heard of it.

I agree that it does have points that "could" have made it a rival to HoMM1, (boy, don't those graphics just make ya drool)but with all of your findings; it sounds like "they" did not really understand their own game. Kinda like Ubi/Nival's H5 map-editor and their keen insight to the fan's needs.<L>

Entertaining read. Make a great day!

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Doomforge
Doomforge


Admirable
Undefeatable Hero
Retired Hero
posted March 13, 2011 10:46 AM

Thanks for shiny, MM

And thanks for the comment, Markkur. Yes, I'm also pretty certain that they didn't understand their own game. I think the lack of beta testing - which was normal for small titles of that age - made them miss the obvious flaws of the game. Early on it's satisfying, fun and innovative, you have to play till the end to see through its numerous flaws and bad mechanics. I was harsh on this game, even though for most heroes fans it's an entertaining way to spend a few hours - however, the fact that you'll inevitably going to get bored - contrary to HoMM which can be played over and over - is the biggest downside of them all.

And a small update - I wrote that all ranged units deal 1 point of damage, which isn't correct. Mage units deal 1-2 points of damage and are much more accurate. Perfect candidate for rapier of quickness, since, like heroes, they can hold items

As for where I discovered the game - I had two CDs full of rare shareware games once. I only remember that one of them was yellow and the other blue, which obviously doesn't help much The other game I loved from that era - along with this one - was Battle Isle 2, which definitively deserves to be reviewed, for its a great, underrated game.
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markkur
markkur


Honorable
Legendary Hero
Once upon a time
posted March 13, 2011 03:13 PM

Quote:
Thanks for shiny, MM

As for where I discovered the game - I had two CDs full of rare shareware games once. I only remember that one of them was yellow and the other blue, which obviously doesn't help much


Too funny, Once upon a time I had many of the same, although yellow , red and orange come to mind.

One "ancient" game that I wish could be resurrected is "Man O' War".
At the time of its release it was a groundbreaker and would still be fun to play even in its original form.

You had to command a ship and could pick one within a fleet in action. You had to sail the ship with various-winds, compass and sail configuration. You also commanded the shot-type that your cannons used etc. Different shot required different amount of load time. Sails shortened for battle. Chain-shot trying to hit masts. All of that. The drag of the game was getting caught in the wind "locked in irons" I think it was called. If that happened the battle was over. There was also a time clock that could be sped-up much like many later games.

Anyway, the game came with several naval battles (British) like Trafalgar and it would have all the ship names listed (I checked and they were accurate) and you could also make your own engagement.

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yogi
yogi


Promising
Famous Hero
of picnics
posted April 24, 2015 09:49 AM

i just discovered this gem, and came here to see if anyone had already shared it.  i am having a blast!  there are soo many aspects to this game that i wish would be ported over to homm.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KEKjs7MCxY8

its free now too - http://www.old-games.com/download/5290/hammer-of-the-gods

@doomforge: climb the tree as fast as you can, raze and subjugate less, raid and plunder more.
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yogi - class: monk | status: healthy
"Lol we are HC'ers.. The same tribe.. Guy!" ~Ghost

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Doomforge
Doomforge


Admirable
Undefeatable Hero
Retired Hero
posted May 10, 2015 09:25 PM

Oh, cool that someone played it except me

I forgot to mention that there is an artifact that is too broken to compete with and it's the artifact you mentioned at the end, too.

Fear actually instantly removes a unit from combat - and it's overpowered beyond belief. It's basically the "I win button" against the opponent's top stack.
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orzie
orzie


Responsible
Supreme Hero
posted May 10, 2015 10:08 PM
Edited by orzie at 22:10, 10 May 2015.

Sorry to disappoint, but the true HoMM predecessor is King's Bounty (1990).
Yeah, I know that it's too late.


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Salamandre
Salamandre


Admirable
Omnipresent Hero
Wog refugee
posted May 10, 2015 10:57 PM
Edited by Salamandre at 22:57, 10 May 2015.

Do you realize that there is no visual difference between those sprites and those from H7, based on battle screens? In fact, those are even more clear, we can tell what sort of monster there is.

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khalbrae
khalbrae


Adventuring Hero
posted May 31, 2015 06:01 AM
Edited by khalbrae at 06:03, 31 May 2015.

Doomforge said:
I forgot to mention that there is an artifact that is too broken to compete with and it's the artifact you mentioned at the end, too.

Fear actually instantly removes a unit from combat - and it's overpowered beyond belief. It's basically the "I win button" against the opponent's top stack.


That's actually a review from an PC games magazine that was distributed entirely on CD-ROM. Way ahead of its time.

Here's a similar such review for the original Heroes of Might and Magic.

I own a few CDs and worked with Shyranis to rip them and upload said reviews on her account back in the day... then archive.org started sharing a ton of them and now you can find these reviews all over youtube.

Not that that's a bad thing.


I recently played Hammer of the Gods myself to try it out. Pretty fun.

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blob2
blob2


Undefeatable Hero
Blob-Ohmos the Second
posted May 31, 2015 11:24 AM

Ahh, the good ol' times when games were ridiculously unbalanced...

Now gamers are sooo demanding, they whine about the smallest disproportions in units stats

Reminds me of Heroes 2 Ghosts

On a side note sometimes it's really surprising how some concepts, be it a game, a movie or a book, were so ahead of their times... it's only after your discover sth by chance that opens your eyes.

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Doomforge
Doomforge


Admirable
Undefeatable Hero
Retired Hero
posted July 09, 2015 09:14 AM

games from the 90s generally suffered from poor balancing. In a video game this is important, esp. ones meant to play with friends. If you want to win, you're bound to use what works. And the fear artifact being the I-win button...


oh and it also crashes the game. If you use it on a stack that is close to the middle of the battlefield or further away, game hangs
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Mediczero
Mediczero


Famous Hero
Warlord of the sea
posted October 30, 2016 12:08 AM

Pretty interesting read honestly. Good to know a little about a pretty unknown (for a good reason) game.

And a funny coincidence that this shares almost the same faction as in one of my side projects. Or maybe not considering both is nordic themed and that these are not what you would call "unique" factions.
The quest system seemed like a fairly good idea though.

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NimoStar
NimoStar


Responsible
Legendary Hero
Modding the Unmoddable
posted October 30, 2016 02:15 AM

I think that for an Heroes games player, that already played Heroes II and above, this game might be a better way to innovate their experience than playing Heroes I for example...

ALso, do not be too harsh on balance. On this says only a few people would develop a game. If they had to balance everything, before including, from their manpower, they would never include much. So they had to include secondary things without much playtesting (which would be way too slow). As a modder that has to playtest everything himself, I know how demanding it can be. And when I ask for balance ffeedback nobody gives it, so ... very slow it is : P
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