Personally, I approach browser-based gaming the same way I do broccoli. I know that it is wholesome and good, but it doesn't beat a good ole' greasy hamburger. Likewise with MMORPGs proclaiming Google Chrome as their home, I find it difficult to tear away my allegiances from those client-running, $60 cellophane box wearing, good-time girls like World of Warcraft.
It seems archaic, and call me a big old stick in the mud, but I generally prefer my web browser for news-related items, social networking - and materials that we won't discuss in these PG-friendly environs. What about my lovely, lovely gaming rig built purposely for power sapping software? Can browsers do gaming? Is it natural?
Yes, yes it can and yes, yes it is. Games such as RuneScape have been providing the evidence for the past decade. Now Johnny-come-lately developers are also opting for a slice of that particular pie, and The Lost Titans is the latest stomping towards release.
At first glance, this MMO doesn't appear to be the type of game that would run on Internet Explorer power alone. It curves in all the right places, it's colourful - and it even it looks a bit like Torchlight. ZQGames have managed to pull off a magnificent coup in the visual department; rather than lacking in eye candy, it excels.
It's a surprising turn of events, in that my last hoorah with browser-gaming was the aforementioned RuneScape, which while an excellent game, is only slowly starting to get a handle on graphical smarts, and other flash titles such as Heliattack 2 (yeah I'm oldschool. Deal).
I expected TLT to be a mixture of blocky sprites mingled in with basic textures. This couldn't be further from the truth. From the moment you select a character (warrior, ranger, and mage classes present) the experience is vivid and rich with colour. You even get to ride a dragon.
The core experience itself is largely familiar to anyone with a standing subscription. Levels are gained, coins spent, and skills upgraded. Throw in a titan or two, and some PvP and we have ZQGames' particularly take on the genre.
Where TLT differs from the competition is its focus on more casual mechanics, and a focus storyline. Quests will usher you literally from one section to another, meaning that within the first 10 levels, if you don't blink at each stage, you will in fact miss them.
The story itself is doled out in the usual text scrolls, this time complete with talking head. It isn't spectacular, but it gets the job done, and if you're in the mood for TLT's particular brand of Titan-based drama, then you're in for a treat.
So while TLT is a magnificent looking product, given its limitations, certain caveats are also thrown up. While a self-confessed MMORPG, this online adventure errs towards the side of traditional grinder F2P than anything EverQuest shaped.
Longevity doesn't seem like a core focus, and while it is undoubtedly enjoyable, there's a very real element of auto-drive to everything. Clicking a quest description will actually steer your character towards whatever goal: whether this is an NPC or an enemy that must be slaughtered. While it's a nice touch for those that enjoy gaming as reductively as possible (I'm looking at those people sat in their pants, looking for ways to free up a "Dorito Hand") for anybody else it seems like a loss of depth.
Furthermore, TLT seems more like an introductory experience than a fully blown adventurer. Quests are bite-sized and there's little or no thought towards innovation or carving out its own niche. Everything here is more or less what you might come to expect from other, likewise, games just presented differently and coded into a browser - which in itself is an achievement.
But taken purely as an MMORPG which can be played on the go provided you have an Internet connection and some form of working PC or laptop, TLT is great fun, even in beta stage. It might not blow off your hat or world wearied "Cloak of +2 Seen it All" but it is a fun distraction from the major players on the market.
Neat, nicely presented, and essentially fun, The Lost Titans should be hailed as an achievement for browser-gaming if nothing else. If you're in the mood for a grinder with a nice helping of story, this one might just make it to your play-list.