Monday, September 28, 2009

Aion level 1 – 10

Last Friday night I was playing WoW with some friends, and utterly bored. Another friend got on Vent and said he had picked up Aion. He then gave a fairly good review of the game up to level 10 and I trust his opinion, we have been MMO’n together since EQ circa 1998.

I went on Steam to see how much Aion cost and check some of the reviews. I figured I would add it to my cart and mull over the purchase while I slept. Well what I didn’t know is my Steam account is set up to auto purchase a game as soon as it hits my cart. So without knowing it, or meaning to I purchased Aion Collector’s Edition.

At that point I would like to say I’m obligated to play the game now. So I created an account and began installing. I woke up Saturday morning and began playing.

Character Creation Screen: It’s just like Age of Conan… or any MMO that allows sliders. It’s very detailed but other than height and hair you can’t really tell what people look like in game. I tried making a purple haired Lucy Liu character. At the time she looked pretty decent. I gave her realistic body parts, not the stereotypical Barbie build.

The down side is that you have so many options it’s almost overwhelming. The character creation, while detailed, isn’t very user friendly. You can click on the templates and a drop down menu appears to select one of 30 or so… however if you want to cycle through the 40 something hair styles or 20 or so faces you have to cycle through each one. It was a very slow and cumbersome experience.

Another issue I’ve found, as with most MMO’s, after 10 levels I already don’t like what I look like. My characters head feels to small for her body. She feels too Anime-ish for me. I would love for a MMO to permit us to redo our characters looks after about 10 hours of play once we get a feel for them. I’ve never understood how we were expected to create a character before we have even experienced the game.

So Epiny the Lucy Liu look alike Elyos was been created. I enter the game and I’m treated with an opening cinema. I couldn’t tell you what it was about because it skipped the whole time. I was sort of disappointed.

Into the game! The game starts out like most MMO. You spawn, go talk to the first NPC you see and get a quest. One thing that Aion has done better than any other MMO is a tutorial. You get pop ups with mini video’s on how to do things.

The starting area was beautifully crafted. The landscape is lush and amazing. I immediately felt like I was in a Final Fantasy cut scene. The character animations were fluid and everything ran amazingly well. This game has thus far lived up to the hype of “polish”. My ongoing problem with this is polish isn’t good enough.

The rest of the way to level 10 wasn’t that exciting. The combat was typical for most MMO’s. It felt much more reminiscent of EverQuest 2 than WoW. The Quests are a complaint I do have. Most quest dialogs are three pages of text to ask me to kill 5 birds. These stopped being quests a few years ago and became chores. I’m not your errand boy!.. or girl I guess since my character is a girl.

So far the first 10 levels have pleasantly surprised me. I feel like I’m heading down a road that I going to love and hate at times. I’m optimistic about Aion, but I’m not going to hold my breath yet. I’m going to remake my Ranger tonight simply because I find her that ugly.

If I was just rating this game on the starting area I would have to rate it average. While it was pleasant to look at and the turtorial was phenomenal I just think Age of Conan’s had a better “hook” story and Warhammer let you PvP from the start. It’s slightly better than EverQuest 2’s starting area and worlds better than anything WoW has offered thus far.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Homongenized Genre's

I love MMO’s. I’m not sure when it happened but they are the games I prefer to play most of all. Second would be a tie for old school RPG’s and Turn Based Strategy games. It’s not that I can’t handle twitch based games, it’s that I prefer a battle of wits.

Back in Starcraft: Brood wars heyday I was on a 2v2 team ranked 2nd on IGN. I use to spend 3 or 4 hours a night doing rail gun duels on Quake Arena. I’m no newbie to games that require reflexes… I just prefer the purity of a game whose only goal is testing your mental ability.

The last 6 years I’ve noticed a trend in the MMO market and strategy gaming market. MMO’s, RPG’s and Strategy games have slowly shed their chains of slow methodical combat and traded it for the flashy action packed combat style of action games. In a way this is a good thing. It opens up the genre’s to people who like a wider variety of games. An Action RPG will get people who like action games and people who like RPGs, in a sense doubling your possible consumer base.

The problem I am having with these types of games is that they are losing their identity. First Person Shooter games are getting character development much like standard RPG’s and RPG’s are getting combat that requires quick reactions and accurate timing. As these development trends continue I feel we are going to reach a point where there is only one homogenized genre.

The game developers are slowly pillaging all the uniqueness from games by targeting their games for the broadest market available. I fear it’s only going to get worse before it gets better.

Sorry... was afk

I know I’m only apologizing to myself but never the less; sorry for the lack of posts. For the next 3 weeks I’m going to make a conscience effort to post twice a week.