2009

As I write this, I have two songs in my head: 1990 by Jean Leloup and 2001 by Melissa Etheridge.

How fast time has passed by. 2009 is at the corner and I’ve done my best at not thinking about it, and especially not thinking about some upcoming projects. I tend to be insominiac and I avoid sources of insomnia for my well being and excitment is one of them.

The Secret World
A few words have come out recently about the game, at the beginning of 2009, there should be finally an official website and a PR. Some parts of the game are near completion, others still in development and right now they’re implementing RPG and combat system to the game.

I really hope this time Funcom will have learned their lessons and deliver a well polished finished game with The Secret World. The fact that the leads behind The Secret World are not the same as Age of Conan is promising but with their reputation pretty much ruined when Age of Conan came out, they should make their best to be forgiven with The Secret World.

Guild Wars 2

At first we were told we would get beta news end of 2008 but it was changed to 2009. The only informations about Guild Wars 2 are scarce and no information about the game has come up since. I fell in love with the game when it came out may 2005, a genuine fantasy world and lore, one of the rare few that is not heavily inspired by Tolkien. The story of Guild Wars 2 happens 250 years after what happens in the expansion Eyes of the North. Unlike the first Guild Wars, many races will be playable in Guild Wars 2 and my favorite race is among the short list: the Charr (Link 1 + Link 2). The Dwarves will become extinct and won’t be a part of Guild Wars 2, so their only Tolkien element in Guild Wars will be non-existant in Guild Wars 2. So far, the official list of playable races has five races: Humans, Charr, Norns, Asuras and Silvaris. Whether there will be more races is unknown. The game will have no monthly fee again and apparently it will be persistent with some instances left for missions and dungeons.

So while we will get the same areas, after 250 years things will be entirely different and we will have to rediscover again the beloved areas.
Considering ArenaNet has done a very good job with Guild Wars I have a lot of hope with Guild Wars 2, they delivered a top notch well polished game with constant support, listened to their community of players even without having an official forums (many suggestions done by the players on fan forums were implemened in Guild Wars), etc. And I hope as well the graphics and art style will be even more gorgeous then they aready are.

More links:

Link 1

Link 2

This is a past blog entry from my gaming blog on Multiply.

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Guild Wars – Review

4/5

Guild Wars is a casual non-gear-oriented PvE MMO with some good PvP to do as well. Some devs from Blizzard wanted to try something new, left Blizzard and created ArenaNet, and they came up with Guild Wars. Considering Guild Wars has sold over 5 millions boxes, we can say with certainty that venture is a great success. Do not let yourself fool by the title that the game is fully PvP, the Guild Wars title actually refers to a certain period of time called Guild Wars in the history of the world of Tyria.

The devs wanted to try many new things and one of them is the settings of the game. Tolkien’s Middle-Earth and creatures have been overused to death during the last decades in novels and games of all sort (D&D to videogames) so for those who want fantasy without having to deal with yet another Tolkien’s inspired world… again, then Guild Wars is your answer. The only remnant of Tolkien in Guild Wars is the Dwarves that we get to interact with, the only playable race in Guild Wars is Human. So the first Guild Wars, called Prophecies, is based on a fantasy medieval europe with its characters (white caucasians) to architecture to armors. The graphics are superb and the art style oh so beautiful, the devs have decided to go toward realism of graphics instead of cartoonish for World of Warcraft. Even though the game has awesome graphics, the game can be played on very low computers and be played as well on dial-up connection, the game was made to be playable for everyone and to look way better than World of Warcraft in term of graphics. The devs have worked very hard on the lore and history of Tyria, fleshing out their world and there is a great variety of different environments from jungles to desert to snowy areas to explore. Even better, the devs have come up with a good storyline in Guild Wars that makes us the heroes and they use well instances, missions and cinematics (voiced videos) to fulfill this. The day you see your own alt in those cinematics, you’re hooked.

Each campaign adds a new area and a new type of people with their own history, you do not need the first game to buy a campaign. In Factions, the game is inspired highly by Asia and the devs have created a fantasy asian game with Asians everywhere, you even get to create your own asian alt. In Nightfall, the devs have inspired themselves from Middle-Orient and Africa to make it, so there are indeed Black and Oriental NPCs everywhere and you get to create your own too. Each campaign has its own storyline similar to the first Guild Wars and each adds two new classes as well as two new slots to play them. In Factions comes the Assassin and the Ritualist and from Nightfall the Paragon and the Dervish. The other playable classes are Warrior, Monk, Elementalist, Necromancer, Mesmer and Ranger. One fascinating aspect of the classes in Guild Wars is that each class has its own unique look and its own unique set of armors that the other classes cannot wear so it really sets them apart. If you want more slots you can now buy them on the online store. The beautiful music in Guild Wars was composed by Jeremy Soule who has previously won prizes for his music in other videogames, and in each campaign the music is different and suits well the different settings.
Guild Wars is a team-based game and you have to team up most of the time in order to do quests and missions. There are Henchmen that can be hired if you cannot find people to play with at that moment, but be aware that the Henchmen take their part of the drops like golds and items and that their AI is so so. In Nightfall, you get better, you get customizable heroes and you can choose which skills they will use and which weapons too, their AI is superior to the regular henchmen but just like them they take their part of the loot too.

The game is mostly instanced so you are alone with your team. It allows for scripted quests, you also don’t have to deal with bad players and you don’t have to wait in line for anything. Once the mobs are killed, they do not respawn. The maps are really good, the small one shows you exactly where you’ve been walking and exactly where you should go for the quest, and the top map at the right, you can also write on it with your mouse if you want to show the strategy you want to use to your teammates more clearly. The game makes it easy to do quests by showing you where to go, that doesn’t mean it will be a one minute trip though. You can only use eight skills at once on your bar so you have to make that decision before leaving town because once you are outside you cannot change your skills.

Talking about skills, it’s pretty much what Guild Wars is about. Each class gets tons of skills (I think each class has over 100 skills now, including elite skills) in different trees and in town you can switch around your points in the trees you want without having to pay a fee. In Guild Wars, each player gets to have as well a second class and everything you’ve unlocked on a class (skills and pet) is kept forever even if you switch around your second class many times (because you can switch too anytime your second class without having to pay a fee). So, the number of possible combinations with the first and second class and the amount of skills available, it makes you think a lot when it’s time to choose which eight skills you will bring with you this time. As I said, the game is pretty much about skills and the storyline, since the max level is 20 and easily reachable, you keep playing the game to follow the storyline but as well to acquire more skills including elite skills only obtainable by killing a certain elite boss.

Maybe it could be time I talk about PvP. The PvP in Guild Wars is fair and square since the game is non-gear-oriented which means anyone with so so armor and weapons can compete with the others in PvP. PvE and PvP are completely separated in Guild Wars which means that PvE players can happily do nothing but PvE and never touch to PvP, also your chance to get ganked is none in Guild Wars, and it’s true the other way around as well since you can create a full PvP alt at max level but you cannot do PvE with that PvP alt. There are many different forms of PvP available in Guild Wars: Guild versus Guild, Random Arena (2 teams of 4 put randomly), Team Arena (2 teams of 4), International PvP (Hall of Monument), some PvP with the Kurzicks and the Luxons and the last PvP Alliance Battle which is my favorite form of PvP. Most players in Guild Wars actually do not PvP or rarely. The devs behind Guild Wars, in order to satisfy the demands of the PvE players, have decided to put aside Guild Wars because the devs are limited with its engine and have decided to restart anew, build a new engine, and make Guild Wars 2 which happens around 250 years after the last expansion (Eyes of the North).

ArenaNet have recently put on sale a Guild Wars Trilogy that contains all three campaigns for a very good price, 50$ USD, which is very good for anyone who has wanted to try out the game but was overwhelmed at the thought of having to buy all three campaigns at 40-45$ USD each.

Nothing is perfect in this world, except for cats of course, so Guild Wars has to have flaws. I think the most important is the constant fights between the PvE players and the PvP players, and for a game where PvE and PvP was supposed to be separated, too many PvP elements was ruining PvE: balancing the skills in term of PvP and ignoring its impact in PvE was one, the Underworld (a dungeon) was only accessible if your country had won x times in the International PvP form, etc. On this matter, 3 years later, ArenaNet has finally fully separated these two but it’s too little too late. Some may find the instances and the absence of jumping a complete turnoff. Also, while at first there was sometimes a class discrimination when it was time to make a team, now it’s builds discrimination where players are not admitted in a team because they do have the "right" build (the set of eight skills on the skill bar). The community is so so and some places are filled with teenagers, or so it seems, but that doesn’t mean it’s all bad, there are plenty of nice people but unlike the bad ones they are less vocal. Guild Wars at first was all about fun and no grind, now it’s more about grind and it’s very sad indeed to see. It’s hard to find people to do missions but that is partly because people are spread out through the three campaigns so it makes grouping harder, the other reason is that Guild Wars will not get more content like a new expansion or campaign so some people have burned the game a while ago and have stopped playing the game, awaiting patiently for Guild Wars 2 (or not).

The game is perfect for casual players who love flexibility and who want to play a genuine fantasy game that is in no way related to Tolkien, where they get to be involved in many storylines where they are the heroes and have fun exploring beautiful fantasy worlds, where they can as well play a fair PvP when they want to. They will have to accept though that no new addition will be made to Guild Wars since the devs are focusing solely on Guild Wars 2.

The official website: http://www.guildwars.com/

This is a past blog entry from my gaming blog on Multiply.

The Lord of the Rings Online – Review

4/5

The Lord of the Rings Online is a casual MMO set in the world of Middle-Earth created by Tolkien, and the MMO is set during the books The Lord of the Rings. The world is very well recreated, anyone could get all mushy just wandering in the Shire (I do). The graphics are superb except for the models alas who are not as good quality as the scenics around, but after a while they grow on you and you end up finding the Hobbits oh so cute and huggable. The music is also very beautiful and atmospheric, setting well with the world. The Lord of the Rings Online is probably the most immersive MMO out there, Turbine has managed to create a breathing living world where one can cook, eat, drink, play music, dance and smoke pipe. You can even get your own house. Landroval is the unofficial RP server on the North American side and you will see often players role-playing their characters and throw RP events, yo get to write, and read bios as well. The community in The Lord of the Rings Online is very mature and nice.

You have access to four races when you create your characters: Elves, Hobbits, Dwarves and Humans. Each have their own newbie area except that the Dwarves and the Elves share theirs. Even though Frodo and his friends are the heroes in the books, Turbine has managed very well to integrate a parallel storyline for our alts where we get to be heroes as well. We handle the bandits at Bree, investigate the Ors in North Downs, and in the meantime we get to meet the main characters from the books ingame for more immersion.

The Lord of the Rings Online’s interface is very intuitive and the game is easy to be handled even by those who have never played a MMO before. The stats increase all by themselves when you level up and your skills become more powerful as well without having to dabble with anything. Each class has a good number of different skills to choose from, I’m not fond of those MMOs with very limited skills where you just get the same skill but a tid bit more powerful than the previous one. The game is non gear oriented, very casual, and it’s easy to level up and solo most of the content. Crafting is fun and very useful, you really have the feeling it’s meaningful.

Nothing is perfect in this world, except for cats of course, so The Lord of the Rings Online has to have flaws. The whole solo thing can be a bad thing when players can level up to the max level without ever grouping with anyone, which means that for those who like grouping or want to do group quests, like the Books quests, they have a hard time finding people to do these quests. While the coming expansion will remedy a bit my next point, there is a lack of classes in The Lord of the Rings Online. Also, the game has a definite lack of fantasy, there is no magic and no caster/magician, especially no caster class (the Rune-Keeper “magic” effects were greatly reduced in the beta so he is not really a caster anymore), so there are times when the game feels more like a medieval MMO than a fantasy one. It should please those who enjoy melee classes but for those who love to play casters it will be very tough, especially that some on the official forums hate to death the players who love to play casters so expect to be told to get back to WoW a lot, among other insults.

The game is perfect for casual players who want to immerse themselves in a beautiful world that caters to the PvE players mainly with a good community and with good devs that constantly add more to the game.

The official website: http://www.lotro.com/

This is a past blog entry from my gaming blog on Multiply.

City of Villains – Review

4/5

City of Villains is a casual MMO set in a strange world mixed with scifi, modernity, fantasy and horror, where your villain tries to build his place in the criminal world. The surroundings are mostly modern with a touch of scifi, it’s very well done, the graphics are nice and realistic. The rock/industrial music suit very well the settings. The character creation is awesome and you have so many choices to suit your fancy: modern, scifi, machine, fantasy, horror with undead and werewolf to beast. Right from the start, you can work on your character’s bio and motto, and if you play on a RP server you will be able to RP with other players as well since the community is very good. Each class has different options so that means that each player won’t play the same even if they have the same class. The travel skills are really cool.

At first, you do interesting quests in instances but later you get to choose one quest among three quests from the journal so it adds a bit of variety, and sometimes you even get to rob a bank. You get extra XP from playing in group and you can also change the difficulty of the quests you’ve taken. As I said previously, you try to build your place in this criminal world so you mostly fight against other villains, the game is rated Teen after all, so it’s impossible to just attack any NPC. There are touches of dark humor here and there that are funny. Villains can build lairs for their guild but that feature is now available to heroes as well. A crafting aspect was as well later added to the game. Now, when a player buys either side (Heroes or Villains) he gets the other side free when he creates his account so now everyone has access to both games just buy buying one. The Villains side is dirtier, grittier and darker in coloring while the Heroes side is more colorful and clean.

Nothing is perfect in this world, except for cats of course, so City of Villains has to have flaws. The first is the repetitiveness of the maps, once you’ve been inside a building for a quest per exemple, you’ve seen already the only map that is showed when you go inside buildings, it’s pretty much the same for the other maps. The second is the lack of skills, each class gets few skills so you keep using the same skills again and again, and after playing Guild Wars and its hundreds of skills, just using a few skills all the time is lame. I also heard that while the first 20 levels are casual, the other levels get grindier so it,s harder to level up.<

The game is perfect for casual players who have always dreamed to play and RP a villain, the game is fun and funny with a good community.

The official website: http://www.cityofheroes.com/

This is a past blog entry from my gaming blog on Multiply.

Warhammer Online

I’ve never planified to play Warhammer Online and yet here I am playing it. The reasons why I’ve stopped playing momentarily LOTRO are a bit long and complex but I’ll try. Excited by Mines of Moria, I rushed ahead to level up my alts to make them ready for Mines of Moria, LOTRO’s upcoming expansion, that tired me up a bit of the game. Then there was all this drama on the official forums about the trollish lore-nazis, constantly bashing players like me who love playing casters. Then there was the destruction of the rune-keeper by the lore nazi in the beta, the rune-keeper was fun but the animations are pretty much gone, I was really looking forward to it. The nail to the coffin is the upcoming nerf to my two favorite classes, lore-master and minstrel.

It really feels as if the few issues I’ve had with LOTRO have become bigger: lack of magic, absence of caster classes, lack of fantasy (the game feels more like a medieval MMO than a fantasy one actually).

I’ve spent the last two months not really playing but I payed my game card anyway, and I’m too poor and rational to waste money on a game I barely play. So I’ve decided to momentarily stop playing LOTRO and invest in another game for the next months, I cannot imagine myself not playing any MMO for a while. I’ve been through and through Guild Wars and I’ve burned the game so it has to be something else. I’ve heard good reviews about Warhammer Online and it had a good launch (unlike a few like Age of Conan per example), I can see there are many cool caster classes in their game, their PvP is fair, etc. Now that I’ve started it, it’s obvious they took a LOT from Guild Wars in a good way. The community is nice, the classes are fun, there is a decent PvE side along with their PvP, no death penalty, no item wear, anyone at any level can PvP. Some of the people in the guild I’m in in LOTRO are in Warhammer Online too and I’ve found a good guild there, I was in their guild at some point with them in LOTRO. The guild is Shadow Company.

I find the Destruction side wicked cool and their classes oh so wicked cool too, so I play on the Destruction side on the NA RP Ostermark server and the Order side on the NA RP Phoenix Throne server. My Destruction alts are Azaroth (Disciple of Khaine), Khainlin (Sorcerer), Minesha (Magus), Rahmiel (Zealot), Tamarah (Witch Elf), Waaka (Shaman) and Waaroth (Squig Herder). My Order alts are Flamelia (Bright Wizard), Kharzem (Engineer), Mazaroth (Shadow Warrior), Minesha (Archmage), Sapphir (White Lion) and Sulian (Witch Hunter). I like that it’s dark and gritty. Warhammer Online is not perfect of course, it’s interface is far from being intuitive and there are elements missing but it’s decent and the classes are fun to play. I’m very lost since I know nothing about the lore of the game but at the same time, discovering a new world is fun.