Heroes of Might and Magic V

So Nival made the right decision after all. While most studios practise a closed-off development process, Nival tried to keep fans of the fantasy-strategy Heroes of Might & Magic series informed. In theory, this would ease the fears of those who loved the games, as well as allowing them a degree of input. In practice, it led to Nival receiving death threats from mortified Russian gamers when they announced the changes they intended to make.

The problem is that Nival knows that the series is becoming stagnant - going as far as to compare it to the Police Academy movies - and that another Heroes flop will probably end it for good. So the team has both the burden of reinventing the games on their shoulders, and the monkey of zealous fans on their backs.

The ingenious solution has been to introduce changes, but to make them optional. The old game is still very much here. You take control of fantasy heroes and settlements, and gradually develop both as your opponents do the same. Each turn, heroes explore the fantasy world - defeating beasties, claiming resources and collecting treasure - using armies created back in the towns.

Battles are similarly turn-based, but take place in smaller, tighter arenas. But if you want to settle down in the comfy, stained old armchair of a game you've played four times before, just tick the right boxes.

Of course you'll be missing out on all the hot new additions, such as the dynamic battle system that forces players to decide on their moves quickly or not get them at all. The multiplayer game gets the most stylish of the new moves: if you don't have time for a whole game you can play short 15 minute duels, one-off battles with hand-picked armies.

You've also got ghost mode. Having to wait for other players to take their turn is tedious, so this enables you to haunt the world as they play, levelling up and boosting your ghoulish skills much as you do with your Hero during your turn. Ghosts can eat one another, steal resources and explore the map, but how much of it you can see depends on how strong your ghost is. Aside from being fun, this gives an incentive for players to finish their turns sharpish.