Posts Tagged ‘mmorpg’

CrunchReview: MMO Civilization-game Ikariam

3 June 2008 | 22 Comments » | LHStaff

A few weeks ago I stumbled across one of the most delightful MMO browser games. In fact, I was so enamored by it that I actual convinced three of my other friends to play it with me in a world populated by… well at least a few hundred other would-be kings. The main reason why I was so enamored by it, and I am assuming you’ll be able to make the distinction as well, is due to it’s inherent familiarity with long-time famed series: Civilization. Let’s take a closer look at Ikariam, a massively multiplayer online strategic browser game.

Despite its instant familiarities with Civilization, the gameplay is actually quite different, but don’t be too quick to give up hope. Where Ikariam is different than Civilization is also why Ikariam is such a fun game. Some key differences include:

  • This game is time based, not turn based.
  • You won’t ever get to different eras of technology. You’ll primarily be hanging out with Caesar and crew in this game.
  • The entire world is divided up into hundreds of islands with a specific amount of space available on each for newcomers and colonies.

Now that I have dashed away the key differences let’s continue on to the actual review of the game which, like I have stated before, is still quite good.

You’ll start your new-found civilization on a random island, most likely already populated by other players. Depending on where you start off you could start on a relatively young island or an island already teaming with huge civilizations. For example, when I started I was placed on an island where the highest level city was only 5 (out of 24), where as, one of my friends started out on an island where the highest level was level 18. Needless to say, he was in a much heavier situation than I was. Naturally you’ll start your city with nothing but a town hall that is level one and from there you’ll build all your buildings in designated plots of land.

Now before I continue on, I think it’s important to explain briefly the mechanics that make Ikariam work. I mentioned above that the game is time based, not turn based. This means that every building you make (only one at a time per city) will take a certain amount of time and resources to make. So provided you have the amount of wood and ore required to upgrade, let’s say, your town hall it still means you’ll have to wait until it’s actually built. These times depend on the level you are upgrading your building too and range anywhere from 10 minutes to 12 hours and beyond. The same holds true for troops, trading, transporting, and warfare. Everything is time based and, while that may seem like a turn-off, the system works surprisingly well.

Continuing on now that we’ve explained the logistics of the game a bit more, you’ll find near everything in Ikariam that you’d expect from Civilization, only smaller and more suitable for a “play for 15 minutes” type style. Barracks allow you to build troops, academies allow you to invest in research towards one of four fields (seafaring, military, economy, science), hideouts allow you to train thieves, trading ports allow you to build cargo fleets, and shipyards allow you to build military fleets. All the same fun stuff you’d expect from a Civilization-esque game.

In order to recruit troops, research certain things, and build and upgrade buildings, however, you’ll need the resources to back them up and sometimes, those aren’t very easy to come by. In fact, this is probably one of the few annoying things about the game. When you start on your island you’ll have two resources available, wood and one of the other four resources. Each island has a different resource and depending on which you land on you could end up with marble, sulfur, crystal, or grapes. Each has their own uses and you’ll notice that each becomes extremely important in the later parts of the game, especially grapes. Early on, however, the most important resource you’ll need will be marble, and if you have no instant access to that material you had better start asking some of your neighboring islands that do to cut you a deal or else your expansion has ground to a halt. It’s a slow process and an even slower fix as it could take weeks to secure some marble. When all is said and done though, you should be back on your path to civilization greatness.

Of course, what would a good review be without a look at the battle system? Yes, worry not, those troops that you plan on amassing will be put to good use. Ikariam offers two direct ways to utilize your military; pillaging and occupation. They do exactly what they sound like. Should you decide to pillage your neighbor and succeed you’ll get an amount of their resources/gold (depending on how fast your troops can load up your ships). If you decide to actually occupy a city and succeed you’ll get full use of that city until such times as you decide to withdraw. The actual battles are a bit mundane and offer no graphics, but it’s still satisfying knowing that your troops are returning with a bounty of treasure.

So that’s basically it. There is a lot to do in Ikariam and if I really wanted to I could probably explain on and on about all the minute details that make Ikariam so much fun. However, as I am sure this block of text has already fulfilled your review quota for the day, I’ll just tell you to go out there and give the game a try! It’s 100% free and while they do offer a RMT system I haven’t noticed anything that they offer to give any players a noticeable advantage. For those who wish to look me up here is my information:

  • Server: Iota
  • Username: Dmitry
  • Island location: 2, 32

Hope to see you there!

Ikariam.org

One Mythos Please… MMO Sized!

2 June 2008 | No Comments » | LHStaff

The crazy bastards did it! I don’t know why they decided to do what they did but the brilliant minds behind the charmingly free2play MORPG Mythos has decided to tack on another M to that acronym and fully realize it as a true MMORPG. That’s right, as of last week, Flagship Studios released unto their test server their newest incarnation that is headed towards the once fully instanced game, that is a persistent world dubbed the “Overworld”.

For those that have yet to play Mythos or even hear about it, the game is being developed by some of the same people who brought you Diablo 2. As such it plays much like it; point top move, right click to use a skill, left click to attack, massive amounts of loot, etc. Up until last week, the rpesentation of the game was much the same, you and a few friends party up in the town (usually StoneHill) and take off into an instanced zone on your way to whatever quest you were on. It was a simple straight forward method, but it was also one that worked fairly well. Well apparently the developers disagreed.

While not yet available on the actual server, those players whose curiosity needs to be peeked can find that if they head on over to the test server they can experience Mythos ala World of Warcrat style. That is to say, you can go anywhere and do anything with anybody at anytime. For those of you who are fearing that this game will become yet another WoW-clone now that it has lost much of it’s past identity, don’t worry, while the presentation may be completely disheveled the core gameplay is still much the same. Lots of baddies, lots of flashy skills, and lots of loot await you in Mythos just like before. The only difference is now it’s all in one big persistent world. It’s all very exciting stuff!

Has World of Warcraft Peaked?

29 May 2008 | No Comments » | LHStaff

With the resent release and huge success of Age of Conan and a slew of high profile MMORPGs on the way, could it be that WOW has finally hit its peak. The last numbers we received from Blizzard were back in Jan 2008 stating that WOW has passed the 10 million mark. If you take a look at the chart provided by mmogchart.com, you’ll see the subscription numbers since WOW went live and you can plainly see that the numbers are approaching a plateau.

I can’t tell you how many WOW players I heard from saying they were switching to AoC and I can imagine the same when Warhammer Online comes out later this year. However players leaving one game for another is nothing new and WOW has managed to keep increasing its numbers regardless of what games come out. The question is can it keep doing it.

I don’t believe it can. I think that it will peak sometime this summer and start declining in the fall or winter.  World of Warcraft has had a great run, not to say it won’t still be #1 for a long long time, but I believe Blizzard knows WOW is approaching its peak and they are looking towards the future with an unnamed MMO in the works. Starcraft, Diablo or maybe a Lost Vikings MMO (yes Blizzard made Lost Vikings), but whatever the MMO is, I’m sure it will keep Blizzard at the top of the MMO gaming world for years to come.

No AoC for You!

28 May 2008 | No Comments » | LHStaff

After hearing how everyone has been loving AoC, reading some reviews and receiving my latest issue of PCGamer with AoC slapped on the cover I decided I had waited long enough. I got into my car and decided to head to the nearest Gamestop, which didn’t have it. No biggie, there’s another one close by. Again they were sold out. I then tried Bestbuy who I thought would definitely have it, I mean there huge, but alas they did not, also sold out. At this point I decided to call it a day and headed home defeated.

Today however I feel like giving it another shot. So I am currently on my way to another Bestbuy which is about 40 mins away, but the travel time is a small price to pay for MMO gaming goodness. I checked online and it says they have some in-stock, but with those online checkers you never know. I already picked up a 3 month game card when I was out yesterday, so I just need the game and I’ll be ready to go. Seriously you’d think this was a Mario or Halo game I was trying to get. Wish me luck.

UPDATE: I just got back and am happy to say I finally found a store that had some in-stock and all it took was  2 days, 3 Gamespots, 2 Bestbuys and 1 EBGames to finally get a copy.  I actually got lucky cause the EBGames that had it literally just got a shipment, the games weren’t even on the shelves yet but in the delivery box.

Anyway, I’m installing the game right now then I’ll probably have to download some massive update, so only a few more hrs.

MMO 2.0 and the Next Generation of Online Gaming

27 May 2008 | 7 Comments » | LHStaff

Lately, there has been a lot to talk about in the MMO-verse, with Age of Conan just getting released and a World of Warcraft expansion pack on track for a holiday unveiling there seems to be nothing that can stop the momentum gained by the industry. However, despite all the success being thrown around by the top five MMOs (World of Warcraft, Lord of the Rings Online, Age of Conan, EVE Online, Final Fantasy XI) there seems to be very little that is truly pushing the genre towards the “next step.”

In every walk of the technological life there are upgrades to the original. Even something as simple as the web was fully upgraded into what has become to lovingly termed: web 2.0. So the same should hold true for MMO, right? You’d think so, but very little has actually changed since the dawning of the 3D MMORPG in the heyday of Everquest. There has been smaller changes like the advent of a quest based storyline and an enhanced mini-map and traveling system, but nothing I’d really call revolutionary, or next generation. Let’s face it, nobody out there is really attempting to do anything to set a new standard in the industry.

Now I know that there is at least one EVE Online fan reading this right now in disgust. Let me say this right now, EVE Online is definitely a different experience and CCP has done a marvelous job and creating a successful MMO that strays from the typical archtype that most MMOs follow today. However, that said, they are not setting a standard in the industry. EVE Online and CCP will not be changing the way the industry makes its games and there probably won’t be any long lasting affects from their technology. The original Xbox was the first to really incorporate seamless online and now it has become the standard. MySpace truly pushed the bounds of “web 2.0″ with it’s social networking applications and it has now become the standard. Apple created the first truly desirable MP3 player and it has now become the standard. All of these are examples of an industry that was expanded on by companies that wished to create a fresh experience on an old application and as such truly changed the landscape of how everybody else played in that field. So despite EVE Online’s unique gameplay they certainly haven’t changed the way developers make games.

So, where does that leave the industry? With the huge success of World of Warcraft, which handily dashes the success of the other top four MMOs combined, game developers desperately need to find new ways to make their games different and if that means employing a new combat system (Age of Conan) or seriously enhancing the PvP and RvR settings (Warhammer Online) then thats what these companies will do. Unfortunately, many of these “enhancements” are gimmicky at best and won’t be offering any true MMO 2.0 anytime soon. However, and this is just my prediction, I think it’s safe to say that after all the so called “WoW-killers” have debuted to date, the only MMO that will truly begin to pick away at the house that Blizzard built will be an MMO 2.0 game. Personally, I’m keeping my eye on Copernicus.

P.S. I am in no way calling Age of Conan’s combat system or WAR’s RvR system bad or flawed, but, rather, non-revolutionary. Yes I have tested out both; Age of Conan beta, Warhammer Online at E for All 2007.

AoC Feats Calculator

22 May 2008 | No Comments » | LHStaff

For those of you guys fighting your way through Hyboria, I thought you would be interested to know that Ten Ton Hammer has added a feats calculator on their site.   I’m sure most of us have used such calculators in the past to help us decide what skills to train and in what order and considering how new AoC is, I’m sure you guys will get some good use out of it.

I got say that I’m trying to hold out for some reviews before I get AoC, but it’s getting hard.   I mean I’m not playing any MMOs right now and I bunch of friends have gotten it and keep talking about it, so I think after this holiday weekend, I’m going to give in and pick up the game on Tuesday.  PvP all the way.  See ya guys there.

Not a Single MMO in GameRanking's Top 100 (Anymore)

19 May 2008 | No Comments » | LHStaff

The MMO genre of gaming is not a particularly young one. In fact, I’d say it’s only a few years younger than the modern RTS and FPS genres (I remember playing my very first graphical MMO in 1997). So, suffice it to say, I was a bit surprised when I found out that not one MMORPG has made it onto GameRanking.com’s top 100 list. I’ve checked the list and I’ve checked it twice (ho ho!) and I’m telling you there are no MMOs to be found which raises the question: why haven’t any MMOs made it there yet?

Believe it or not, despite the genre being over a decade old now there really aren’t that many MMOs in the market. In fact, of the actual “pay2play” model of MMO there are typically only a handful of games released each year, as opposed to the thousands of Wii, 360, PS3, PC games that are released each year. This probably has had some sort of impact as to why there are no MMOs on the list. Let’s face it, when there are so many games coming out every year the MMO is bound to slowly get pushed down the list until a new one makes it back up there. In fact, GTAIV actually pushed World of Warcraft right off the list (who now sits at #101). However, that said, this logic does seem to conflict with the “quality over quantity” saying. Despite putting out fewer games than most other genres, there are still many quality issues that exist within the games upon launch… which brings us to our next issue.

One of the most obvious reasons as to why most MMOs never make it to the top of review scores is primarily due to quality. MMOs are HUGE worlds with many aspects of gameplay all running simultaneously with thousands of gamers. The sheer scope of programmability within these games would probably dwarf about ten single player games of near any other genre. Because of this there are a number of quality issues that must be tested and, unfortunately, the best test usually occurs after the game has gone live. As many MMOGamers know many of the biggest fixes and features aren’t readily patched until a couple months after the games release, which cites the mantra of many gamers today: “An MMO on launch day will be completely different 6 months later.” Perhaps if reviewers would put up two reviews of an MMO there would be a better “leveling off” of the scores…

Anyways, take from this what you will. World of Warcraft still sits at a very respectable #101 right above Zelda: A Link to the Past (one of my favorite games) with the next “MMO” being WoW: Burning Crusade at #142. After that there is nothing until beyond the 200 mark. It’s very clear that GTAIV effectively pushed WoW out of the running, but even before then WoW was only at #99 which is just barely scraping it by. No telling what MMO will make it there next. While Age of Conan looks like it will receive fair scores, I seriously doubt it’ll reach the top 100. Anybody want to take bets on Warhammer Online?

Check out the full top 200 list HERE.

World of Warcraft Getting a Graphical Update?

17 May 2008 | No Comments » | LHStaff

In an interview with EuroGamerWorld of Warcraft producer J. Allen Brack stated that eventually there will “probably” be an graphical update for WOW.

“Will we need a graphical update from the ground up at some point? Yep, probably. And I’m positive we’ll talk about it next expansion”

With the successful graphical revamp Eve Online pulled off back in Dec with their Trinity Expansion, it’s no surprise to see more and more MMOs taking this path. Other games such as Ultima Online and EverQuest have also done graphical upgrades to their games, but with mediocre results.

Personally I’d much rather the MMO I’m playing do a graphical update then release a sequel that basically makes everyone start from scratch.