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Zombie - Dead but still moving.
8/22/12 2:07:17 AM#1
For a project I'm working on, I needed Internet where there was none and ended up with an 4G (android) on AT&T so I could tether my laptop. I'm way behind on smart phones so this was a cool opportunity to bring me up from the dark ages.
As a coder I'm fascinated with the potential of the phone and found my way into Pocket Legends. I have to say I'm suprised with the game.
My impressions from a couple days playing...
On the tech side, it's about on par with Quake 1. Environments and characters are ultra low poly, texures are low-res, but the animation and overall presentation is professional. Art style is cartoonish with a grade school look and feel. Visual effects are impressive given the environment it runs in.
Client, I'm guessing, is full Java. It runs on my droid and laptop using Chrome but no other browser. Rendering looks to be done in software.
Servers are the same for both clients so it's phone and computer users in the same world. It appears to be one world for all players with no server realms, at least none that I've encountered.
The world is zone based. Zones are quite small, I'd guess about 1/16th the size of normal (only a few hundred meters in either direction). I'm not sure if zones have sharding. I didn't see any indication of it. (the world is sharded, dungeons are public instanced with a 5 character cap)
Gameplay is near fully automatic. Run up to a mob, hit attack, and button mash skills as they cool down. Looting is full auto also, with drops going directly into a characters inventory.
UI on the phone is flat-out difficult. There's a virtual joystick that I found useless for doing anything other than running in circles. Tap to move is the other option, and it works well enough. The problem with tap to move is that trying to hit the buttons is difficult, so it's easy to fat finger the UI and trigger a move by accident. Typical MMORPG style gameplay where people roll through multiple chat channels doesn't seem to be possible. In fact, I don't think I've even found how to chat other than 4 configurable emotes.
UI on the PC works pretty much like a normal MMORPG. ASDW to move, mouse to steer, mouse click a button to auto attack, and mouse click skills. I'm not sure if there are hotkey bindings. With click to move, the keyboard could be skipped completely.
Questing and dungeon runs are integrated. Enter a dungeon and it looks to me like everyone in the dungeon is autogrouped including sharing loot and XP. World layout and progression isn't obvious. The UI tells you when you need to go to a dungeon or back to town, and getting there is fast-travel.
Overall the translation of MMORPG to phone works far better than what I'd have expected. The UI could be better given the small size of the phone display. I'd imagine it would play fairly well on a tablet (There's a Nexus 7 in my future, and I'm looking forward to trying the game out with a larger touch screen).
My first impression scores: (1 to 4)
Technical / Engineering: 4 stars - It's small and it works. Kudos to the developer for pulling that off.
Gameplay: 3 stars - A bit clunky but it's easily playable. Not a train wreck that one might expect. I find it reasonably entertaining as well.
Game Design: 3 stars - The zones feel cramped and the world disconnected with all the zoning. However, most of the game is pretty intuitive.
Overall: 3.5 stars - A quest-grinder one can play for free on a phone, and MMORPG gameplay that's sort-of full featured in terms of PVE. Consider me impressed. Frankly I wouldn't have thought it possible.
I'm up to level 28 and something surprising changed in terms of game mechanics. Up to now, completely clearing a dungeon was possible because mobs would stay dead. In the last couple dungeons I've run, this has changed and trash mobs in the hallways are respawning. This puts a huge pressure on the group to kill fast and keep moving otherwise it's impossible to clear a room with the respawns popping up so quickly.