To kick this off, let us begin with an introduction. My name is Chuck Bergeron, and my main role around here for the past nine months has been updating the media sections for games. I'll also be joining a few other staffers when we take the annual trip to LA for this year's E3 Expo. My goal for this year's E3 will be to keep everyone updated through previews, media, and E3 journal updates. But for now, let's take a look at Lineage II: The Chaotic Chronicle.
I don't know if it's just my personal experience with Korean titles, but from what I've seen in Risk Your Life and the Lineage series there's a distorted perspective on a few of your regular RPG elements. When I began creating my character, I was faced with a quaint selection of races: Humans, Orcs, Elves, Dark Elves, and Dwarves. To stick with my roots, I opted for the shortest of the lot. To my surprise, the female Dwarf resembled any generic anime character aged 16-25. While the male choice was a stout, bearded warrior in the age range of 50-60. With little aesthetic customization, I felt limited in my attempt to be an individual. Many of you may very well embrace this different style as a refreshing change from your typical run of the mill MMORPG, but personally it threw me off. The feel of the game started off warped.
You begin as either a warrior or magic user, then branch off to other occupations while progressing in levels. This starts the low levels off in a very straight forward manner, and every other newbie running past you seems like a clone. The combat system is quite simple, especially for the warrior type. Click twice on the enemy, battle ensues. As your kills pile up, so does your Skill Points (SP). These wonderful numbers dictate your ability to learn new skills at various Trainers.
As far as the game's interface is concerned, initially the game didn't feel ready for a North American release. HP, MP, and Experience all have numeric values, but seem quite static in the beginning. Experience is represented as a percentage and rounded off to two decimal places (making for a very precise system to inform the player). What I disliked about this numerical system, was that with each kill I made I received the same amount of experience and SP for that level. Without the dynamic of each enemy being random in skill I felt the reptition taking hold. Text windows were easily conformed to the screen, but felt quite clunky. Text was cut off on poor attempts at word wrapping and fitting English into the menus. Do keep in mind this game was designed for another language, and future patches may fix the seemingly horrible job at English display. When it comes down to it, it's always the little things which count the most. But the little things weren't polished, and I was quite disappointed.
The greatest upside to MMO titles can sometimes also be their greatest downside. The developers ability to release fixes and new content for the game after release is a greatly enjoyed feature among many players, however when the developers abuse this method and release a game unfinished it can make for some frustrating times. With the game being released at the end of this month, I wasn't expecting to run into any bugs which were great enough to hinder my playing experience. During the first hour of playing Lineage II, I found myself stuck inside a house with two doors. Both doors would not allow me to return to the snowy outside world, and I found myself annoyed having to compete with such a simplistic error.
Lineage II is a player vs. player driven title. This option has really been a key factor in determing what type of MMORPG a game is, if it has constant PvP rules or not. Many titles have failed at the attempt of having a persistent PvP environment, but many have succeeded as well. Games such as Ultima Online have switched their system over time, allowing for a certain nation to be PvP specific or completely friendly. I didn't go into any detail testing Lineage II's player vs. player rules, since I've never been one for all-out MMO war. But this may be the complete deciding role in wanting to pay a monthly fee for Lineage II or not. To each his own.
To continue creating a solid Massively Multiplayer experience, especially in an already over-populated market proves to be a tricky feat for any company. Where each title must find it's niche. Lineage II definitely has aspects which will appeal to some, but with World of Warcraft's quest-driven system, or EverQuest II's spectacular graphics, voiceover dialogue and dungeon instancing, I felt that what this game had to offer me falls short when contrasted with it's competition. However, the potential is there for Lineage II to gain a certain cult following, espcially in it's home country.