June 22, 2009 5 Comments
So, I tried it out.
I was impressed.
This is a game, that I swore up and down would be a Korean grind-fest, click to move, childish community, full of awful mechanics, out-dated principles, and just flat out poor implementation for the American market. I played Lineage 2 briefly, and while I thought the game was beautiful, particularly the gear, the game itself was just terrible to play. I was prepared to walk into a storm of mediocrity, and cumbersome game-play when I got the beta key this weekend. I fully expected that I would be canceling my pre-order, and saying good-bye to the short-lived affair I was about to have with Aion.
None of that came true. Instead, I started the download of the beta client, grabbed lunch, did some errands, watched a move (see Taken, it’s amazing), and just a few short hours after my start time, it was downloaded and ready to go, without a hitch. I fired up the client, and sat down to give this game a spin. My initial hopes for a cinematic were crushed, but it didn’t break the bank for me, as it’s the beta, and cinematics aren’t always released with them. Character creation spins up, and I face my first choice of the late afternoon. Which race? Being the goodie that I am, I go for the Elyos. Don’t know why, but I almost always pick the good people. I like Jedi more than Sith, Order more than Destruction, Qeynos more than Freeport. The only exception comes in Dark Knights, I love giant two-handers and life-taps. They’re just fun. /tangent_over
The classes are set up so that you progress to a new profession after reaching a certain level point. This has always been my prefered way of class assignment in games. It’s how EQ2 started, it’s how L2 is, and how SWG sort-of was. I like figuring it out as I go, and having my avatar do the same. It feels natural, and gives the player a chance to figure things out a bit before getting locked into a firm decision. So, I choose my Female Scout, with every intention of being a Ranger. The character customization at first glance is just a pick and choose of body types and heads, there were 30-some different heads to choose from, and 6 or so body types. I say at first glance, because as soon as you look to the right you see a whole slew of sliders for adjusting a lot of different options. Different faces, tattoos, decorations, hair, neck length, and a truck-load of other options where there to geek out on and make your character look however you want.
Once I got in-game, I was sad to see that I would not be given a bow from the start, apparently that doesn’t happen until you make it to level 10, and your first (only?) class change. Still, I had my dagger, a guy with a blue arrow over his head, and I was off. I read somewhere not too long ago about this game that rang in my ears as I played. Don’t come to this game expecting any MMO revolutions. This game has pretty much all the standard MMO conventions and evolutions of them you’ve seen in the past. What you should expect is a refinement and application of these practices to an incredibly polished, and well implemented degree that builds an amazing whole. This was really true for the entire time I played. I had the game cranked up to near maximum settings on everything, and I never had a second of computer-side lag. Controls were instantly responsive, and everything just easily flowed together. My biggest complaint in the first hour was that my compass had a rotating north position, and then I found an option to make North stay true, like a compass. That’s it. My biggest complaint was the stupid mini-map, that had a “fix” for my particular taste!
If you want to play a brand-new game and see how much polish it can have, this is the game to see. I know, it has been out in Asia for almost a year now, and has had that time to fix itself. However, if I look at WAR where it’s at now, and look at this game, Aion blows WAR out of the water. Aion now, is where WoW is at now in terms of playability. You don’t need to compare Aion to WoW of 4 years ago, compare it to WoW of NOW. I’m not sold 100% on the game yet, as the beta wouldn’t let me get past level 10. This stopped me from being able to take part in PvP and exploring a lot of the game world, as well as much of the crafting was denied me. If the rest of the game proves to be as fun, entertaining, and smooth as the beginning of this game, I’ll be all over it. Of course, we’ve all said that about a lot of games (AoC and WAR). That said, I didn’t cancel my pre-order for Aion, and I haven’t decided to resubscribe to WAR once my account ends on the 5th.
If any of you are reading this, if you get a chance to check this game out, I would highly suggest it. I think you will be impressed.