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Ubidays 2007

Dark Messiah of Might and Magic: Elements

Sometimes it seems like there are only two constants in the world of computer games; firstly, the game names must get longer and longer and secondly that every good PC game must later have a lesser console port.

Rules were made to be broken though, and Dark Messiah: Elements may be the one to break them this year.

At it’s base, Elements is a standard Xbox 360 port of the excellent first person roleplay-lite game from Arkane Studios last year, which you can check our thoughts on if you need reminding. Once again the player will take control of Sareth, a prophesized child who has been trained as an adventurer all his life in preparation for the his role in what would seem to be a deliberately ambiguous foretelling of the worlds possible destruction.

Just as with the PC version, players must aid Sareth in his mission to uncover and understand his role in the prophecy of the Dark Messiah and use a variety of paths to achieve objectives across a number of stunningly designed levels built in the Source engine.

Ubidays 2007 Dark Messiah: Elements Ubidays 2007 Dark Messiah: Elements
The PC version of Dark Messiah, click to enlarge

The console version of the game however, with an inexplicable but oh-so-fashionable suffix, will expand Sareth’s journey a wee bit through a total of four extra missions, providing a total of two hours extra gameplay on top of the PC version.

Much of the gameplay has been redesigned for the 360 too, with collectable relics scattered throughout the levels unlocking various achievements and rewards. Rebalancing was a major effort for the developers too, who noted that specific character choices in the PC version made certain areas almost impossible, while other areas were ridiculously easy to balance.

This rebalanced gameplay has been facilitated by a new tracking system that has been introduced to the game which monitors the skill levels of the player, similar to that used in the PC version of Sin Episodes, which was also one of the first titles released on Steam that wasn't developed by Valve Software.

Specific changes to the game include the fact that the adrenaline bar doesn’t drain away over time as it did on the original, forcing players to keep killing in order to replenish it. Instead, the adrenaline now constantly accumulates throughout the game.

Ubidays 2007 Dark Messiah: Elements Ubidays 2007 Dark Messiah: Elements
The PC version of Dark Messiah, click to enlarge

Enemies now also have health bars above their heads and damage inflicted to them appears as numbers floating off of them. It’s an old school technique, but it has a pleasing RPG feel to it that we felt fitted in nicely to the game's new design.

Multiplayer has also been massively redesigned. One of the major weak points of the original version, the multiplayer for the 360 version has new levels and restructured class choices, all of which were extensively play-tested to ensure a decent balance. Word from the developers also hinted that a multiplayer demo would be available on Xbox Live in around four to six weeks.

When you really get down to it though, Dark Messiah was a good game on PC mainly because it walked the fine line between being fun to play and complex enough to want to replay. Though it looks promising right now, we’re not sure that a rebalancing of the game and a handful of extra levels is really enough to tempt us to buy it all over again and play it on a new platform.