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... for a few days on the free trial. Of course I don't know then everything about this game, but still I guess I'm entitled to have my opinion. I tried not to be too biased, to ignore the bad stuff I heard about the game and as well not try to expect less than from another game, but tried to simply play the game and compare what I find with what I expect in general.
Installing and registering
Went fairly smooth. The game was just 1gb to 2gb to download, which went rather quick as well, and is no comparison to monsters like AoC. Registering was easy as well, didn't have to provice any information about possible subscriptions or credit cards or something. The patching though... well, it didn't take long, but I was a bit annoyed that for each single tiny patch the game downloaded and installed, I had to click ok two times. Currently there ain't that many patches so it's bearable, but if there would be more or larger patches, I'd prefer to have the game update itself over night or something, and without me beeing forced to play the babysitter.
Anyway, download, installation and patching didn't take long. Started it up, and at first I was a bit confused to not see an "options" or "settings" button. Like 99% of all games it didn't have the resolution I preferred, so I was a bit startled on where to change that, and found out some minutes later that you can do that ingame.
The good about the character creation: pretty inuitive, and choosing a family makes you want to see more. Families are kind of groups you join, like crafter or explorer (I think there are 5 or such) to have contact to like-minded players.
The bad about the character creation:
The choices are very limited. Two factions, each with one race, and 4 classes. Healer, ranger, soldier and mage. Also choices you have on how to create the looks of your character are very limited. You have the typical skin-color, hair-color, hair-style and face. Sometimes though I didn't see any differences when I clicked on some buttons, I'm not sure why. I'd prefer here simply more stuff to choose from. First from the existing selections (like hair and such) and then some options to change more stuff (character size, body shape, different voices and whatnot).
So, what do you first see when you play a game? The..
First the good: some of the models were pretty interesting and seemed to be based on nice ideas or made me smile. Also the areas I went to gave off a nice atmosphere. Swamps seem swampy, arid areas make me want to grab a drink and forests look foresty.
Now the bad:
The engine is obviously dated. I don't say that to hurt the feeling of Alganon fans or make it look bad or something, but I think everyone can agree to that. Dated in what way? There are no real shadows (neither of the characters, mobs, terrain, clouds or buildings). The water has no reflection and there is no waves or splashing when I walk through. The grass doesn't move, the models have a low polygon count, the textures no good quality, there are no light-rays, no 3D-fog, and there doesn't seem to be much bump-mapping either (effect that give a 2d-surface a look of depth). Anti-aliasing is missing too, so the edges are often pixelated. I'd also have liked the effect from games like WAR, where surfaces get a slightly different brightness depending on the angle you have when looking at them, since that really gives more depths. The spells (those I used so far) had no light-effects (didn't illuminate the caster or the ground) and no particle effects. The animations need work as well (repeating themselves very often and you can see sometimes a glitch where they start, the jumping looks odd as well).
I also didn't like the map very much. It is a bit like a mix between a serious medieval map and a childrens book. IE you take a medieval map, have everything a bit larger and add some color. Also the place where your character is currently at, is marked by a large cross which didn't fit in at all. It looks like a marker in some war-game where artillery is going to strike, and doesn't show the direction you face either.
There seems to be no weather system (at least not in the areas I was in), and the sky doesn't look much like one either. It seemed to be blurry patches of light and dark.
The graphics ain't the worst of MMORPGs out there. Quite some games have graphics of a similiar quality (or lack thereof). But compared to what you could expect, what is possible and what some games offer, you simply don't get enough graphicswise.
The good: I liked the voices. The music was ok, neither that great that I'd want to get the soundtrack right now, but seemed to fit.
The bad: I thought that many of the sound effects didn't quite fit to what you expect. I mean, take a typical hollywood movie for example. When one guy hits another, if the movie would be very realistic you wouldn't hear much. It just doesn't make much if one guy hits the other in the stomach. We expect though to hear a deep loud hit, and that is what Hollywood gives us. It's not realistic but what we expect and we are happy. Alganon does neither seem to be realistic nor give me what I expect. Granted, maybe when I hear what I expect I don't pay much attention because it's nothing special, so I pay more attention to effects I think of not fitting than to those that actually fit. But still... it just didn't seem right a lot of the time.
Also, as a minor thing: It seems kinda random when one sound cuts off the other or they are played on top. Like when I tried to pick up an object out of range, and clicked several times, my character blurted out several times on top of himself that this doesnt work. I'd prefer in that moment to have the char simply say the sentence once, and maybe repeat it afterwards if I keep beeing stupid. At other times, like when I deliver several quests quickly, the sound of quest-turning-in is cut off and played again. In that moment I'd prefer it to be played several times at once so I can hear my glory of having completed so many quests. ^^
The good: easy to understand, action starts right away. I like it that when loot except for the vendortrash drops (like if a weapon drops or something), a chest appears, so you won't miss it. The offline-studying system is interesting but a bit confusing at first. The battles are fast. I dislike it when early on you need several minutes to kill a single opponent, since I then get the feeling of throwing with cottonballs instead of spells or fondling the opponent instead of striking him with my mighty weapons.
The bad: The world seems to be really static. Nearly all NPCs stand around on one spot like statues, most mobs are confined to small zones where they stroll around, so it feels a bit like beeing in a zoo with invisible cages. The game allows you to track several quests at once, which is nice, but you can have the minimap show only in the direction of one of those quests you track. Also I'd prefer to see some boxes to select if a quest is tracked instead of having to press shift. The icons on the mini-map are depending on the area hard to see (ie a faint yellow circle on yellow-brown ground, or a grey-brown tombstone on a yellow-grey ground). It's also a bit hard to see whom you actually target. You see of course the targets "face" next to your own, but if there is half a dozen of enemies around with that face then you can only see it by a circle around the enemies feet. And if those feet are in swampy water or within another object or a small hole or something you don't see it at all.
Also the camera is a bit annoying. I personally like to switch off any automatic system a camera might have to look at the character from any angle at any time. But in Alganon no matter what setting I used the camera kept turning back to its standard position. Also the game uses very often the same icons which is a bit confusing as well.
The talent points are a bit confusing. You can assign them when you start your character, which is a bit confusing since you don't know what skills are good or bad, which you will use a lot, and you don't even have many of the skills you could improve by talent points. Also I had to guess what I had to do to reach higher talents (I didn't know if I'd just have to level up or invest a certain amount of points in the same tree or in talent trees in general). There were neither information on my attributes and such when clicking on them or hovering my mouse over them in the character screen.
The combat is a bit simple. Like, when I started with my healer I had two attacks: auto-melee and auto-shoot (wand). So I selected an enemy, pressed "shoot", and then had to do nothing until the battle is over. I know this is probably gonna change later when I level up and have more skills and the opponents have more skills as well, but two-button combat (select, auto-shoot) is a bit very easy. Especially since I was about invicible in the game. The only opponents that were a bit of a challenge were those designed for three people.
The good: I guess people who play a game like Alganon with a not-so-good reputation are pretty mature, since they don't care about the opinions and just play what they enjoy. Which is supposed to be a plus.
The bad: The maximum I saw when typing /who was three other players, and only twice I see another player actually next to me. Most of the time I was completly alone, even when typing /who. And when there were people they didn't reply, greet back or react to me.
Starts early which is nice, I didn't do too much with it so far though so I can't say a lot about it.
There are bugs in Alganon as they are in all MMORPGs. Some of them don't matter at all (ie spelling errors), some are a bit annoying but not much more (loot bugs, npcs dying within objects so it's a bit difficult to loot them, or standing in front of a graphical glitch that is a wall). But one bug was really annoying. Every 15 to 30mins would the whole game freeze for a moment. Normally after one or two minutes it would continue (with me sometimes beeing dead) or it would freeze completly and I'd have to close and restart it.
Alganon is not a bad game by itself. I think the graphics are what kills a lot of the mood and scares players away quickly. Of course graphics ain't always the most important thing (see AoC). But still: if you play a game where every now and then you gaze at the beautiufil scenery, then you want to play the game more, than if it all looks dated. Alganons graphics ain't all bad, the effect when casting fire spells for example look fine. But all in all the graphics are what I think stops people from trying the game. When people look at screenshots they see only the graphics, and when they think "man that looks great" they are more willing to give the game a try than when they think "meh...".
Alganon seems to be a fine game for the casual player. For people who don't try to be always up to date on the newest games, be in the most hyped betas and play what is currently "cool". Just people who want to play a comfy convenient MMORPG where you don't have to gather tons of information to avoid screwing up your char or whatnot.
Another problem seems to be the small usercount, which is a kind of vicious circle. If you join a game and a lot of people play it, you get the feeling of beeing part of something big. That it must be great if that many people do it. If you join a game and 90% of the time you are alone, then there doesn't seem to be much "multiplayer" in the MMORPG. I guess it's mostly on the trial server that way, and when you join a guild on a full account and such, things can be different. But that doesn't change the impression new players get.
Still, Alganon trial is quickly downloaded and installed, so giving it a try can't hurt. ^^
Edit: I also think it's a mistake to have the trial and the full account users completly seperate. When you see full account people paying for the game and enjoying it, then it's something different from having the feeling of beeing the only player.