Thursday, September 21, 2006

Next Up: Underwater Cyclist Online

So I take a month-long break, then miss a post only two weeks in. Only here at Avert Your Eyes folks, only here. Anyway, as was alluded to last week, this is going to be another Space Cowboy Online post. Take it or leave it - it's all you're getting.

My I-Gear has made its way to the not-so-stately level of 35, something that actually didn't take too long to happen. I've been playing casually at best, with only one long grinding session taking place over the weekend. Weapon drops, at least for me, have been plentiful enough - there's almost always been a new piece of gear a few levels away. Combine that with the skill upgrades, and you've got that whole Diablo II feeling, pushing you to progress.

The main reason this game has got such a hold on me is my recent introduction to the world of Nation Wars. Yes, I've managed to bag a few killmarks (an item that drops when you take down another player's gear), some quite a few levels above my own. It's a great feeling when, after firing off a few Edrills, you manage to take down the enemy gear that almost took you out in one hit. The fact that skill plays such an important part in combat levels the playing field considerably. No longer are you constantly killed by opposing players simply because they log on twice as much in a week as you do.

There, of course, is some bad that's crept up during my playing time. First, it's always annoying when the (much overpowered) enemy decides to invade the area you're currently attempting to level in. All too often will you be happily chasing down mobs when one missile, out of nowhere, turns your gear into a hulking wreck of smoke and metal. The other, far more annoying problem - present in every MMO out there - is the incessant bitching of other players. They get killed, it's your fault - you should have stopped grinding and joined the raid. I've heard this at least 20 times in my time playing, and I'm not exaggerating for effect.

That said, I'm still going to be playing SCO for quite some time, and I'm sure you're going to be hearing about it. Especially if you don't stop grinding and come to Bark City immediately.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Well, I'm Back

After a month long break I return, rested and refreshed, to the world of Avert Your Eyes. I'd been looking at Space Cowboy Online - a MMO/shooter hybrid - for quite some time now, as it seemed the sort of thing that would be right up my ally. This week I decided to take the plunge, and there is definitely a whole lot to like.

After spending more time patching the game client than I had spent downloading the 983MB installer, I finally made it to the character creation screen. The four "gears", as they're called, are SCO's equivalent of other MMO's classes. Only having four choices may seem limiting at first, especially since there is no branching out at later stages in the game, but different choices in equipment and stat point distribution can produce radically different characters. I, playing for the first time, decided to go for an I-Gear. After choosing your gear, you're introduced to the game's control system by a quick succession of tutorials.

After finishing the tutorial, you'll find yourself standing in Bygeniou city. This is where the game actually begins. You could just hit the Take Off button at this point and start taking out mobs left and right, but the game will take the liberty of offering you missions that help you level up a lot more quickly (I hit level 16 in my first session). These missions usually task you with killing a certain amount of a certain type of mob, but every now and then they mix it up by having you find some items laying around a map or (gasp!) fly through a cave.

The real time combat instantly makes the "grinding" inherent in every MMORPG much more enjoyable, simply because it's so fun. Barrel rolling to dodge enemy missiles and trying to get in to position to return a volley of your own is much more enjoyable than watching your character fight slowly, an eye on your skill refresh meter, wondering how it's possible for 15 seconds to last 30 seconds.

Unlike FlyFF (another GPotato game), which is fun but doesn't give you much motivation to level, Space Cowboy remedies the situation by offering up some very interesting PvP. Upon reaching level 11, you're offered the mission "Decision", which requires you to side with one of two warring nations: Bygeniou City United or Anti-National influence United (I picked the latter). This is the basis of the game's focus on large-scale PvP which, though I haven't yet participated, has got me very excited.

I've only seen a small portion of the game so far, so I'm going to wrap it up for this week. I'm sure that, as interested as I am here, I'll be writing about this one again.