Jason Weaver has taken a close look at NCSoft’s latest flagship title, Aion: The Tower of Eternity. Find out what he thinks about the game after the jump.
NCsoft has recently released their latest entry in the crowded fantasy MMO genre. Aion has some big shoes to fill, with all the hype and a large amount of pre orders the game received before launch.
Aion centers around the conflict between two races (the Elyos and the Asmodians) that live on the planet Atreia, which split apart in a cataclysm and now each race lives on their own half of the separated planet. The two races can meet in battle it out in world PvP in an area called the Abyss.
Aion has some very nice graphics with some of the most beautiful scenery seen in any MMO. The world looks alive with lush forests, lively lakes, and deadly swamps. Birds fly overhead and help add the feeling that players are in a living breathing world.
Animations are nicely done and the little things like the character becoming visibly exhausted as their health gets lower. Mobs will rub or slap their bellies or other little animations that help keep players immersed in the world. Cats move gracefully as they stalk their prey, Ox like creatures lumber along, and every other creature acts as you would assume.
Armor is very basic when you start out and as you level and buy or loot more it becomes cooler looking. Most pieces can be dyed with dye made by other users or bought at certain vendors found in the game. This helps players differentiate themselves from other players that are sporting the same armor. Another feature that Aion has is the ability to take a higher level piece of armor and make it look like a lower level piece.
So if you like your current armor and when upgrading don’t like the look of the new stuff as well, you can go to an NPC to change the higher level to look like the lower level armor.
The only drawback is you loose the older piece in the process. On a sde note, it would have been nice to see more variations in the look of armor; my character looked the same for over 10 level with little change in appearance.
Aion sports the usual UI as most MMOs, it doesn’t do anything to revolutionize the way the game is played but since it is practical this doesn’t detract from the game. There are all the normal options that let you move the health bars around as well as add more sidebars to the screen.
You have the option of using a quest tracker that allows you to see a good selection of quests on your screen while playing. This allows you to keep track of quest goals without having to switch back and forth between game play and the quest panel. You can also double click on a quest and it will open your quest panel allowing you to get further details. Another feature allows you to select certain words like places and NPC names and a waypoint added to your map.
This eliminates the need to search all over an area for your objective and does make the game easier as it saves you time.
Aion has four classes; warrior, scout, mage, and priest. Once you reach level 10 each class has the choice of two further classes to branch out to. The warrior can become a gladiator (melee DPS) or a templar (tank). The scout can branch out to an assassin (melee DPS) or a ranger (ranged DPS). The mage class has the options of a Spiritmaster (pet based caster) or a sorcerer (ranged spellcasting). Finally the priest can become a cleric (healer) or a chanter (support healer w/ buffs and melee DPS).
Aion allows you to create 8 characters per server so if you wanted to you could make one of each class.
Character creation is the first part of the game that you’ll see that really shines. The creator allows you to choose premade character builds or tweak your own for that perfect character. There are sliders that allow you to change every little part of the character and this in turn lets you pretty much make any kind of look you want. Players can even create pixie sized characters to large hulking alter egos; whatever character type one could think of can think of one can make. Once the player does select a server and choose which race they want they are locked into creating only characters of that race on that particular server. So in order to make a character of the opposing side one needs to change servers.
Once the character is made a short movie is played giving the outline of the main story once that is done, the player is free to begin their life. No matter what side the players chooses they are in for a very similar experience. There is basically no difference between the lands of each race. Both races start near farms and progress to a town move onto a lake area outside the town and then are shuffled off to a forest area and etc. Each side only has one starting area and this creates a serious sense of déjà vu and severely limits the replayability of the game.
Now onto the greatest feature found in Aion. Flight. Once the player reaches level 10, they gain the ability to fly. Flight is limited to certain areas and even then it has a timer that only allows flight for a short time. Even with these restrictions it is a great feeling to let open ones wings and jump into the sky and take flight. It would be nice to be able to fly in every zone but the restriction is there for a reason, without it quests would become too easy as one could just fly from point to point and bypass all the content in between.
Every couple levels players can buy new combat skills from the appropriate skill trainer. Prices for skill books start out low but ramp up as the levels increase. Skills are the standard “press this button” at this time to do this or that. There isn’t much innovation other than the fact that one can perform combos. Once a certain skill is used one can keep the combo going but only a few seconds is given to get the next button press in and keep it going. While combos help break up the monotony that most MMOs fall into when dealing with combat skills it still boils down to pressing the same buttons in order until the enemy is dead.
Continued on the next page.
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