I have a pretty girlfriend, that’s beside the point. When we go places together it’s interesting to see people’s reactions. First off, I have been called handsome, but I’m nowhere near a pretty boy. I am a large, bald, tattooed and angry looking New Yorker. My lady on the other hand is the upbeat, attractive person that makes people smile; I am the one that scares the guys away. However, in certain instances my intimidating looks come in handy, and others her bright smile and big brown eyes wins people over. The point I am trying to make is that everyone responds to different visual images differently.
This brings me to Aion’s strongest point, the graphics. More importantly, the character creation, which is the most creative I’ve ever experienced in an MMO. I participated in Closed Beta 1 and just tonight finishing up closed beta 2, I leveled an Asmodian (darker race) to 11 and was suddenly bored. I am a hardcore leveler, and was forced to stop just when my character just got interesting. So I decided to mess around with the character creation tool. Another thing about me, I have a soft spot for goblins, yes, goblins. So… I made some … goblins.
She just wasn't into me.
I was very happy with the results, yes he’s tiny and packs quite a punch. So I leveled him to 11 as well; fun, fun, fun. I watched a few people stop and check me out, even got a few LOL’s and a few complimentary whispers. It’s funny how people will react to something visually, other players were happy with my goblin. So, I made more…
I couldn’t make a green one as Elyos (light side) but I was able to make a red one. I didn’t have the time to level him to 11 as well, but I did see people stop and look in the starter zone. I was onto something!
Let’s touch on the mechanics of Aion, I’ll just say it is superior to most games just considering the flight aspect and a great combo system that they have in place. It is what Age of Conan wanted to do, but couldn’t quite nail it. NCSoft did, and quite well. Along with certain movements it feels almost like Streetfighter except I don’t have to make those moves, it just helps certain chances of hits, blocks and dodges. No longer is it just mashy-button til death mode, this time I really have to react. So far, I was impressed.
Visually, the game is head and shoulders above almost all of the mmorpgs on the market. The game actually feels “alive”, I had spiders coming out of trees, huge birds in the skyline and the water effects almost look real. Aion, is very clean and very “pretty”, most mob designs contain over 3-4 different colors, the backdrop is georgous and the human realism in character design is stunning, unlike WoW. Also the transparent minimap is a plus to have as well.
Left: Me, and yeah...not my girlfriend but a good rendering of Eva.
WoW, does suffer from too cartoony, exaggerated graphics, but it has that gritty masculine quality that most macho players (like me) respond to. However, content wise…my vote goes to World of Warcraft. Aion has the same addictive feel to it but doesn’t pack the lore punch that WoW does. Face it, many people already knew the WoW story from the original Warcraft series, and Blizzard did a bang-up job bringing it to a massive scale.
Aion, unfortunately is lacking that punch, the lore is basically good vs. evil angels. Paradise Lost, Dante’s Inferno and even The Prophecy; stories have been written and re-written about the classic tale of the heavenly Chosen Ones and The Fallen. Been there, done that. I read a lot of the quests and wasn’t too enthralled on what I was reading, plus the dialog is really small so it was hard to read a lot of the material. The cut scenes are nice and give quick visual details on the plot of the quest you are on, especially the Ascension quest. Very cool.
In closing: I like the game, but I am not knocked over by it. I’ve done the same thing in WoW ,FFXI and Runes of Magic, level up to the end, grind for the best gear and kill other players. Again, been there, done that and I have the T-Shirt. My advice to my readers, If you are done with WoW, totally finished, burnt out and kaput, and don’t mind repeating the same steps; or if you are playing an older MMO and need something new and flashy (a pretty new girlfiend). Then Aion is a very visually pleasing game, and one worth trying out. If you are ‘tweening games ™ or a story driven immersion player like Beau Turkey, then I would recommend you to "play the field" and keep an eye out for other titles that are on the horizons.
I have a a gut feeling that Champions Online is going to be a big sleeper hit this fall.