Heroes of Might and Magic V

Call them necromancers or priests: the folks at Ubisoft have revived yet another classic-but-frozen franchise in the same vein as Prince of Persia. To preside over the reanimation of the beloved turn-based strategy franchise Heroes of Might and Magic, Ubisoft hired turn-based experts Nival Interactive (makers of the excellent Silent Storm). Nival's giving this spell-hurling, swashbuckling, dragon-fire drenched arena battle a splendiferous fantasy treatment in 3D, and it's the biggest leap for the franchise yet.

While Heroes dons a swanky new 3D look, longtime fans will be glad to hear that the developers are sticking to the classic Heroes combat system. Heroes gameplay focuses around a chess-like turn-based combat map, an arena where tactics are crucial but reflexes are not. You'll need to think through every move if you hope to achieve victory. The new Active-Time Battle System organizes your forces onscreen simply and easily while you plan for coordinated destruction or brace for an enemy onslaught. When you do cross swords, your Heroes and creatures will unleash cataclysmal destruction on demand. You bring the popcorn.

You can visit your faction's seat of power by using the City Map, a visual representation of your army's awesomeness. You'll be entranced by the sweeping views of these gigantic capitals, but they aren't just for looks. Each tower, battlement or structure you build ties to a specific trait increase or new unit type. Slap a mage tower onto your main structure to add spell-casters to your army; their power will increase as you build that tower to stratospheric heights. After a few sessions you'll be able to tell at a glance what kind of army would be supported by a city's layout. If your enemy's hometown is a medieval Manhattan and yours looks more like the cornfields of Kansas, take a rain check.