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Life in the Digital Fast-Lane

A mixture of reviews, rants and hypes of things I've come across during my time with the computer. :)

Author: RelCenturica

Reminiscing Star Wars Galaxies Pre-CU

Posted by RelCenturica Tuesday April 29 2008 at 11:05AM
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Reminiscing Star Wars Galaxies Pre-CU

After my First Impression review on Age of Armor, I find myself unsatisfied with the games on the market. I went to World of Warcraft, trialed it, quit it again. Guild Wars, can't even bring myself to play past Level 5. City of Heroes/Villians, it got old faster than the last time I got back to it.

I even tried some more free games. Exteel, Dungeon Runners, Perfect World... they just don't have that "quality" that keeps me playing.

Then, as I uninstalled all these games which I will not touch ever again, I suddenly started thinking of a game I've played a long, long time ago... which felt like home to me. Star Wars Galaxies.

I just moved to Perth at the time the game was released. It took me a few months to get the retail box as it kept selling out everywhere I went. At the college I was attending, I happen to have the fortune to meet a new friend who was fortunate enough to get the box at launch.

I loaded up my installation of SWG, paid for my subscription, and logged into a world unknown.

After creating my online persona, I met my friend in the city of Theed with a few of his other friends. They welcomed me to the game and invited me to their guild, and escorted me to the city they founded. We had no vehicles then, we had to leg it. Dodging agro mobs across grass and rivers was the first ever adventure for me.

A few weeks into the game, I start to get a feel for the scope of the game. I was grinding up the Teras Kasi Artist tree, while doing some medic work to build my template. Missions were interesting as there were so many people to play with. We would go on huge hunting groups and come back to a handsome credit payout. Then in the middle of the hunt, someone would throw up a camp for us to rest. We'd sit, talk and watch entertainers do their thing.

Then after reaching Master, I started a new persona to try out crafting. I looked at the profession list and was dumbfounded at the amount of professions for crafting. I took Tailor as it seemed interesting at the time. Calculating cost of maintaining harvesters, factories and shops, taking the time to talk to people about how they wanted their threads, even supplying a load of uniforms and custom ordered formal wears for a wedding function... it was just a really good time.

Thinking back to what Pre-CU was like really made me WANT it back. But it is obvious the powers-that-be will never reinstate the great game. Whats left is to hope and pray that the group of people trying to bring back a certain state of a certain game back to the community that yearns for it, pull through.

(Yes, this is pretty much a rant entry. For some reason, I just couldn't stop thinking of what I've done, acoomplished and socialized with back in the day. Seeing all these other MMOs in the market and their features just don't appeal to me anymore, even the new upcoming ones. I fear SWG Pre-CU was that good.)

First Impressions - Age of Armor

Posted by RelCenturica Wednesday April 2 2008 at 12:59AM
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First Impressions - "Age of Armor"


As MMORPG.com put up on its main site offering a contest for 20 VIP account codes that offer a range of items to its winners, I launched up the Age of Armor website, registered myself an account and started downloading the client.

The website itself is pretty informative. You have your standard nav bars, directions to register, download links, game information pages. But as I browsed through these pages waiting for the client to finish its download, I hit a few snags in their website structure.

Certain links load up a white page with big black words saying, "Sorry, the official site is under maintaining?Please try later! Back to homepage ". I get most of this when trying to browse through the different mechs of the different races. However, if I go back to the Database main page and try again from there, the page loads without a hitch. So I'm guessing the webmaster has a bit of work to do since I don't see any PHP or whatnot, and it seems its just linking from one html page to another.

Anyway, my download completes, the installation goes on without problems and after a short update download, its in.

Interface:

Considering that this is a free to play game, I expected a lousy laggy UI with everything placed in spaces they shouldn't be. Brings back bitter past experiences from previous F2P games I've braved with. But boy was I wrong.

The interface itself is simple. Not over-complicated, doesn't overcrowd the screen too much, and has a familiar WoW feeling to it. Everything's in places where it would be easy to get information from (radar, ammo counts, vital signs, etc).

The controls are also much smoother than most F2P games. It has what I like to call "True Mouselook" which is the same as those like in World of Warcraft or Guild Wars. Not the crappy Mouselook where when you right or left click and drag to change the view, the cursor remains visible and you can even drag it off your screen. This makes you release the mouse, slide it somewhere to get more drag space, and drag again. Can you feel that frustration now? (If you don't know what I'm talking about, try and play CABAL Online.)

One thing I'll bash at the interface though, is the way it display item properties. Who on Earth, with the exception of the game devs and company employees maybe, knows what "Attack Interval 4000" means? 4 seconds per shot? 4 minutes? Using a stopwatch, I found out it was of the former. But wouldn't "Attack Interval 4.0 sec" work just the same and be understandable to a wider range of people?

There are other property namings that vex me to no end. "Atk. Int." is another one, which I roughly translate to "Attack Intensity". Basicly the larger this number, the more damage per hit you do. My newbie particle weapon has a number of 74. Then I pick up a missile launcher that has a number of 1. My first thought was, "This is a crap junk launcher." But it turns out that this is the norm for most newbie missile launchers. I believe they could standardize attack power ratings, and make it just that much easier to understand?

Last but not least, as with all korea/china/middle-upper-hemisphere game, the English in this game blows! With the economic boom in that region, I would thought they would be able to hire a decent translator to help with their content. But nooo. I get quest texts that seem so like walls of text, incorrect grammar and spellings all over the place. Which results in me skipping entire pages of quest text, getting to the objectives, and bailing out of there.

Combat:

This game is about fighting in futuristic mechs against a myriad of opponents. So firstly, you got to have a mech!

You get one given to you from the first time you log in. And the tutorial actually guides you to the NPC you need to meet in order for you to change or upgrade your battle mech. The "armor assembly" interface is fairly self-explanatory, but if you're new, it'll take some mousing over icons to make out how it all works.

Now the actual combat. What I don't get from tutorial to hitting the first map is what does "Locking" actually do, besides show the weaknesses of a target? I find myself literally ignoring locking onto targets, since just targeting them allows me to start shooting at them. Not to mention that the locking system has a certain range, you may be able to see the target, but may not be able to lock it. And that your weapon might have a range longer than that, so we might as well forget about the whole locking thing and start shooting.

Combat in itself is much more fluid than other F2P games. Its a standard WoW type button mash to shoot guns and launch missiles. Its a tried and proven system, and boring! In no time you find yourself grinding on mobs just to get somewhere, then grind somemore to get somewhere further.

As fluid as combat may be, the system still has a few chinks in it. Sometimes when running with a target in sight, hitting the "Fire Guns" button makes my mech launch missiles instead. And sometimes hitting the "Slide" (faster movement) key, makes my mech shoot at a target I might not want to have shot.

And there is one funny thing when fighting melee mobs. They can't touch you. I find a "boss" thats a little higher level than me and thought I'd try it, to find that it always trys to approach me to swing its melee weapon. So I kite the bastard, and took down a "boss" that was 4 levels above me. It wasn't difficult either, I just kept the "Walk Backwards" key held down while I shoot it. And it'll keep trying to get closer, lose range to my mech before swinging, and inch closer again. That said, anyone can solo a melee wuss- err... "boss", regardless of its level.

Sounds:

The music is repetitive. There is nothing more I can say to that. Just turn it off and launch up your favourite mp3 playlist.

Sound FX for the guns and missiles are... soft. I expected a little bass from missile explosions at least, but all I ever heard was "Whooshhh....". It does make the battlefield some sort of arcade cartoon than a real futuristic battlefield. And I'm using in-ear earphones.

Conclusion:

If I were to sum this game's first impression in one sentance, it'll be one I've used for many other F2P games. "Its a grindfest. Leave it before you get to Level 2000 and look back at how you've wasted your time."

I know there are many who say F2P games are not meant to be innovative, or even good. Since they are free, we should be glad we could even play it. However, seeing as they do make a profit out of item sales, I disagree with such sentiments. I'm hoping for one day a F2P modelled game be on par with P2P games that introduce advanced stuff like Housing, deep crafting systems, player-driven economies, etc. But I would settle for just Proper English.

I rate "Age of Armor" with the following based on my first impression:

Graphics 3/5
Sounds 1/5
Gameplay 3/5
Overall Experience 2/5