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Well, it's that time again. Time for me to review another MMO and it looks like I've chosen this one. I should warn you that this isn't my first encounter with this game. I got the chance to play it while it was still in beta. When I heard it was free2play I had no choice to hop in. Who can say no to free right?
Well to start off the game is beautiful...in its own way. Its art style combined with the fullscreen post-processing effects make for some serious eye candy. Its not incredibly High poly nor does it have all the intense shaders that Age of conan(or other nextgen mmos) has, but it has its own lemony flavor.
The game starts off on this big Shard ship. This is the tutorial. The very long and sometimes tedious and annoying tutorial. There's no way to skip it so you've got to stomach every second of it. Once you get past the tutorial you'll end up at the Hawk's Mouth Docks. Directly in front of you is a man...thing...standing on a crate with a green book floating above it's head.
That man/thing is the guy that gives you your first quest. The quests are pretty straight forward...kinda. You may get a quest that says “Kill Old Wilfried” but wont tell you where he is. Is this a bad thing not necessarily, but it can build some frustration. If you do happen to blow a gasket trying to find something might I recommend killing hoppies to vent that anger. Other than that the quests are your standard “Kill X amount of Y and bring me Z” and acclaim seldom strayed from that formula. I've heard a phrase on these forums that went something like “If you don't like grinding don't play MMO's” and its completely true for this game. There aren't thousands of quests to do so when you run out of quests you've got to grind to level up. Either that or drink lots of orange juice and milk so you can grow up big and strong.
You'll be killing a lot of things while your playing this game, but don't distress my pointy haired friends you've got a nice little reticle to keep you company. I have to say the reticle system is an interesting twist on game-play. Spellborn is a game that relies on player skill rather than your ability to press 1-9. They fashioned it to feel more like an FPS so hopefully your aim isn't terrible.
Moving through this well laid out beautifully rendered world is more of a chore. You'll find yourself walking just about everywhere. Most quests will tell you to walk half way around the world just to talk to a man about a horse. At least you'll have some nice animations to accompany you on your long arduous journey. All of the animations in the game are well done. Movement is fluid and complements the controls rather than overpowering them. I spent a whole five minutes just pulling out and putting away my sword because it looked so cool. The only complaint I have about the animations are the dances. I've never seen dances that looked this stupid. I typed /dance once and then never typed it again. I think I'm scarred for life by the dance my toon does.
Armor and weapons have to be the most disappointing aspect of this game. I mean seriously. Here's the break down: All of the weapons and armor in the game are exactly the same. There are no armor or weapon stats. So if you just worked your butt off trying to get that new “Flaming Sword of Monkey Shit” then you'll be disheartened to hear that its no better than the rusty old thing your carrying on your back now. To make up for this acclaim made slots for upgrade stones or whatever they're called. We'll just call them Cocoa Pebbles. So basically you take these Cocoa pebbles and you hammer them on your gauntlets and voila! Your armor/weapon is now slightly better than the guy next to you, but don't let Fred Flinstone see you in his Pebbles. You see what he does to Barney. The pebbles are sorta cool, but they take the fun out of playing. Its hard to stay motivated when you know that you cant have that “+9 Flaming Sword of Monkey Shit” or the “+6 Giant's Boots of Curb Stomping”. Getting new gear is purely for cosmetics and nothing else so you might as well keep the armor you start with.
Fighting and questing in this game can get a bit boring. You don't get as much experience as you think you should from the quests and monsters barely give you anything at all. So leveling will take some time. But even if you like grinding it will get boring in this game. You'll often find yourself saying “What now?”
There's crafting, but why craft when its no better than the rags your wearing??
There's some imaginary stuff in this game called pep and fame. Fame is like experience and you get it as you kill things. Pep is a little different. Can't really compare it to anything. Basically the higher your pep level the stronger you are. But if you die you lose all your pep...I was almost to pep level 1 and I died and had to start over. Needless to say I wasn't exactly thrilled about that.
Classes are...a little different. There's Warrior, Rogue, and Mage and they branch off into sub-classes. For warrior theres Bloodwarrior, Wrathguard, and Adept. Mages have Ancestrals, Void Seer, and Rune Mage. Rogues have Deathhands, the ever-useless Skinshifter, and Tricksters. I wont talk much about any of these except one. The ever-useless Skinshifter. I have never played as a more useless class in my life. I decided to become a Skinshifter because I thought I'd be able to fight as a wolf or a bear or something. Instead I get to change into a wolf...and that's it. I don't get to fight, and I don't get to jump. I can't even howl at the moon. All I can do is run around as a wolf. I do move a bit faster and I run past other monsters unnoticed, but aside from that it's USELESS!
The skills and spells are all well animated and have some cool particle effects to boot! But sadly the game seems a bit off balance. One level 6 player can take on a level 10 monster. A level 5 player can take on an entire mob alone. I guess that's because the game relies more on the players skill rather than his/her/it's button mashing ability.
The community is your typical MMO community. Not exactly spectacular and not horrible either. Its leagues away from WoW's child infested chat boxes. The game does have a surplus of nice people though. Acclaim should have some kind of blow-out sale on nice people.
I'm not going to cover PvP and there's a good reason for it. Honestly I haven't had the chance to do any PvP so reviewing it wouldn't be fair.
The game, back when it was in beta, seemed very promising but it's recent move to free2play makes me a bit skeptical. Apparently they're redoing the game? Or something? I don't know...all I know is that it's free now and who can say no to free.
The game has interesting features and wonderful graphics. It's got its own flavor and is sure to provide you with a unique experience, but with a lack of armor and weapon stats the game falls short in a few areas. If you decide to pick the game up then I'm sure you'll have a good time, but I have to lay down the hammer now. So with all things considered I have to give this one a solid 3 shitting donkeys out of 5. The game is good but it has many many flaws. Not only that, but there's huge breaks in the background music. I'd give it a 4 or a 3.5 but the lack of stats crosses the line and because I cant make half a donkey. The game isn't absolutely terrible, but it's not the best either. Your just going to have to play it for yourself and see how you like it. Just try not to kill too many hoppies...please.
Your friendly neighborhood MMO Reviewer.
MMO's are the ark of the gaming world. Let it take us in new directions.