I had a chance to play Atlantica Online earlier this week in-between being sick and playing Warhammer: Online. For a game that is in beta, it seems to want to be treated as a game that has been already released, claiming in its advertisements: “Love it, or we’ll give cash for your character!” This caught my eye specifically and made me want to try the game, not because I wanted to love it; I figured I’d hate it, since I’m a bitter shell of a man, and could get some cash out of it. However, if you take a look at the details of the ‘offer’ it sounds more like they’re trying to get cheap power-leveling out of their players than actually convince you to play. Offers aside, we’re here to discuss my first impressions, so let’s get on with it!
Graphics/UI: 5/10 – ‘Meh’
The graphics are nothing innovative. They’re similar to most eastern games on the market. This game is particularly similar to Sword of the New World, a MMORTSRPG(?) I had the chance to try last year. I don’t normally review games at the login screen, but this one wants to be. I had never in all my years seen a login screen with so many, many random colors. I think it was depicting a large-scale battle, but to me it seemed like an orgy of fairies and daemons on a rainbow chessboard. Once I survived the seizure-inducing login screen, it was time to create my character. Character customization is very limited, not only at the character screen but in-game as well. I only had about five hairstyles to choose from, two outfit types, and a…weapon? Well, anyway, once in-game the graphics didn’t get that much better. After playing to about level 10(I think), I had gotten quite a few pieces of armor. Instead of evenly distributing them between myself and my mercenaries I figured I’d put them all on my “visible” character to upgrade his appearance. Where’s my helmet? Where are the new pants I got? The character looked exactly the same as it did before I equipped anything on him.
Now, let’s make something very clear. The game needs to have low system requirements in order to function properly, as battles will eventually become very, very large. This is not why the game’s graphics are ‘meh’. World of Warcraft and Warhammer: Online both had relatively low system requirements when released as compared to the available technology at the time. However, the way they depicted their characters, the landscapes, the spell effects, was very original, and relevant to the world they were basing the game on. Atlantica Online just seems to have copied and pasted a combination of Lineage 2 graphics, with Sword of the New World graphics, and other eastern games. That’s harsh, perhaps, but it seems to be the way the game wants to be treated. “Old MMOs not ‘WOW’ing you?” it proudly boasts in its advertisements, suggesting that they have something new and refreshing to offer. It certainly isn’t in the graphics department.
Gameplay/Chat/Community: 5/10 – ‘Who’s my special little boy?’
This section of my first impressions review will not focus on the combat aspect of the game. That’s a separate aspect altogether as they seem to want it to be. As soon as you start playing, the game will assume that you don’t know how to use your mouse or keyboard and will simply ‘lock’ you to the tutorial NPC. It will explain the world to you a little bit, and how to get started on completing your first quest. This is where the game also makes another assumption: it seems to believe that you’re too dumb to find battles on your own, so it will go find them for you. That’s right, there’s an ‘auto-move’ option that will automatically move you to your active quest’s objective. From there, all you have to do is either talk to NPC X or kill monster Y.
Perhaps an aspect that the tutorial should have expanded on was how to use the chat interface. I kept seeing only one person in my chat log, and they seemed to be talking to themselves. Not in the sense that there was no one else for them to talk to, but in the sense that they seemed to be answering questions and holding a conversation while there was no one else in the chatroom talking. Maybe I didn’t know how to use the chat, or maybe the game packs an auto-ignore feature that will ignore people it knows you won’t like automatically.
Now, one feature I sort of liked is the player’s ability to post in-game advertisements that are displayed at the top of your screen for goods and services players are interested in trading or selling(some services which I didn’t understand, such as ‘teaching pants’). This automatically made me think that goldsellers would be filling these advertising spaces with goldselling links. At the same time, though, it’s much less intrusive than those long whispers we get on other games, or the huge chunks of text in public chatrooms. If the feature were to be moderated, goldselling advertisements could be removed almost immediately.
Battle system/leveling system: 6/10
At last we come to Atlantica Online’s innovative feature. Okay, now that we’ve had a good laugh, it’s serious time. Let’s talk about how the battle system works:
- When you right click a mob to attack, a Final Fantasy-esque transition will take you to a battle sequence.
- You select the character you want to ‘move.’
- You then choose what you want your character to do. There’s attack, use item, use magic, all the standards.
- You will have a time limit, after which the enemy will make their move.
- You are now taking turns hitting each other with random things until one group is dead.
This is supposed to be the best part about Atlantica Online. Strategic turn-based combat that makes you think carefully about what you’re going to use on your opponent for maximum efficiency. The timer was so short, however, that I found myself frantically clicking enemy monsters while hitting “q” over and over so that every now and then a magical ability would go off. I had 4 characters to move on a 15 second timer. It completely removed the ‘strategic’ part out of combat. Not to mention, it took me ten levels to figure out how to remove that annoying camera thing in battles where characters would take a ‘solo.’ A ‘solo’ is when your character decides he’s better than every other mercenary there and will take up the whole screen to show off his magical abilities in greater detail. Problem is: the timer is still running during this sequence, so if your guy decides to summon Knights of the Round or whatever, then by the time the sequence is over, so is your turn.
The combat system ended with me hitting two buttons over and over. I felt if I hooked up a Rock Band drum peripheral to my computer I could get through the battle easily by dropping some freestyle beats. My characters seemed to be a lot stronger than anything they encountered, so there was no need to think on anything. It’s a race to see how fast you can click enemy targets with a 15 second limit. Last thing, what’s up with the looting? When the mobs are dead, I have to loot them to claim my prize, but there’s usually 4-6 mobs to loot, and it uses up a character turn to loot a mob. So if all 4 of your mercenaries can move in a given turn you can loot 4 mobs, then you have to wait until the enemy corpses make a move before you can loot the remaining ones. What the hell?! Why even given corpses a turn?
The leveling system also had me a bit confused. I know each mercenary gains levels and they’re all displayed in the UI outside of combat. A lot of things required “level 20″ and it made me wonder what exactly that meant, though. An average of the levels of all your mercenaries? The level of your main character? Another thing was the random number in brackets next to my name. I saw it on every new player I ran into. I figured it wasn’t my level since it said “18″ and my character’s level at the bottom clearly said “Lv.1″. In the end, I decided it was my character’s age. A strapping young lad with a cannon on his back and a pocket full of dreams.
Overall: 5.5/10 – Nothing further, your honor.
Even though the game is still in beta, it seems to be advertising proudly things that it can’t really offer. If you hated the game, and want to take them up on their offer for cash, you have to get to level 50 first. “Old MMOs not ‘WOW’ing you” I see what you did there. Thanks, but I’d rather go back to World of Warcraft and endure the tedious scripted instances with several people who didn’t know a giant beam or orb was coming right at them, and that it wasn’t a good thing.
In the end, if you like these types of games, you know, the free, eastern, copy-paste-insert-item-mall-instant-cash games, then you might have some fun with this one. It’s a little bit different than other released MMOs, even if it’s not innovative in any way whatsoever.