After pulling the plug on their sci-fi title Tabula Rasa, NCSoft is refocusing and getting back into the game. We already know that NCSoft can deliver a triple A fantasy based MMO title. The question on everyone's mind is: Will AION be fresh and new or will it merely be a Lineage II clone?
If all it took was stunning graphics, a continuous and in-depth quest based story line, and involved large scale player versus combat then AION just might fill the role of being heralded as Lineage III. However, AION delivers so much more. It takes those elements we love in games and makes them better. No, it does more than that. AION spreads its wings and soars to new heights.
Being a dedicated Lineage II player for several years, the one aspect that bothered me the most was the lack of character customization options. For a game offering such an in-depth storyline, it seemed contradictory to doom its players to one of six general appearances.
In direct contrast, AION offers so many options at the creation screen; you'd be hard pressed to find another game that enables players to create a truly unique character. Not only can you alter details such as hip width and select from over 35 different hair styles, but you can actually create a character that resembles a dwarf, elf or even a pixie! In AION, it is almost guaranteed that you will never come across another character that looks exactly like yours.
Unlike Lineage 2, AION provides a relatively safe and conflict-free environment for its players to enjoy. Well, that is...until you hit the Abyss. Not only will the Abyss offer quests ad PvE game play, but this area provides the stage for all large scale player-versus-player battle. As Elyos and Asmodian players battle for domination, ownership of strategic control points is sought. Scattered about the Abyss, these successfully captured control points grant their owners bonuses which help conquer keeps and build defenses. A feature somewhat familiar to Warhammer Online players, the taking of control points will add strategy when engaging in massive player-versus-player combat.
The most talked about feature AION has incorporated into the game is flight. While Linage II introduced flight through the creation of a new race, the Kamael, players found this skill to be very restrictive. Not only was this skill exclusively available to Kamael, but the transformation skill was granted to players at a very high level.
Every player in AION, regardless of class, obtains the ability to fly at level ten. With set timers, players must strategically plan destination routes and actions in flight. Failure to plan ahead can mean a player falling to their death.
While the ability to fly is restricted to certain areas, players can glide in any area they wish. No more epic quests or spending huge amounts of money to purchase a mount. In order to get around fairly quickly, all you need is some great terrain and a little practice. You will be gliding from area to area in no time.
The seamless way flight is interwoven into the game offers a truly unique player experience. Aerial battle, gathering crafting materials suspended high above the ground, and quest objectives perched in areas inaccessible by foot, all mean that players, regardless of play style or objective, will find flight not only useful...but necessary.
Just when you thought AION couldn't pack more into the player experience, it also offers something else to consider: the "E" in the PvPvE warfare promised by AION's creators. The Balaur, demons who reside in the Abyss, stand guard to their territory. If rumors are correct, these NPC characters can be swayed to side with either Elyos or Asmodian players. If this is the case, you could find yourself fighting alongside the Balaur one day and staring down the wrong end of their sword the next.
So, is AION a clone of Lineage 2? Definitely not. AION takes the best of Lineage II and takes off...literally. Taking into consideration the customization of the characters, a continuous and in-depth story line, and the inclusion of aerial combat, this game is far from a clone. AION definitely stands on its own two feet...errr... wings.