Dark Messiah of Might and Magic, the PC original, was a brutally exciting, if a little repetitive, action title.
Its major flaws were a combination of poor design choices (shallow character progression) and lack of play testing (some shocking bugs and glitches) that left it languishing well below the standard of true greatness.
Released way back towards the holiday period of 2006, it seems an odd time to re-visit a title and bring it to one of the major power-packing HD ready consoles. But Ubisoft obviously see the benefit, and with an alleged extra 2 hours worth of content, Dark Messiah of Might and Magic: Elements finally makes its belated console appearance.
Though the Might and Magic section of the title might encourage visions of beardy role-playing epics, Elements possesses the beating heart of a true action title. Think Oblivion, but without the masses of wandering and tedious chat.
As you progress, you can forget the initial swings of powerless swords, and stabs with tiny daggers, and instead get tucked right into some of the glorious magic spells you are eventually given.
However, these obvious forms of combat aren’t the whole story. As your enemies consistently seem eager to stand in the most perilous of places, it’s all too easy to use your surroundings to your advantage. A swift kick can easily knock your opponents straight off a cliff, or into that handy set of spikes that seem as if they were placed in that spot just to satisfy your bloodlust.
Unlike Oblivion however, the story here is as dull as dishwater. While the somewhat tedious story of the aforementioned RPG title was easily avoided by a roam into the countryside, Elements is staunchly linear. There are no casual meanderings to pick up a few flowers that one of the world’s characters desires above all other things.
It is not that there isn’t any story to devour. Just that what there is is so astonishingly boring and uninviting that you’ll be hard-pressed to remember what it was all about a half hour after you’d watched the ending credits roll. Which could be quite handy considering there’s a selection of different endings depending on some of your choices along the way.
As it's utilising Valve’s Source engine, you’d expect a stunningly gorgeous title. But sadly Elements is certainly showing its age graphically. Though some areas have indeed been touched-up to a nice polish, and witnessing events on a huge screen is always better than your PC monitor, it’s a lengthy step behind the kind of stunning looks the likes of Call of Duty 4 has given us to gorge ourselves silly on.
Luckily, the almost 18 months between the two versions being released has meant that almost all the technical issues have been firmly dealt with. While the PC version was susceptible to crashing at any second for seemingly no reason, this Xbox 360 iteration is solid as a proverbial rock. If only the same could be said about the console, huh?
It might not be quite as depth filled as you would have hoped, and a single play through will only take a matter of a free day, but there’s little doubt that Elements can be a lot of fun if you’re into the whole bloodlust thing.
If fantasy-themed brutal first-person action is what you’re after, you could do a hell of a lot worse.