So here are my impressions of the newly released in the US MMO called The Chronicles of Spellborn. The game was developed by the cleverly titled Dutch developer Spellborn International. The game utilizes the Unreal graphics engine and appears the use version 2 of the engine, which first saw action back in 2002. The title was initially released in the UK on November 27th, 2008 and was released in the US on April 23rd, 2009. You can currently download the game for free and pay a $14.99 monthly fee starting after a two week trial period.
I can’t really call this a full review because I couldn’t bring myself to play the game long enough to get anything other then an impression. This is the type of MMO that immediately punches you in the gut with that sinking feeling of been there done that. The best way to describe the feeling would be to ask you to imagine reading the entire Sunday newspaper from 2 years ago for the 5th time in one sitting. A sane person would have thrown the thing in the trash (or recycling if you prefer) a long time ago. For some reason there are people out there that eagerly rip open the old paper and read until their eyes bleed. When the tutorial dumped me out in front of some motionless NPCs with icons floating above their heads asking me to extinguish some grizzlies to the north I just logged out.
The game basically plays like a cheap version of Wow, which sadly seems to be the norm these days. Once I struggled through the character creation (getting kicked out of the servers once during the proccess) I logged in and was immediately greeted by antiquated visuals and a rather strange tutorial. It basically asks you to walk forward, backward and sideways about 40 times and then gets you to beat up some straw dummies. The only highlight of the game is that the tutorial wasn’t bad once you got out of the initial area. You are flying through some type of outer space area on a “shardship” and beating back monsters being spewed forth from a large winged vomit demon… Ok cool, I think to myself. The game then takes a dramatic dive for the worse. Once the tutorial finished the game goes from battling flying creatures in outer space to dumping you into a small village in a wooded area. I look around and find a few NPCs doing their best imitation of a statue. When I approached them they mumbled something about killing grizzlies and gave me vague directions north of the village.
I just have to say, I’ve played many MMOs during my gaming career, and there are only so many times that I can charge into a field wearing the equivilent of a loincloth and clutching what amounts to a butter knife to battle hordes of bunny rabbits, toads, bear cubs, or piglets. Please… please… please, no more. If you are developing an MMO out there and this is what you have envisioned as the opening experience for your players, just stop, scrap the whole idea, and start over. If you are a current company and wondering why your 5 year development cycled multi-million dollar wonder project is biting the big one, this is why. People simply do not want to do the same things over and over time and time again. They were hooked in a few times since the MMO genre was born but people aren’t buying it any more.
So, to top it all off, the Spellborn website features a special Spellborn music video done by a Dutch clone of Evanescence named “Within Temptation“. Ugg. Oh yeah… the website, almost forgot about that. It is pretty much impossible to find any type of gameplay information on the site, the classes were a mystery to me and still are.
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