Another flight of arrows slams home with a meaty thunk but too few enemy fall. The undead Thrall keep coming, emerging from the waters of the ford relentlessly, lurching forward at an inexorable pace.
Outnumbered, you retreat your small group to the hill overlooking the ford, guarding your archers carefully with the steel-clad men-at-arms as Ghols are circling nearby. The pace is relentless.
Your dwarf races forward, covered by the bowmen, and hurls a flaming explosive bottle into a packed mass of undead. “Fire in the hole” he shrieks, scampering madly away as the explosive detonates, sending a cascade of bilious blood, limbs and heads hurtling through the air. A falling severed head fells one of your wounded swordsmen. Bodies, blood and abandoned weapons are littered across the landscape in a scorched and agonizing trail.
But the Thrall keep coming, now joined by the Souless, ghost-like wraiths hurtling all-too-real spears. More men fall. The archers are few in number now, and cannot keep the Thrall at a distance. The men-at-arms surge forward and swords begin to slash. The Thrall are falling. The archers turn their shots on the souless who, grinning, drift out of range.
Then it happens…
“Look out” screams a dwarf, hurtling a bomb into the densely packed melee of men and undead. The explosion obliterates the remaining Thrall, but slaughters all but one swordsman. “Sorry about that!” the dwarf apologizes, but it is, literally, his last words as three Ghol hammer him into the earth before turning and killing your now retreating bowmen. Your last swordsman turns to flee….
Thus ends a typical level in Myth: The Fallen Lords, a game that brought real-time tactical warfare and strategy out of the trap of “chopping trees’ and “mining gold.” There were no resources to be developed, no specialty buildings to be created – just raw, unadulterated action with the only resource being your ability to control and manage your troops.
Developed by Bungie (who brought us Halo, post-Myth) Myth arrived on the PC gaming scene in 1997, bringing with it such innovations as 3D terrain, real-world physics and barely controllable homicidal dwarves. For once in a game, hills and terrain actually mattered, formations mattered. Often your ability to survive and complete a level was utterly dependent on how well you read the landscape and positioned your forces. The high ground was vital, as were choke points, ranged weapons and understanding your troops various capabilities.
Formations were multifaceted and an absolute necessity. You needed to understand when and where a loose-line versus a tight diamond would work best. Understanding and managing your various units helped you win your war. Wandering through a level without paying attention would leave you easy meat for the Dark.
Throw in the terrific physics engine (mostly of note when things blew up), a tight, well-written plot, great voice-acting (the narration is particularly powerful), well-balanced levels, varied missions, appropriately horrific enemies in exquisite varieties, great atmosphere and Myth: The Fallen Lords was a first-rate PC game. Frankly Myth is still more enjoyable and original then many of the new games hitting the market. Myth offers both an involving single-player game and a terrific multi-player gaming experience.
Myth II: Soulblighter continued the series, with a sequel set 20 years after the events of the original game. With improvements in gameplay and more finesse in the controls, Myth II, if anything, was an even better gaming experience that improved upon the original in multiple ways.
Alas, the high-quality series was brought to a halt when Microsoft purchased Bungie, leaving the rights to Myth with Take Two interactive. Take Two farmed out Myth III to Mumbo Jumbo Software and released what was widely considered to be an inferior sequel. The Myth online community however was very strong and has developed a wide range of mods and add-ons including a version based on fuedal Japan, a Civil War variation and a squad-based WWII modification called Axis and Allies.
You can still find Myth: The Total Codex kicking around in the discount bins of your local store on occasion. Total Codex includes Myth I & II, a number of free mods and a free single-player campaign called Chimera.
If you have never experienced the sheer joy of tossing explosives on a massed formation of Mauls, or peppering a wight with arrows from a distance to watch the resultant landscape-distorting explosion, then you should pick up a copy of Myth. It is huge, terrific gaming fun!
For more info on Myth, drop by Wikipedia.
Myth and Myth II are rated M (Mature) by the ESRB for Animated Blood & Gore, Animated Violence. These games can also be found on: Mac.