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.

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