The big question with Heroes of Might and Magic III is whether the formula is good enough to hold up three games in a row. After all, while Heroes III overhauls the appearance and otherwise expands upon its predecessors, its gameplay remains fundamentally similar. But this is anything but "more of the same".
The turn-based gameplay has you recruiting mercenary heroes, whom you then guide about an overhead map jam-packed with resources, treasure, magical artefacts, mysterious landmarks, monsters and more. Your heroes gain experience, skills and spells, and you put them in command of the largest armies that you can afford in an ultimate effort to defeat the enemy mercenaries looking to conquer you first.
Half the game is spent exploring and building, and the other half is spent in battle. The overhead map switches to a side view when you engage in combat, at which point you must command your various creatures against their enemies, taking turns moving unit stacks one by one depending on their speed. You can have up to seven types of creatures serving under a hero, with seven unique creatures available in each of the eight castles.
The single-player game spans six campaigns detailing the war to claim the Kingdom of Erathia from the perspective of good, evil and mercenary leaders alike. And if you can finish the campaigns, you still have dozens of single-player maps to try, with the promise of many more to come thanks to the map editor included with the game.
Heroes of Might and Magic III doesn't alter the formula much, but represents a refinement and improvement on a par with the finest sequels ever released. The promise of much more of everything--heroes, castles, creatures, artefacts, skills, spells--is gracefully accomplished so as to accentuate the game's complexity, style and strategy without making it feel excessive.