CPU: Intel Core 2 Duo E4400 @ 2.0 GHz / AMD Athlon64 X2 3800+ @ 2.0 GHz
RAM: 2 GB
GPU: nVidia GeForce 8800GT / AMD Radeon HD2900 256 MB
OS: 7 SP1, 8, 8.1
CPU: 133 MHz Intel Pentium
RAM: 32 MB
HDD: 425 MB
GPU: DX 7.0a compatible
The difference is of course immediate, but we have to remember it's been a long time since the game came out. According to Steam's hardware survey, there are few people who would not be able to run the game - though perhaps the target audience for this remaster is leaning more towards the older hardware.
The remaster is also the first digital release to provide the multitude of languages the game was released in in the past - which is perhaps the most exciting part of the deal! Though switching languages isn't the smoothest, requiring a repeat download of translated files every time, it's great to see them there. However, with English being recommended for multiplayer, this becomes ever more annoying if you'd like to play your localized release in campaigns and single-player.
The copy of the game was provided by the developer at our request.
For the first time, the game officially supports resolutions higher than 800x600. The experience out of the box is simple and enjoyable, requiring no extra set-up - something which is currently unavoidable with the original release. Though the HD modification provided support for resolutions up to 4000x4000, it should be noted the approach is quite different.
[compimg]http://community.pcgamingwiki.com/uploads/gallery/album_68/med_gallery_7_68_301445.png|http://community.pcgamingwiki.com/uploads/gallery/album_68/med_gallery_7_68_169861.png|960|540|Original (HD mod)|Remaster[/compimg]
As can be seen, where the remaster provides higher resolution graphics, with a layout similar to the original, the mod makes full use of the space, providing you with a vast overview of the map at any point in time. This doesn't mean that either approach is superior, as I personally can attest to loving the bigger scale of the UI on my laptop, I still find it quite wasteful on the bigger monitor at my desktop. For example, the lack of scaling helps with not wasting space, with the mod making use of the extra real estate by providing quick access to the previously hidden buttons.
The most advertised feature are of course the new graphics. Even though a straight 800x600 comparison might not show a major improvement, perhaps even seeming as a down-grade:
The difference becomes huge when we're talking about the more common resolutions of today. While the changes to the world and map are not that astounding at first, the absolute beauty of towns and battlefields makes this remaster more than worth it in my mind - where you had to fill in the gaps in the past, we now see Fortress, or Rampart in its full glory.
We took the screenshots at scale with a 1920x1080 resolution - where downscaling the game might favour the older release, it is not fully relevant to how most people would play the game today.
At a higher resolution, the graphics remain very faithful to the original, only providing more details as needed without changing the look of the game. The differences are subtle at first, but the game is much more pleasant to look at with the newly repainted art.
Unfortunately, while we can see all the work that went into making this amazing game look even better, some parts did escape their attention. All the cutscenes remain at their original resolution, receiving seemingly no improvements at all. Similarly, the superb soundtrack did not receive an upgrade in quality, and neither did any of the background sounds in the game.
Lastly, for those who would like to still play with the old graphics, you can simply switch back to the at any moment with the press of a button - by pressing F2 at any moment the game will load and switch back to the old assets.
You can get and compare the full resolution screenshots here.
Features & issues
Excluding the new graphics and higher resolution support, the game did not receive many other new features. One improvement worthy of mention however is the new lobby system, providing a much easier experience for organising multiplayer games. Where the original required pre-planning, especially so if you didn't have friends ready to jump in with you, it's a lot easier to start at any moment now.
What should be noted however, is that regardless of the game having an easier to use lobby system, in perhaps quite the old fashion, it still requires you to read the manual on how to host and connect to a multiplayer game - as without opening a few ports, you will see just an empty server list.
With the transition to the new lobby system, there were also some losses. Perhaps the saddest, but quite common lately, is the disappearance of LAN support, meaning you have to rely on nothing other than Steamworks for multiplayer.
This release is of course not without issues - though thankfully, the developers are compiling an ever updated list on the Steam Community Discussions to keep everyone updated on what is known and being worked on. Some of the problems are relatively minor, however quite a few are game breaking.
For a start, the game is prone to getting into conflicts with certain anti-virus software, requiring the user the mark the directory as safe by hand, or even requring disabling the AV software entirely - neither of which is necessarily a good idea. The conflicts lead to the game not launching at all, or crashing shortly after launch, so we hope this will soon be addressed. Also experienced by many users is noticeable mouse lag. While not entirely breaking, it does feel a little uncomfortable to play at the moment. Additionally, the game does seem to have carried over a couple of crashes and bugs from the first release, something that one would have expected could have been avoided - the bugs were known for quite a while now.
A feature that's mentioned a lot as missing is the random map generator - however, we need to keep in mind that Restoration of Erathia did not have a map generator in the first place. Thankfully, the community was quick to step up, and a program that's able to convert Armageddon's Blade and Shadow of Death's maps, as well as generate new ones is already present and working. You can find out more about it here.
This remaster, as any, is not without issues. With the not exactly smooth multiplayer experience, and sadly the complete lack of expansions, it still could use a bit of work. With that said, I would fully and readily recommend this release to anyone looking into getting back into the game, or wanting to try out this classic without having to worry about mods.
Despite the short-comings, I find the repainted towns, monsters and maps to be absolutely worth it. After spending likely thousands of hours in the game previously, on the standard release, expansions, and later the complete edition, this re-release looks precisely as I would have hoped it did.
Hopefully we will still see further support from DotEmu, ideally even remaking the expansions despite the loss of the source code. There are plenty of things the fans would still like to see from the game, and a decade and a half on, it is still the best entry in the series.
P.S. Bring back the Forge please.
Remastered is a series of impressions regarding the technical aspects and features of a re-release of an older game. This report was written by PCGamingWiki contributor Soeb. For an up to date account of Heroes of Might and Magic III HD fixes and improvements, please visit its respective PCGamingWiki article.
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