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I thought I would take the time to share my thoughts and opinions to the folks here, even though there is a good probability my review will be flamed by fanbois and praised by haters. That said, Im going to do my best to keep this as unbiased as possible, as Aion has alot of potential and really could be a great game given time and patience.
As people have said over and over again, the graphics in Aion are beautiful. Character models are fantastic and animations are crisp and realistic. The zones are beautiful to look at, and the colors are brilliant. NCSoft did a terrific job at creating a world that looks amazing.
Other than the occasional lag spike, I run the game on high settings at ~100fps. The lag spikes are due to the large influx of people in particular areas, and will even itself out during lifecycle of the game. The queues, however, are another story entirely. When the game first released, there were upwards of 4-5 hour queues to LOG IN. They knew how many people had pre-ordered, and that was completely avoidable. These days, on the high populated servers during peak times in the US, queues are typically btwn 30mins to an hour...still inexcusable imo.
First impressions in an MMO are very important, regardless of those who say end game is all that matters. When you first log into the game to make your first character, if you're not dazzled then you can become very biased immediately. Aion's character customization is unmatched by anything on the market currently. There are truely limitless possibilities on how your character appears, and you could spend literally hours making it just so should you choose. Aion truely gives you the possibility to make an in game character look exactly as you do IRL.
Unless its a straight grind MMO, which I personally haven't played since Shadowbane, questing plays a huge role in the development of not only an immersive story, but it serves as your main source of XP to gain levels. At the risk of sounding harsh, questing in Aion is straight boring. I've been playing MMOs since original UO, and have played over 30 in between. Aion, blatently, played it safe and did exactly what every other quest based MMO has done. Kill x of this mob, bring me y feathers, collect z of this fruit...absolutely no originality whatsoever. The campaign quests attempt to bring an underlying story to the game, but it just fealt so familiar. I will also touch on grinding later on, but it deserves its own category. That said....
There are so many arguments over the "grind" in Aion, I feel as if I have to pick a side or I'll be chastised by both. The bottom line is, there is a grind in Aion and those who say there isn't are either retarded, or just stupid. These days though, thats not a bad thing. I have to commend NCSoft, because there are some people who prefer to just run around killing things rather than following an organized storyline, and that is a viable option in this game. Grinding plays a big part in the game, as if you're questing a non-campaign quest you get more xp from killing all of the individual mobs in most cases than do you for turning in the quest. If thats not a grind, Im not sure what is ;]
The community is mixed, and the spammers are intense. The spammers just run rampant and the only way to get rid of them was to block them. That, unfortunately, is a double edged sword because you end up having to unblock spammers in order to block more. There are those who help, and the trade channel is visible no matter where you are in the world (awesome imo, and very handy to be able to shop while you quest), but there are also those who do nothing but flame, bitch, gripe, and talk about WoW. Yes, talking about WoW in Aion. Go figure.
In all honesty, this game was built to embrace PvP, and it really is alot of fun. The Abyss is unlike anything I've seen in an MMO to date, and of all the things I did in the game, I think that was easily the most entertaining. The combat system used in the game is also unique, and makes PvP really interesting.
Like PvP, this is definately one of Aions redeeming qualities. The system is familiar, but with a nice original touch with chain skills. Chain skills, for those who haven't played, are basically abilities that become available after you use particular other abilities. They appear next to your character after performing certain abilities and you can typically either click them, or press the associated button. It is very innovotive and a good addition to the genre - I think it will be used again in the future.
The crafting system is, blatently, more of the same. Gather items, press craft, wait for it to be done. The catch is, you can actually fail at crafting, so you could gather 50k Kinah worth of materials to fail, and still not get a skill up. I guess risk vs. reward comes to mind, but its still very agitating when you find yourself in that position. Again, I feel as if they could have done something different - I have seen very similar systems in many other MMOs, and what is the point in being able to press craft and then go afk for 30 minutes while you make your items? Maybe its just me, but I would prefer a more immersive approach.
All in all, I feel Aion is a game thats far from perfect, but has potential. Unfortunately, for me, it feels exactly the same as any number of other MMOs I've already played and I grew bored of it after about 2 weeks of release, plus several closed beta events. If you are a veteran MMOer, like myself, I feel as if you won't enjoy Aion as much as somebody just getting into the genre. It truely feels like more of the same in its current state. Hopefully this review helps at least one person decide if its the game for them or not - thanks for reading ;]