I want to share with everyone a game that's kept me captivated for more than a year now now. Set in Gaia's own world, zOMG! offers realtime gameplay with a traditional MMORPG experience and anime-inspired art much like its host site, Gaia. Featuring a very flexible class system, crafting, buddies, powerups, badges, dungeons and a well written and humorous presentation, zOMG! has been a sleeper hit that few know but everyone must play.
Easily, the favourite part among most players, zOMG! boasts some astounding yet cheerfully colorful models and environments. The models are all 3d generated although the world itself is played from a 2d perspective hence the title of 2.5d mmorpg. The game's sound and music are as good as its visuals, with music that beautiful matches the area you're in and various musical scores to highlight events taking place in the game. Sound effects in battle, both produced by you and the animated are well done and soothing to the ears even though there is no voice acting present in the game.
The user interface is just as flexible as the game's class system with features like chat panels, playing window, map, inventory and crew panels all appearing in resizable windows that can be moved around anywhere on screen. Even the playing screen can be resized to take advantage of wide screen resolutions which is a beautiful improvement over the fixed aspect ratios of most other MMOs. Also, due to the game's simple mechanics, the user interface saves itself from being too clutered with only the information you need to know available on screen. However, lacking a proper tutorial, the game may leave new players scratching hteir heads over many of the other UI features that haven't been explained. Fortunately, there is a detailed help menu that lets you understand most of the game's features.
There is a lot to do in zOMG! You'll either be unravelling the story of zOMG! through completing quests or banding together with other players to tackle dungeons or even just farming animated to gather drops to craft items. For the most part, the game can be played solo but the game does encourage teaming up with others by offering greater challenges and rewards for doing so. zOMG! at it's heart is a rather conventional MMO with a fairly linear storyline that leads you to newer areas fraught with ever increasing dangers.
Combat is real-time with both you and the animated monsters having cooldown timers for each of your attacks and other actions. zOMG! has no fixed class system. Rather, you equip yourself with rings that represent abilities such as attacking, healing and buffs. This system is ingenious because changing your class is as simple as a quick trip to the null chamber. So for example, adding more healing rings makes you a healer, adding more attack rings makes you a damage dealer and adding more defensive and stat boosting rings make you a tank. Sadly though, despite the combat system's sheer versatality, the game supports no pvp which removes an entire dimension of gameplay from zOMG!. pvp is pretty much a staple of most MMOs that one simply cannot ignore.
Apart from its flexible class sytem, zOMG!'s other great areas of innovations are its presentation and design. Gaiaonline has taken traditional environments and added their own unique spin to the design to create a familiar and yet unique feel to each area you visit. zOMG!'s many contrasting areas and use of rich 3D models show the ingenuity of the developers that crafted this wondrous game.
The features of the game however are more resemblant of traditional MMOs which players may find generic. The quests themselves are simple tasks such as collecting items or killing monsters and perhaps more entertaining scouting quests which introduce you to a whole range of odd-ball characters and quirky situations. The problem is that quests tend to get repetitive and completing certain quests takes a long time and requires teaming up with others and help isn't always easily available. This together with a lack of a proper tutorial can lead to frustrations for newer players.
zOMG! is a browser based game developed entirely in flash. you'll need Flash9 to run this game which you should already be having by this point. zOMG! also has no downloadable content which means it runs entirely in your browser. The downside of this is that you need a good connection to run this game smoothly; A broadband one at least. In spite of having a fast connection, you may still run into lag depending on server load and other causes.
Luckily, Gaiaonline has a script that automatically refreshes the servers twice per week with an added server on weekends. The game also has a host of glitches and bugs that can ground you to a halt if you're unlucky enough to encounter them. Gaiaonline has however assured the community that it is working on those bugs and since then, bugs have been rectified, litle by little.
Even if you're done playing the main quest, there is still so much more to do in zOMG! Simply gathering all the recipies and crafting all the items can take months. You may also seek out all the badges in the game for either discovering hidden areas or for killing animated monsters a certain number of times or completing various other objectives.
zOMG! isn't merely a game though and is part of the Gaia community at large. So the currency earned in-game can also be used to buy just about anything from Gaia such as items to adorn your avatar, fishes for your aquarium, furniture for your house etc. Basically, the lifespan of the game lasts as long as you want it to depending on how attached to the game and main site you are.
Easily zOMG!'s greatest strength is it's community. The key to enjoying zOMG! on an everlasting scale is to play it with friends. Not only are the rewards greater this way, but the fun had socializing with one another adds new life to the game every time you play it. The community is always bustling with activity. There's always something going on whether it's parties, contests, marriages etc etc.
As mentioned earlier. zOMG! isn't merely a stand alone game but a part of GaiaOnline which is a virtual world in itself. As such, the socializing doesn't happen only in-game. You'll find yourself communing with friends outside the game through the forums, chat, profiles and also while playing other games and interacting together on other flash spaces.
zOMG! is so deeply ingrained in the gaia universe and vice-versa, you'll find the badges you earned in-game displayed on your Gaia profile. Quest info can even be found outside the game on your Gaia account. The gold and other items earned in-game are also reflected on the main site and can be used to buy and sell goods. Similarly, Gaia's shops, NPCs and other flash games are present within zOMG! as links which just makes the game such an indispensible part of Gaia and its community.
The game is entirely free. It doesn't get any better than that. You are only restricted in the game based on your level which is for your own good as higher level areas means tougher animated monsters that you wouldn't have a chance against.
If you do however find the game too difficult to handle, there are items you can purchase with real money to help smoothen things a bit. The last area in zOMG! especially is far too tough to complete without these items called powerups. All in all, it's up to the user to decide whether they want to use them or not and there is no compulsion to do so.
On the face of it, zOMG! is your typical MMO with no real innovations to set it apart from the crowd, but it's only once you start playing the game, you realize how the game has a life of its own. zOMG! pretty much throws you into the action right from the get-go. It's brilliant presentation and real-time control sucks you right in. You know this is a game that will keep you hooked for the entire journey.
Although Gaiaonline has stopped actively developing zOMG!, the game still has an active community that you can jump right into. The key to having a thoroughly rewarding playing experience on zOMG! is to not just explore the game itself but to explore the world of Gaia at large.
For this reason alone, zOMG! is definitely worth a try. Whether it occupies you only for a couple of days or many months at a time, it still entertaines all the way through.
What do you think of zOMG!? Let us know in the comments below!
| Bustling and friendly community
Flexible class system
Rich, gorgeous art style
Thorough integration with the main site
| Lag and glitches are quite common
No true innovations as an mmo
Inconsistent support for the game