Hello Again Everybody.
This month amongst other things I have mostly been playing Zentia..........What other things do I here you ask?. Well, none of your business.......Oh don't look at me like that!. You know, the usual stuff. Working, eating, sleeping, going to the toilet, eating cheese, getting drunk and finding myself upside down in various strange locals, drinking tea, stopping the Earth being invaded by aliens and teaching Dolphins to talk.
Anyway, not to digress to much but for this entry I wanted to talk about Zentia. Usually and with a few notable exceptions I have one feeling about the Asian free to play market and that feeling is DIE!. So I do not know what posed me to give Zentia a try in the first place. It may have been the advertising on this very site and the epic Prawn v's Squid battle from the main sites intro video. http://z.us.changyou.com/. The comedy value in that was enough to peek my interest. Heavens knows it certainly wasn't the graphics, as you can see from the linked video they look at first glance like they have designed by the drunk baby I wrote about in last months Blog, The afore mentioned baby of course having lost the use of both arms and chubby legs due his drink problem.
So after scoring a closed beta key from Massively I was ready to download and give it a whirl. Normally when I get ready to play a free to play game for the first time I am preparing myself for three things
1 - To uninstall three or possibly four seconds after logging in.
2- To vomit all over my expensive monitor.
3 - To feel so soiled with myself I usually develop mild agoraphobia and can't leave the house for a few weeks.
So when the log in screen came up with the standard Chinese picture of a guy on a cloud (standard if you have ever played any of Perfect worlds games) my hopes were not high. I was greeted by the character create screen and that was not at all standard. The toons on offer are a set bunch and you have no customization options. But this is presented in such a colorful way I was bamboozled enough not to let it bother me, what with all the character models hanging around a busy street scene and looking like they are having a great time. I ended up going with a little fellow that looks like a two year old...probably because I still had drunk babies on my mind. The classes on offer are different to say the least but if you are a fan of Asian Horror or Anime you will feel instantly at home with them. I like classes that summon and classes that use swords so the Master Summoner class had everything I wanted. And so my mighty toon was born. Two years old...the latent magic ability of a god.....the fine motor skills of a frog on amphetamines! His name......Was Spoons!
So after a brief but to the point tutorial I was in the starting area and ready to do some quests and see what this game was made of. My initial impressions where that the controls and camera movement felt very clunky and counter-intuitive and this game has a very subtle and tongue in cheek sense of humor. I think it was the sense of humor that kept me playing through the initial quests. Also that my initial gripes about the graphics were not warranted. They are standard fair to be sure and dated, but also colorful and suit the mood of the game very well. You spend a lot of time in the same areas but at no point did I feel the game world was small or restrictive like it does to me in games like Warhammer or Age of Connan. This is clearly a game aimed at the younger audience but it definitely does have elements that would appeal to all ages. A lot of the humor and the many and varied film references would be lost on the younger players. You are given your first pet and mount very quickly, and indeed the pet system is a large part of the game. Capturing pets is a separate skill that has to be leveled like any mmorpg crafting skill. Almost any mob in the game is tameable and all have different buffs that affect the player. Finding the right pet and choosing it's skill selection is a fun task in its self. Mounts are also tameable but a bit trickier to get hold of but there are different ones that complement specific classes and can be trained and leveled just like pets. Bears for example can seat two players, have taunts and the ability to slap mobs around. Rock Crabs are ideal for casters as you can cast while mounted and train skills that will augment your magic abilities.
There are plenty of other things to do apart from the standard. Random events, daily events and quests, collections and mini games and even afk dancing that gives you experience. So what does this game have over its free to play competition? The truthful answer would be....Not much, and I do have a few reservations. At this time the item shop is not available but we will be testing that for the first time at the weekend. At this point we do not know if the shop will cause any imbalances or to what extent crafting mats will be tied to it. However I have to say that this game does have one and very large factor going for it. It's really really good fun. I do not think I can put my finger on exactly why, I think it's a combination of a few different elements. Its sense of humor and the fact that it takes its self in a very light hearted way is very refreshing. There are plenty of things to do and the game world, while not the prettiest you will ever see is colorful and engaging. I find it to be very addictive as well. There is always just one thing you want to do before logging and that I find is a much sort after element in an mmorpg. The game will be heading into open beta very soon and I recommend having a look at it for yourself. It really wont be to everybodies taste but I definitely feel there will be a market for it. I don't think Zentia will be my main game of choice but I certainly do not feel the urge to uninstall it or indeed vomit of my monitor. I think like my other free to play favorites Dungeons and Dragons Online and Earth Eternal it may be a game I can come back to again and again. I am reserving final judgement until I see what happens with the cash shop. If it ends up not being a game breaker then I can actually envisage spending some money on it, and that is the highest praise I can give to a free to play title.
So to other matters, I have finally got my key through for the Lord Of The Rings Online free to play Beta. (Thanks mmorpg.com and Turbine) So now that the NDA has been lifted I hope in my next entry to provide some thoughts and feedback on that. Lord Of The Rings Online is my favorite current mmo bar none so I have mixed feelings about the possibility of seeing the changes to the game first hand. Anyway, as for you. Thank you very much for reading and hope to see you again next month.
Stay out of trouble kids ok! :)