Games Review: Aion

A worthy challenger to World of Warcraft crown

In the wake of some failed wannabe World of Warcrafts, gamers often wonder if there could ever be another game as popular.

It's too easy and too dangerous to make predictions here, but South Korea's NCSoft's vast new multiplayer online game, Aion for PC, is the latest worthy challenger. For me - as an alternative to WoW, I'm very impressed.



The game has a big following in South-east Asia and it's been adopted well for western audiences. WoW has more than 11 million subscribers, something other wannabes have not been able to even get near.



Early signs are promising for the Korean company, which was a successful pioneer in early online games.



In Europe, more than 400,000 had ordered the game before it was released and there are reports that there are more than 3.5m subscribers in Asia playing the game.



There's a lot to like here, starting with the stunning graphics (which uses the pretty world and creatures to dazzle), especially if you have a good graphics card (although not needed). Amazing natural effects - like water, mist, waves and trees in the breeze - along with spells and nasty monsters have a lot more polygons to show off than expected.



On top, the gameplay is silky smooth and Oceanic servers mean close hardware with less lag. It's built on a version of the Cry Engine, made famous from the FarCry FPS genre.



In the story, you've lost your memory in a world called Atreia, where you ascend to divinity and fight in a huge celestial war. It's a world that has been torn in two with the resulting two races trying to survive.



They have a common enemy for the civil war and need to help each other to keep living. Every character can fight and challenge other players.



Check out the trailer:

It's too easy and too dangerous to make predictions here, but South Korea's NCSoft's vast new multiplayer online game, Aion for PC, is the latest worthy challenger. For me - as an alternative to WoW, I'm very impressed.The game has a big following in South-east Asia and it's been adopted well for western audiences. WoW has more than 11 million subscribers, something other wannabes have not been able to even get near.Early signs are promising for the Korean company, which was a successful pioneer in early online games.In Europe, more than 400,000 had ordered the game before it was released and there are reports that there are more than 3.5m subscribers in Asia playing the game.There's a lot to like here, starting with the stunning graphics (which uses the pretty world and creatures to dazzle), especially if you have a good graphics card (although not needed). Amazing natural effects - like water, mist, waves and trees in the breeze - along with spells and nasty monsters have a lot more polygons to show off than expected.On top, the gameplay is silky smooth and Oceanic servers mean close hardware with less lag. It's built on a version of the Cry Engine, made famous from the FarCry FPS genre.In the story, you've lost your memory in a world called Atreia, where you ascend to divinity and fight in a huge celestial war. It's a world that has been torn in two with the resulting two races trying to survive.They have a common enemy for the civil war and need to help each other to keep living. Every character can fight and challenge other players.Check out the trailer:

The ability to customise characters is on a par with the best and with the richer environments it means more staring at the screen.



Multiplayer online is a live-or-die scenario, but this company has set a very good example for others to follow because almost every session ends with at least one item obtained, an achievement unlocked or a quest completed.



Early on in the online game came the inevitable ‘gold spam', which became more and more a nuisance, but soon the game moderators running the servers dealt to the spammers with updates that banned spammers who soon started to disappear. Players I have encountered in the last three weeks have been well behaved, friendly and fun, another good omen that this game has longevity.



Group modes have six players and various item collection modes. Guilds or legions have their own accounts in the warehouse, along with a player account for the eight characters maximum per server (either Asmodian or Elyos). Certain game quests require a number of your players on the same server at certain levels to unlock them.



So far there are 50 levels. At level 10 players get their "wings' which enables them to do some limited gliding in the playground (Poeta). In flight combat with spells and archery from altitudes of less than 25m is a completely new experience.



It's also at that stage that the landscape opens up to reveal its beauty and the races diversify. As you spread your wings you also get responsibility to take on a major and minor craft to build accessories (e.g. earrings, necklaces) through to creating a custom set of protective gear with the armoursmith trade.



You get an account "cube" to store all your stuff, and an expandable inventory (purchased) with a bank of slots for each character (a nice ice touch for managing your flow of aether and ores).



It's hard to fault the mechanics and the lag I've encountered is pretty minor. Chat-filtering and block-lists - along with game channels - make the game an enjoyable play with pals.



All in all, I've been hooked on this for some weeks and can see I'd like to play this long term as it's fun and feels different from other similar MMORPGs.



It's a standout title all on its own - which is a good thing as it doesn't need the inevitable comparison with WoW.

Source: NZ Herald

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