|Myth: the Fallen Lords|
Just based on game mechanics Myth was a leap forward, dispelling need for resource management and gathering, and instead focusing on squad and unit micromanagement. In Multiplayer games each player was given a set of points which they would use to buy units before the game started, enabling the player a great deal of freedom to specialize their tactics. A wide range of units were available ranging from undead suicide bombers called Wights to ent-like Forest Giants and on to hound-like Ghôls, who were worshippers of the Dark Gods and could throw lobbed off body parts on their enemies.
But it was in the solo campaign that the game excelled.
Set in a world dominated by a cyclic turn of events every 1,000 years would see a prosperous era of peace destroyed by great forces of evil lead by a character called the Leveller who would usher in an era of darkness and suffering. At the time of the first game an evil warrior-mage called Balor has sacked a great city called Muirthemne and is spreading his hordes of dark creatures across the continent and the few remaining free people are hard pressed in their fight for survival. I give you the Intro Cutscene Movie.
The game follows the desperate struggle out of Madrigal and through 25 levels as the company take the fight to Balor and his most powerful generals, the Fallen Lords. The player commands a small squad of characters through desperate sieges, fleeing impossible odds and deep in enemy territory on covert assassination assignments. The game is beautifully narrated by one of the soldiers in the squad keeping a journal on events. (Hear that, fellow Cook fans!?) I recently read a review on the GURPS Myth companion and can wholeheartedly agree with the opinion that the narrator-actor is one of the, if not the finest of voice-actors I've heard in a computer game.
The game draws heavy inspiration not just from Glen Cook's literature but also from pop-culture and a lot of Celtic mythology. Balor, as the Leveller, and his Fallen Lords lean heavily on the Dominator and his the Ten Who Were Taken and the Leveller character is actually prefaced by a great comet visible in the sky much like in the first few of the Black Company novels.
The northmen, Berserkers, are scottish Braveheart-inspired warriors with face paint and fur-underwear (He-Man, anyone?) and impressive names like Thrend atop the Piled Dead and Hjonfing with Arms Soaked Red.
Many of the characters have received names from Celtic mythology as mentioned, with Balor of the Evil Eye the most apparent one.
I'd say the most impressive thing about Myth: the Fallen Lords is it's immersive and impressive story, it's legends and it's worldbuilding. The general feel of the game is dark and brutal, it's a hard world and the player is fighting on the brink of total darkness and against almost impossible odds throughout the game. The legends of older times, with great heroes and notorious villains, are told not just in the cutscenes and journal entries by the narrator before every level but also in the flavor texts of the units as well as in in-game dialogue. It is a rich world that Bungie paints, with many mysteries and puzzles for the player to solve if they're so inclined.
If you haven't tried Myth: the Fallen Lords or Myth 2: Soulblighter you have definitely missed out on something absolutely special. Games like these are, well at least to me, one in a lifetime. Especially if you're a fantasy fan down with the dark, dirty and gritty.
Get to the bargain bin, and if you fancy a co-op drop me a line!
And if you're itching to get into the deeper lore of the game, drop by Myth.bungie.org, the absolute foremost of sites dedicated to this unbelievably under-appreciated game.