Maximum OOM-age: October 2009

Maximum OOM-age

I have Mana-Management issues...And it's driving me to drink.

If Moonfire Spam has taken you to the same place as me, good luck.

Don't look at me for more pots, 'cos I ain't got none left and my Innervate's on CD.

 
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03 October 2009

From Azeroth to Atreia

AION009

One major lament I've always had of WoW is its lack of customisation. My idea of being totally immersed in RP involves living vicariously through the adventures of my AV, and it helps if she somewhat resembles me.

For quite a long while, I thought Second Life filled that niche. But the novelty soon wore off due to the complete absence of decent gameplay (and horrendous lag...never forget that), so post-SL saw me less bothered about what my character, or its environment, looked like.

Then along came Aion...the perfect answer to a WoW-SL mashup...or so I thought.

Let me first make this clear: my experience with the wonders of Atreia only extends so far as the final closed beta (yes, my response is slightly belated). And even then, it was towards the end of that period (shortly before it was officially released in Europe) that I finally got hold of a key, so it's unlikely major changes would have been made to its framework at that stage. Since then, I have ummed and ahhed about whether Aion justifies another monthly subscription, or if I would ever consider it an adequate replacement for my WoW fix.

My rig is still Aion-free...but this is not to say there aren't elements of the game that impress me.

The imagery and animation are certainly the most stunning I have ever seen in an MMORPG. But that's to be expected from any game using the CRY engine. It runs smoothly too, which is a great deal more than I can say about SL.

Despite criticism from other quarters, I haven't found the storyline uninteresting or unoriginal. It will no doubt grow in depth as the game matures. As yet, it has none of the quirks or humour that make a fantasy RPG come to life, giving it a unique identity. Not many games have that standing, and WoW is one of the few (mohawk, anyone?).

Barring a few tweaks here and there, much of Aion is borrowed from the World of Warcraft. There were moments when I forgot where I was, and stopped to wonder when WoW's graphics got so good...and then I realised - I'm not in Zangamarsh anymore.

As mentioned before, being able to customise the way you look, right down to matching gear, is a huge plus. David and I straightaway created AVs that looked like ourselves.

AION005

Well, sort of...David had greater success than I did since he says his features are more 'generic'...whatever that means. The options are not quite as varied as Second Life, but I still came away quite happy with the appearance of my character. Sadly, unlike SL (and similar to WOW), modifying your character will cost you, so best get it right to begin with.

There are a few other functions in Aion which I don't quite agree with, such as the way their chat channels work, and the inability to create a character in the opposing faction unless on a different server. How daft!!!

Combat flying is a bonus, but it did spark off a mini tantrum when I found out flight time was limited. You have to go through a process of quests, levelling, and Kinah-spending (Aion currency) to acquire an assortment of gear just so you can keep yourself in the sky for longer. Tsk tsk, you never have to worry about that in WoW! But on further thought, Aion's restrictions make sense. If flying is to be a crucial skill in the game, then it should require some effort.

You can't help but make comparisons with MMOs near and dear to your heart, and since WoW has such a massive following, it's inevitable that it would be used as a yardstick.

Better gamers than me have already highlighted the pros and cons (see links below) of Aion when pitted against the World of Warcraft. Character controls are
not as intuitive, while UI and game mechanics are clumsy. Although it does have a few features that can't be found in WoW (such as markings on the map to tell you where you need to go when you click on a quest, or the ease of sending locations to other players), it's nothing that WoW addons haven't already got covered.

Unfortunately, my income places limitations on the number of games I can play, so this is currently an either-or scenario. Both games share many similarities, but the differences aren't enough to make me want to jump ship. Aion simply isn't quite 'there' yet.

Blizzard doesn't appear worried, and this is telling. NCsoft can't have carved a large enough chunk out of its profits then. Aion may one day match up to the old guard WoW (though I doubt it will surpass it). Until then, I'll content myself with just the ambient tunes of Ryo Kunihiko.


Other Sources:
5 Reasons Why Aion Can Take on World of Warcraft
Impressions of Aion Closed Beta 3
10 Reasons Why Aion Will Fail

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