Anarchy Online - Review

Anarchy Online - Review

By: Paul Johnson

Review Breakdown
   Battle System 7
   Interface 6
   Music/Sound 9
   Originality 10
   Plot 10
   Localization N/A
   Replay Value N/A
   Visuals 9
   Difficulty N/A
   Time to Complete

N/A hours


Title Screen

   I'm going to tell you right out, this isn't an RPG. This is a MMORPG. A bit longer than you expected? You bet. As the name implies, this game is played online with other players being visible. You can interact with them, talk to them, hunt with them, even fight them if you want. As this is an unconventional game, this will get an unconventional review. Many of the things that apply to regular RPGs will not apply to Anarchy Online (henceforth called Ao) and many things that apply to Ao will not apply to regular RPGs. Generally this is a fun, exciting, dynamic game. However, there are many unpolished corners and angry fans.

   This game is based in the year 29,475,thusly this is definetly a Sci-Fi game with a definite Sci-Fi feel to it. Humanity has left Earth and colonized the galaxy. On the planet Rubi-Ka in the far side of the Milky Way, the hypercorporation Omni-Tek has found a treasure trove of rare minerals. The rarest and most valuable of all is Notum, the mineral used to create nano bots that are necessary for Nano-Technology. Nano Technology uses hordes of extremely small nano bots to do things at the moleculor level. With this material, OT (Omni-Tek) became rich. After colonizing the planet with Ex Mars miners they made bucket loads of money. However, a large group of miners broke away from OT because of terrible treatment, and when this spark hit wood a flame arose. That flame is the Rebel Clans. It goes much deeper, but this is just the surface of the story. Basically you get to pick your allegiance.

   The battle system of Ao is the standard MMORPG fight system. Because it is online, there is no possibility of turn based combat. Instead it must be real time. Basically you simply target the enemy hit Q (auto-battle) and use your specials when they're availible. If you're a Nano Technician then you get to cast Nano Formulas which are basically this games version of spells. Nothing truly special about the fights in this game.

   The interface is at first clunky and foreboding, but you will warm up to it. Beneath it there is a nice amount of information that you can use and customize. Also, AO's music is absolutely gorgeous. The deep battle music invigorates you, the forest music charms you, the gregorian chant of Omni-1 Trade District sends chills down your spine... It's just great. The sound effects are of little consequence and notice. They're mellow average for games.

Transportation Of The Future
Transportation Of The Future 

   You can say that this game has a good deal of originality. For starters, this is the first Sci-Fi MMORPG - all the others are swords and sorcery, dungeons and dragons, medieval fantasy. Secondly, this is the first MMORPG to boast a storyline that can be influenced by the players. Most other games feel good for simply boasting a story! This story is presently unraveling at the moment, and first impressions are great. Another piece of originality is the unique class system. Every level you get X amount of IP points, which you then invest to raise your skills. The cost to raise certain skills depends upon your class and the skill level. There is also a cap to how much you can raise each skill per level. This allows for both unique characters and the cookie-cutter effect.

   Player to player interaction is handled well here. Funcom took a step further than other MMORPGs in this category. Most online games allow you to speak and then represent your actions through words (emotes, like *Kicks door down*). However, in Ao, certain actions can actually be done by typing /blahblahblah . Some actions are /wave, /strong1, /crossarms, and /laugh-s. Player to player interaction is furthered even more with the ability to have organizations/clans (Orgs for OT and clans for the rebel clans) which are permanent or temporary teams which are usually formed to hunt (Usually mutants and monsters but occasionally other players (=).

   There IS content in this game, prior to many people's views. Basically you hunt monsters on the mainland for exp and then do missions in between levels for money to upgrade armor and weapons. It'll get monotonous after a while, but trust me, its worth it. PvP (Player versus player) is actually quite fun in this game if you learn how to do it and do it well.

   The one major drawback to Ao is bugs. Bugs, bad nasty little critters crawling all over the program. However, Ao has hired a group of cyber-exterminators and the list of bugs is thinning each day. However, there are rumors that the programming office itself is infested as with each patch there are more of them... But they are fixing this bugs as we speak. It is alot better now than it was before. One final bug is in every online game, and its called 'Network Latency' and has been dubbed 'Lag'. This is basically a slowdown in the game caused by server and bandwidth overload. This is in every game but is especially bad here as everyone is crammed into 2 servers while most games are completely servered out with around 15 of them.

Twilight... Forest... These Situations Are Rarely Good.
Twilight... Forest... These Situations Are Rarely Good. 

   Ao's graphics are absolutely phenomenal. Outside, that is. With detailed textures, beautiful landscapes, and interesting monsters and baddies to fight it would destroy everything in its way in this category. It even has players that don't look deformed! *Gasp!* However, there is a drawback. The mission dungeons which are spawned with each mission are very, very, very, very bland. And you spend almost as much time in the missions as you do outside. If the mission dungeons weren't so bland then this would definetly win the graphics awards with room for a couch.

   Difficulty in this game was not well regulated. While a new person to the community would say the game is easy, you still haven't heard the whole story. As you approach level 100 the difficulty sky-rockets. It gets so hard that in 6 months only one person has hit the level 200 cap. And thats after 10 hours a day for 3 months non-stop. Another problem is that some classes have nothing to work with. Bureacrats (sp?) are just about nothing. Engineers have stronger pets, Nano Techs have stronger spells, and their 1-3% more exp spells do just about nothing.

   In the end, Ao is a nice game that is getting better with the hour. I play it often. If you can live with the lag and the bugs for a little while, then this will be a great game for you. Go to your local video game store and pick it up immediately! ^_^

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