Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Lord of the Rings: Online

So I downloaded that and tried it - there are 6 days left. I'm on the Vilny server, top left option. It appears to be an RP server, as I saw only one name that wasn't RP, and saw several people use "OOC:" in their chats.

Executive Summary
The game leaves me unimpressed. It is a very good WoW clone. That's not exactly a compliment. It is artistically pleasing, and the first MMO with that distinction since WoW that I've seen.

It's not as user friendly as WoW and that might really kill it. In WoW, you pick up quests that are clearly identifiable and immediately do them. You can pick up several and accidentally do them. In this game, I spent two hours and didn't get near as many quests done, nor could I follow them as easily as in WoW. Hard to explain, but it just happened that way - I was a member of American Mensa, so I don't think it's because I'm just dumb. That said, it wasn't boring or punishing, because I kept playing.

To do anything with your levels you have to find a trainer, which is kind of homosexual, but expected. Perhaps I'm just used to WoW's inventory system, but I like it better than LotR:O. The inventory system appears to be a functional copy, without directly copying - I'm sure Blizzard has patented something.

The game does not assume you know about the lore of the Lord of the Rings, and each race lets you choose a nation / land of origin, which alters what color hair and skin you can have. Making a red-headed Pharra required that she come from Rohan, not Gondor, which I thought was cool.

The graphics are incredibly good and smooth. The bad part is that everything is easy to see even in the dark, so nothing is very scary. I did experience the "Dread" effect when I saw a Nazgul though, my screen got dark and contrasty and my vision blurred - that was disorienting so I backed off quickly. Neat, but I haven't seen it used since.

Combat & Classes
The combat feels kind of like WoW with a Warrior, having played around with a Guardian and a Champion (Warrior Tank / Warrior DPS).

I must say that the LotR setting has hurt the game classes, although I'm sure it will save the game as far as people actually joining it. I'm sure it will be a commercial success, a viable game, but not a killer MMO.

The reason? Well since The Lord of the Rings canon says there were only five wizards during the end of the Third Age, "Lore Masters," "Minstrels" and "Burglars" all suffer. We have three classes that are really "Warriors with different skill trees" in WoW:

Captain - a Warrior who handles group buffs and agro.
Champion - a Warrior who hurts things.
Guardian - a Warrior who handles agro and tanks.

That's really a whole lot of warriors.

Other than that, there's a Hunter! Which is really a ranged Warrior.

Perhaps, at higher levels, the differences will be more pronounced, but there's a 15 level cap in the BETA (out of 50) and this is what I've seen so far.

Minstrels heal, supposedly, as does the Lore Master class - which is "NOT A WIZARD!" but pretends to be. How... strange.

Split Servers
All of that said, it is better than I expected, and should be a viable game. Once again, the game is split into servers, which is homosexual, so you can't play with your friends like you can in Awesome Guild Wars, which is un-awesome in about every OTHER aspect, if you're holding it to the MMO candle.

Lifetime Membership and stuff
For $199 you can get a lifetime membership if you order now, and pre-ordering gives you rights to $10 a month instead of $15 forever, if you don't opt for big bucks.

It Will Probably Sell
Given the licensing and the setting, I think this MMO will not die horribly. It will probably find its niche, like City of Heroes, etc., and do well.

Remember, Dave hates MMO's, with a Passion
Also, bare in mind, I hate MMO's. I hate their repetition, the way they force you to play them, the way you can't tinker with a darn thing, etc. I hate that I can't hear a cool story from Dove or Kevin and go home, fire up the game and go meet them, lose interest and do it again in a few months. All I can do is live vicariously, and I'm content with that.

Lastly, I'd Like to Play it More
The terrain is really neat and I was really surprised about the names given to the characters. None of this "Prestochango" the Druid shit, or "Idoitfrombehind" Rogue bullshit names. I'd like to see what being in a Fellowship (party/guild) is like. But unlike City of Heroes, other than the setting, I can't think of why I should.

Oh yes, you can inhabit Monsters starting at level 10 and use them to attack other people in certain "free" zones where this is to be expected. From what I've read - you get the option to buy non-reusable buffs for your character for your trouble. Yay. Not. But nifty idea otherwise.

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