"Vnarin, son of Snorro, best explained the character of the men of the
elite mortar brigade when he said, îIt takes a certain kind of maniac to
carry fire in his fist and death on his back." -Felling, Dwarven Mortar
from Myth II: Soulblighter
It also takes a certain kind of company to redefine a game genre, and
that is just what Bungie Software has done -- again. After releasing
their award-winning strategy game Myth: The Fallen Lords in November of
1997, Bungie has come back with a sequel that will be sure to please even
the casual gamer. Myth II: Soulblighter builds on the standard that
Bungie has set, and raises the bar for the industry to follow.
Prepare to be blown away (literally) by this exciting game that is,
without question, one of the most innovative of the year.
In The Beginning
The story line in Myth II starts 60 years after the Great War. Alric
rules the rebuilt city of Madrigal, and there is general peace throughout
the land. However, as you might have guessed, chaos is once again lurking on the horizon, this time in the form of the awesome Soulblighter. It's your job to lead your
troops through tunnels, over bridges, and across many hills to defeat
Soulblighter and his minions.
Defeating this monster is no easy feat; you'll need to learn how to
manage your troops before you can begin your twenty-four level campaign.
The tutorial is a good place to start. The tutor will introduce you to
camera angles, movement, formations, attacks, and the use of special
abilities. After you complete the lessons, you get a chance to play
around with a handful of units; exploring the map and learning the
strengths and weaknesses of each character's weapons. While the tutorial
shows you the basics, you'll only learn real battle tactics with
experience. You won't know to stop a dwarf from throwing a cocktail
amongst your attacking warriors until it happens to you. The sound of
the narrator declaring "Casualties" will echo in your mind the next time the
Understand the Interface
Myth II offers a comprehensive interface and controls are easy to use.
Movement is as simple as clicking on your destination and attacking is as
simple as clicking on the enemy. Formations are used with either a key
of 0-9, or using the helpful control bar located at the bottom of the
screen. The control bar has a number of other functions as well; buttons
are included for stop, hold, scatter, retreat, and special. A similiar
status bar is shown at the top that shows various information such as
units selected, number of kills a particular unit has, veteran status,
and number of items available to a unit. There is also a button that
brings up a window containing general tips and mission objectives. Both
bars can be shown and hidden using F6 and Shift-F6 within any game. If
you're the forgetful type, Bungie provides a quick reference card in the
box that lists every default keyboard command available.
The overhead map warns you of enemy units (shown in red) and will help
you keep track of your own units (shown in green). The yellow trapezoid
in the overhead map shows you where your current field of view is and an
arrow shows you which direction you are facing. The overhead map can
easily be turned off using the Tab key, which can add a unique challenge
to a game if you find it too easy. Of course, there are five difficulty
settings that range from Timid to Legendary; the easiest three are very
completable by a new player while the Heroic and Legendary settings will
often take a veteran to conquer. A great new feature for new players is
the half speed option available in single player levels, where you can
slow the speed of the game to give you time to move your units during
chaotic battles. Myth II is also fine for younger players with concerned parents, as
Bungie has added a no blood option. Instead of seeing body parts and
blood flying across your screen, they are replaced by armor and stars,
respectively. The option is lockable with a password so parents can keep
the setting intact.
Just short of becoming a pile of body parts, your units will become
injured in battle. They won't pant or cry out when they're close to
folding over, so just hover your mouse over a unit to see their health
which is shown as a vertical bar alongside the unit. Also, for units
that possess magic, a blue mana bar shows how much you have available.
Your mana is constantly regenerating at a fairly quick pace, but you do need to have mana available to
use a spell or weapon, which keeps things balanced. If you click and
hold on a unit or group of units, you'll notice a yellow arrow that pops
up. This lets you easily tell the unit which directiuon to face. After
all, your army can't fight unless they can see what they're about to
Details, Details, Details
Myth II: Soulblighter immerses you in an environment that is enjoyable
and believeable with both obvious and subtle details. The terrain is
absolutely stunning, where you can see every gradient in a slope, every
reflection in the water, and every shadow on the ground. Windmills,
village huts, wildlife, and waterfalls add to both the realism of the
game and the enjoyment that great graphics provide. The scenery is not
only great-looking, but is a tool that you must use and be aware of to be
successful in battle. For instance, a dwarf can achieve a greater throwing range
if he's standing up on top of a hill. On the other hand, if there is
snow on the ground, that dwarf's molatov cocktails will have trouble exploding
before they're put out by the moisture of the snow. Weather conditions
also affect archer arrows, which are far less accurate when the wind
picks up. The terrain can also be used as an ambush tactic; certain
units can be hidden in swamps and rivers and catch an unsuspecting melee
off guard. Of course, the terrain looks best with 3D acceleration
and Myth II supporting both Voodoo and RAVE based solutions. One
benefit that can only be used with a 3D card is 3D fog, which looks
absolutely stunning. Otherwise, software rendering is
very playable, albeit with slightly watered down graphics.
Units are also extremely well-detailed. Each unit has a name and a short
story behind it, both of which can be seen in the status bar at the top of
the screen. You can change the name of any of your units, so instead of
Balin the Great going on the suicide mission, it's your boss from work! Units are
also visually appealing, with such subtle things as a wight surrounded by
disgusting little flies wherever they go. Each unit also has a taunt
which can be both amusing and annoying. Don't let those ghols intimidate
your dwarf! Make your dwarves' molotov cocktails fly when a ghol comes
near, because each kill for any unit contributes to their speed and
accuracy. Arrows will hit more targets as archers gain experience and
bezerks will swing their swords faster as well. These subtle details
liven the gameplay and add a new dimension to battle tactics. îHero' units also add a different perspective to the game, with each one being able to endure greater damage and unleash their attack faster and with greater range.
Bungie really spared no expense in the development of Myth II. One of
the reasons that they could complete the project in eight months was that
they had two seperate companies do their animated cutscenes and sound and
music. Anime International Company, of Tokyo, Japan, a leader in
anime-style animated cartoons and movies, was hired to do the cutscenes
for Myth II: Soulbighter, and the result was absolutely amazing. The
scenes are well-displayed and help draw the player into the story and all
of its drama, although it would've been nice to have had more than a handful of them. Some pieces of the introduction movie could have been more
detailed, but overall the quality is outstanding. The music and sound in
the game, done by Total Audio, is equally well done and professional.
Everything from the snort of the pigs to the cries of the villagers was
very well presented. The voice acting was the best I have ever heard in
a game of any genre, and really enhances the suspense of the plot. The
sound in Myth II is one of the subtle quality marks of the game that add
to its appeal.
Let's Go Global
Granted, Myth II has some great single player levels, but the true fun only begins when you go up against friends and foes from around the world. Look no
farther than Bungie's own free Bungie.net service (TCP/IP and AppleTalk
games are also supported). It's very simple to use; fill out a short
form on the website to get a login and password and then enter that
information in the multiplayer Bungie.net screen. You now
have access to players from around the world to play with, 24 hours per
day, 7 days per week.
Bungie.net consists of about 24 rooms seperated into two different types:
ranked and unranked. In ranked mode, statistics such as damage inflicted,
damage received, and place (1st, 2nd, 3rd) are recorded in each game you
play and tallied into your totals. Your comparative rank is displayed in
a caste system, where you start out as a single dagger and build up wins
to eventually become an emperor. In unranked mode, no game records are kept
and no ranks are displayed. Also, you can work on single player levels
cooperatively with a number of other players. Rank statistics are listed
for any other player to see; whether you're in a game or not. Besides
your gaming performance, the statistics screen also has areas for city,
state, and a quote from you. These are all optional for you to fill in,
but it can be used as an intimidation tactic. After all, you're going to
need all the help you can get going up against some of the best gamer's
in the world. Up to 16 players in a game are supported (which actually works, unlike
Myth I's 13 player limit).
Bungie.net for Myth II offers an intuitive interface and has been greatly
enhanced from the Bungie.net of Myth I. Games on the right show various
options selected for that particular game, as well as a ping, which tells
you how fast that host can send packets to your location (lower pings
mean less "lag", or stalling of a game). Players with 28.8 modems can
play a game on Bungie.net reliably and will have a very enjoyable
experience. In fact, most players on Bungie.net are normal modem users
and not only join games but host them as well! For games with more than
5-6 players, a host with a high speed connection is recommended. Bungie
has learned from the known tricks of Myth I and put in safeguards against
cheating on Bungie.net: four players must join a ranked game and press
ready before it can begin, points are only given to players who master a
wide variety of maps and games, and volunteer administrators are in place
to keep order on the service. Support for orders, or formal teams of
players, has been built into the service so it can track the performance
of orders and give them rank accordingly. All registered members of your
order are listed in the Order tab, and you can set up to eight buddies to
be listed in your Buddy tab. This allows you to easily find and go to a
player anywhere on Bungie.net; a process that used to involve jumping
from room to room in a frenzied search.
Once you have joined a game and it begins, there are several differences
from single player game that are immediately apparent. First, in most
games, a window will immediately appear at the top of your screen that
allows you to choose which units you'd like to use for that game. Each
team or player is given the same amount of points to use in choosing a
suitable army, so the game remains balanced regardless of past
experience. Messages can be whispered to teammates, or yelled to
everyone in the game. The captain of the team begins with all of the
units and disperses them to his team members. The overhead map includeds
a pencil and eraser tool, so the captain can illustrate plans of attack
for your teammates. Be sure to listen to what your captain tells you to
do or your whole team could suffer from your mistakes.
The multiplayer maps and games offered in Myth II: Soulblighter are
varied and offer opportunities for numerous different battle tactics.
With 20 different multiplayer maps and up to 13 games available for each
map, the game will remain exciting for months on end. Also, Myth II
ships with map and tag editors, called Fear and Loathing, so 3rd party
individuals can make additional maps and units and share them freely with
the Myth community. Additionally, Bungie itself will be releasing
additional maps from their web site for free download, so there will be
no shortage of new Myth experiences.
After a game has ended, detailed statistics are shown for each player or
team. A films of any game can be saved for later viewing, which is an
excellent feature that allows you to study losses for mistakes or share
your triumphs with friends across the înet. Films are extremely small in
size and viewable on both Mac and Windows machines, which makes them
perfect for sharing over the 'net.
Myth II: Soulblighter is a legendary
accomplishment and a step forward for the entire game industry to follow.
Bungie has once again blown life into a genre becoming increasingly
repetitive, and this is one game that is arguably the most innovative of
all time. Myth II is a sure fire winner that will delight players for
years to come.
Download Saved Games
How To Access The Secret Levels
We won't provide these levels for you to download (that would take the fun out of finding them), but we will tell you how to get to them.
Level 3.5 - A Long Awaited Drinking Party
When you are almost at the gate at the end of Level 3 (Down a Broken Path), split your units up into two groups, the archers and dwarves in one and the warriors in the other. When the gates open, rush your archers and dwarves in. Rurik follows the warriors, so he'll stay put outside the gate. Once you have your archers inside the gate, have the warriors enter. Right as Rurik steps inside the gate, have your archers shoot him. This must be done right as he walks in; if he takes another step you will end the level normally. You will then be taken to an... interesting... three picture cut scene. You will receive new units in Level 3.5, Poachers who are armed with old muskets. Their job? Kill all the deer. But watch out, these aren't normal deer...
Level 20.5 - Limbs, Heads and Smoking Craters
After Soulblighter has flown away at the end of Level 20 (A Murder of Crows), exit the level to the north east instead of the south east. You will be taken to this... explosive... level.