Thursday, October 25, 2007

It's Still Got Elves And Swords

I remember seeing ads for RF Online a while back and being slightly interested - science fiction themed MMOs are more appealing to me than your standard fantasy settings - but I wasn't quite interested enough to pay for it. It seems RF Online went free to play a few weeks ago, so I figured, hey, I'll check it out.

Upon launching the game, I was greeted by a weepy, sentimental sounding song. Do you really want to start your game this way? Anyway, beyond that, character creation was some pretty standard stuff. After creating your character there's the option to take a short tutorial. What the heck, I took it.

The tutorial really holds your hand. I mean, it shows you how to move the camera (move your mouse, tough to remember), open your inventory (press the "I" key) and target enemies (click on them). After than, you're somewhat unceremoniously dumped into the game world, and given a short series of quests that consist of clicking the "OK" button a few times. No, I'm not kidding.

RF Online is your standard MMO. Get quests (although you don't even need to seek out NPCs, the quests just appear on your screen), kill things to complete quests, repeat. Chances are you know the formula by now and you know whether or not you're likely to enjoy the game.

Despite everything I've said, I've actually enjoyed my (admittedly short) time in RF Online. It's a fine alternative to the other free to play MMOs out there, and a pleasent diversion. I don't know how long it's going to hold my attention, but it's far from a waste of time.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Waiting To Wait

When I first saw an entry on The Linux Game Tome for a new free-to-play MMORPG I was somewhat excited. For a long time it's basically been Eternal Lands and Planeshift. I like Eternal Lands, that's been established already, but I've played the hell out out of it. Planeshift, while I applaud its developers for making an open source MMO, just really isn't to the state where I find it playable to the point of being fun. So when Regnum Online entered the picture, of course I had to try it out.

First off, let it be known that you're going to be waiting. A lot. When I visited the download page and saw the installer was only around 1 megabyte, I knew there would be additional downloading in my future. After registering on the Regnum Online site and launching the, um, launcher, the download began, although it wasn't too long. I arrived at the character creation screen. Standard stuff. After creating my character, that's when the real downloading began.

It started off saying it had loaded 1 of 1000 or so resources, and that it was downloading about 30 resources. No big deal, I thought. Then each number started climbing. Not just what I had downloaded, but what was left to be downloaded. Eventually I was at 500 of 1200 resources downloaded, then 500 of 1300. After a while, the upper limits stopped increasing and I rode out the rest of the download. Finally I was in the game world. Sort of.

I was initially greeted with a sky, some hazy white geometry, and some green boxes. Must be a graphical glitch, I thought. That's when I noticed, in the upper left-hand corner of the screen, a progress bar. It was downloading, again. Then what the hell did I just download? I waited, and eventually, various textures started popping in to place. Overall, I'd say the wait was about 5-10 minutes.

Once I was finally into the game I was, well, underwhelmed. Barren landscapes, blocky looking characters, and poor performance. Oh, and weird controls. Like many MMORPGs, you can control the camera by holding the right mouse button and moving the mouse, while you move your character with either the arrow or WASD keys. The problem is, your character doesn't move relative to the camera, it moves relative to itself. So if you press the forward key, your character it going to move forward from its own point of view, not yours. So more often than not, you position the camera directly behind your character so movement doesn't feel awkward. This method works, but leaves you wondering why you can even move the camera in the first place.

Gameplay is your standard MMO combat. You click twice on an enemy, and wait until one of you falls down. Somehow, this feels even less fun than usual in Regnum Online, perhaps due to the slow speed of the combat. After making it this far, I'd almost had it. I decided to run to the biggest town on the starter island to see if it got any more interesting there. It didn't. I logged out, and deleted the game.

This is the bottom line: If you want a full 3D MMO on Linux that is fairly complete, well, now there is one. I didn't find it very fun, and maybe you won't either. But, hey, I've seen positive reviews, so maybe it just rubbed me the wrong way. Still, I doubt I'll ever touch Regnum Online again.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

A Match Made In Gaming Heaven

It's going to be a short post this week, folks. My shoulder has been hurting (which explains the lack of posts the last two weeks) and it's not going to hold up to typing for long. So here we go:

It seems that I finally have a reason to want a Wii. You might have seen a mention or two about Monster Hunter around here a while back, and I think my feelings about it were pretty clear. Hell, I like the game so much I'm still playing it. Sadly, its PS2 sequel never made it to the US, and since I'm PSP-less I've never had a change to try either of the Monster Hunter Freedom games.

I'd heard a little about Monster Hunter 3, but since it was unlikely I'd be able to afford a PS3 until the end of the decade, it still left me slightly heartbroken. And that's when the news broke. Not only is Monster Hunter 3 coming to the Wii, it's now a god damned Wii exclusive.

Those who've played the original know that a big part of Monster Hunter was its unique control system. Actions were mapped to the right analog stick rather than buttons. Now the control aspect of the game can be pushed even further. Monster Hunter 3 and the Wii are essentially a perfect match.

Now. Where the hell can I find a Wii?