ZU Online - A New Preview for Zu
MMORPG.com's Joe Iuliani has been spending some time trying out IGG's ZU Online and today he files this preview report.
The realms of Zu are steeped in Chinese Folklore and Mythology. If you ever wanted to take part in the worlds of “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”, “Hero” or the old Jademan Comics, this game is for you. Zu is brought to you by folks at Onwind Digital Co., Ltd, and is part of Internet Gaming Gate (home to a number of Free to Play games). You will to need to register an account at IGG.com before you can begin.
Getting Started in Zu:
Getting Started in Zu:
Character creation begins with choosing your Zu mascot. These mascots are based on the twelve animals of the Chinese Zodiac. Besides having a cute and cartoony mascot you also benefit from the fact that, “during the blessed hour of you mascot you will get twice the result for half the effort”. This can be an important factor when choosing your mascot. I went for the one from the year I was born, then l I realized that it did not corresponded to the times I played. Lucky me.
Next you choose your faction. The factions are more of a training philosophy. It appears that all factions use the same common areas. A quick summary of the factions are:
- Tai: The Power of the Element
- Wu: Renascent Energy
- Xun: Soul and Faith
There are bonuses and penalties to the faction you choose. I haven’t found what they are yet. But during this selection stage it is mentioned rather clearly...
Finally you choose the clan (character) you would like to be.
The characters of Zu are imbued with fantastic physical and magical abilities. Players can choose from your “standard” gaming classes: tanks, casting, dps, healing and summoning.
The character descriptions from the Zu website are:
Sun Warrior, with their strong wills and iron bodies, is one of the strongest clans in the secondary world. If you engage in a fight against them, you’d better keep the distance for no one escapes from the fight unharmed.
Moonmaiden is quick and skillful in the secondary world. They can gain the initiatives using special magic abilities, such as trapping enemies and turning invisible to sneak up on their enemies.
Swordsman is one of the largest clans in the secondary world. They are good at long distance fighting. With the help of the Bead Fairy, they are able to take the most advantage of their sword fighting skills to fight against the enemies.
Bead Fairy belongs to a peaceful clan. They are very popular in the secondary world because of their ability to cure the injured and put enemies in a coma to defeat them without fighting.
Summoner is a different species in the secondary world. They are able to summon the ghosts from hell to fight for them and torture the enemies by poison and magic scroll.
I started with the Sun Warrior, since I figured he would die less, and he reminded me of Akuma. (So he has that going for him, which is nice)
Unfortunately there is very little in the way of customizing your character’s appearance at the beginning of Zu. The only custom choices available are type of face, hair style and hair color.
There is a brief in game tutorial with creation of new characters. I found the tutorial extremely useful since movement in Zu is a little different from what I am used to. In fact, movement was the second hardest obstacle to overcome. The first obstacle is the same that faces any new player to an MMO, trying to find out where everything is located. This is where my favorite in game feature comes into play, the Zu map.
There are a variety of maps throughout Zu, each dependent on the type of area you are located. City, Local, and World maps each have numerous features; such as key individuals and locations which are clearly detailed on these maps. The maps also come complete with X and Y coordinates. These may just sound like regular mapping features, but where the maps really shine are the ability to use the maps to move your character. That’s right folks; you can use the maps to move from place to place. It’s great to just click on a name or location on you map and you move to wear you click. It saved me a lot time trying to figure out which way to go. Questing runs very smoothly with this feature. Speaking of questing there are your standard “learn to play” quests as soon as you begin playing.
In addition to clicking on the map and running around the world of Zu, there appear to be a tremendous number of both flight paths and teleport pads (Take that WOW Zeppelins).
Combat in Zu was pretty straight forward: Identify target, click on target, click your choice of attack, repeat until enemy is dead.
PVP is available in Zu, players can choose to engage in a PVP mode or set Peace mode. I opted for Peace mode, since I am a lover not a fighter. Ok, the truth is I’ve been ganked so many times in my gaming life; I just opted to avoid it at this time.
A trade skill system is in place for Zu, although I haven’t had a chance to try it yet (save that for the full on review), but it has been said that trade skills will play a large part in your character’s end game development.
The User Interface was intuitive, although there was nothing that really stood out about it. I mean it’s a UI what do you really expect it to do? Journals and logs were laid out very clearly.
Keep an eye for in-game Novice guides, I found one in the guise of an Earth God. Novice guides are a tremendous source of game information. Essentially they are the in game instruction manual.
The main Zu Online site at http://zu.igg.com/index.php is full of tons of game play tips. Their “getting started” section was tremendous help, especially their Newbie Guide. It’s also a good place to get a bit of a feel for the Zu world.
The Bottom Line
The Bottom Line
PROS: Zu is a great free MMO and without a doubt worth the download time. The graphics are clear and crisp, with a very good feel to it. The load screens have an antique Chinese painting appeal it really catches the eye, coupled with soothing music there is an almost Zen quality to it. Game play moves quickly and easily. From running around the cities, you get an idea of what is ahead in game from seeing more of the veteran characters running around. The higher end armor, weapons, and mounts are very impressive.
CONS: I had more than my share of difficulty connecting to Zu on a regular basis please keep in mind that this game is still in the testing phases). Once in-game, I experienced no problems, it was just logging in that proved problematic. Over time the problem became lesser but annoying nonetheless. As part of the Internet Gaming Gate, Zu is indeed to be free to play; I just don’t think it will be free to excel at Zu. There is an online item mall that will advance your character and it is my opinion that the use of this mall is the only way to really get ahead in the game. I didn’t really take the time to explore the Item mall; I couldn’t quite bring myself to spend the cash without a much better understanding of the game. The game boasts that there are no differences between in game items and those purchased through the mall, but not having seen the results (again, we’ll wait for the full review), it’s hard to say and I’m dubious by nature.
Still, go and try Zu, you won’t be disappointed.