Since the titles have really a lot in common, we're using one review for both, listing first the differences (plot) and then the similarities (gameplay).
After generations of oppression, Tarnum discovers his people's true history and leads an arm of Stronghold troops against their tyrannical masters. Marching from the arid roughlands of his homeland and the muggy swamps of the lowlands, he follows and even surpasses the deeds of his legendary ancestor who defeated these spellcasters long ago. Yawn...
Conquest of the Underworld
In this one you accompany Queen Allison on her journey through Underworld to save her father... So you get the plot, Good vs. Evil... Zombies, Skeletons and other minions to slay... The usual stuff :). If you want the original boring version of the plot like for Warlords of Wastelands... When the soul of Queen Allison's father is kidnapped from Paradise, Tarnum escorts her through the mindlessly twisting tunnels and endless cursed grounds of the Underworld. Every step of this epic journey is blocked by a fiery Inferno or foggy Necropolis from which march demons and undead determined to make Tarnum a permanent inhabitant of the land of the dead.
Yes, this is yet another HOMM title. Being a big fan of the serie (I played all of them since HOMM1 came out) i actually waited fot this one to come out. Well, I bought and installed it... And I was up for a big surprise.
This game contains only ONE scenario (8 maps) and no custom levels/editor support... So as you might understand the replayability is very low. I think that originally 3DO planned to releases all 4 Heroes Chronicles titles as once game, but instead separated each scenario into a separate game in attempt to make some quick cash. Pretty damn fuckign lame :/. That's why the score has suffered. But here's some more about the game itself: you play as a Barbarian rebel that decided to stand against wizards that keep his land under their control and ruthlessly eliminate all opposition. You start as a simple warrior and end up being the King of the barbarian empire. The story is interesting, the gameplay is as good as always, the GFX look good, the maps are very well designed, BUT there are basically no major improvements over HOMM3. :/. But oh well, it's still a nice game and whoever liked the homm serie or any other turn based strategies shuold be hooked up on this one as well.
All in all graphics are good, tough a bit dated, anyway sprite based games can't look much better than this. Just lets wait for another 10 games having the same engine, same graphics and just different plots.
An Homm title can't fail in this section!
Consider it a 9/10 if you love SLOOOOOOW strategy games, and consider it a 3/10 if you are willing to get an arcade game. People withouth a lot of time will dump this genre of games, finding all the effort of recruiting, building, teaming too time consuming. Anyway those that will start giving some interest to such games, will not easily get out, just games like Ultima Online can kill this genre, genre that counts far too much sons on his list.
The target of the game is, of course, people that did play previous titles and that are mad fans of Ad&d and 'stuff' like that. Anyway may also result as an interesting game change for people playing Civilization and it's great number of followup and clones.