You’ve probably heard it many times and you’ll hear it again: MMORPG’s are the hardest games to write about. There are so many factors to be taken into consideration. The duration of the game also plays a factor. Considering how long it takes to reach the final level and the end-game content, it would have taken me months if i wanted to tell you every single detail about Aion. And i can’t do that. I have, however, tried almost everything NCSoft promised us..
Aion is a standard MMO from tail to toe. If you were expecting a revolution, take a hike. The first thing you are required to do is select a faction. Aion has three major factions in general – The beautiful, but arrogant Elyos, the powerful, but hateful Asmodians and the Balaur. The first two factions are the playable ones – the ones known as the Daeva. The daeva are ordinary human beings who awaken themselves and become demi-gods. The daeva are immortal, and have the ability to fly. The third faction are the Balaur. They are an NPC faction – you can’t play as a Balaur no matter how much you want to. Their role in the game is to serve as the balancing faction. If one of the two player factions happen to outnumber the other greatly or take too much control, the Balaur jump in and help the other. Cleaver idea. Moving on, you’ll be popped to select your class. The classes are four – Warrior, Mage, Scout and Priest. Next comes the character creation screen. I’ve already point out how great the editor is so i’ll just say a few words to the unfamiliar. The character generator is much more advanced than what you would normally see in any fantasy MMO. You can do pretty much everything. From pointy ears and tatoos to long legs and large.. eyes. When you finish creating your character and give him/her a heroic name(something like Smellster) you’ll find yourself in the starting zone of each faction – Poeta for the Elyos and Ishalgen for the Asmodians. Here you’ll learn the basics thanks to a very simple, but highly efficient tutorial and hop – you’ll start out. Aion offers two ways of controlling your character – through the direction keys or through the mouse. The first one is the default. If you want to control your character through the mouse you’ll have to scramble through the settings. The way from level 1 to level 10 is pretty straight forward. You’ll do a few quests, kill a few monsters, enjoy a few views and here comes the first major point in the game – the ascension to a Daeva. Now you have the choice of a second class – If you play Warrior you have the choice of either the Gladiator(classic warrior) or the Templar(tank class). If you are a Mage – Sorcerer(classic mage) or Spiritmaster(summoner). Scout – Ranger(archer) or Assassin(damage dealer) and Priest – Cleric(healer) or Chanter(buffer). Nothing out of the ordinary. Once you become a Daeva you will receive the ability to fly. If you were counting on this aspect of the game too much, chances are, you’ll end up being disappointed. At first you can only fly for one minute at most. With time you’ll increase this, but one minute means – no in air combat for a while. Sorry.
Aion mixes Asian MMORPG elements with western styles. What i mean by this is, the game gives much detail on PvP and grinding, but also offers you the classical “WoW” quest grind and is a lot easier than it’s predecessor – Lineage 2. The RPG system of Aion is simple. You learn skills through buying skillbooks. The level cap is level 50. Almost every piece of equipment can be upgraded through socketing it at the nearby store. Speaking of which, the game offers a very advanced(compared to other MMORPG’s) crafting system. The economy is also at a very good level and is very well balanced. In battle you will be constantly gasping when your character demonstrates extreme grace and beauty in using one of the many skills. Beyond that is the chain skill system. Every time you use a skill that unlocks a chain you will see a vertical roll of skills that you just unlocked. One click and your character will use one of these skills. If you’ve used a skill that unlocks a new set you will see the vertical roll get replaced by them. While chains are mostly used for showing off on the lower levels, in critical situations or in PvP your choice of skill could be the difference between loss or win. Chains balance the gameplay very well, not giving you access to your most powerful skills at first and it thumbs down, if not removes completely, the skill spam factor. Your primary sources of gold will be quests and trading. Doing a quest ears may earn you lots of gold you will get information about the reward of a quests before you take it so you don’t get disappointed. Speaking of disappointment, i expected at least some quests to be more interesting. Everything comes down to either finding X amount of a certain item or killing creatures and collecting items. There are some quests that involve you sticking your face in chests or other items that serve as holders but they start annoying you after completing such quests a few times. But that’s not all, NCSoft have taken the quest grind factor to a new level. There are certain quests that you can do over 200 times, in case you get tired of slashing monsters. The game is much harder and grindier than WoW, for example, but is made easier than Lineage 2, RF or every other korean MMO you can think of. NCSoft have been bragging about “combining east and west” for a long time and i’ve gotta hand it to them – they did. The salt of the game’s quest system are the mission quests. Those are special quests, made to be much more interesting and fun than the normal quests. They even have cutscenes. Unfortunately, they are rare. The PvP aspect of the game is also noob friendly, yet hardcores will love it. You can duel people everywhere, fight them in the Arena or the special mass PvP zone – the Abyss. The PvP is beautifully done and this is where all small details around the game come together – the choice of chains, items, stigmas and types of weapons are what determines you.
Once you reach level 25 you will have the option of going to the Abyss. The Abyss is the mass PvPvPvE(player-versus-player-versus-environment) zone of Aion. It’s broken down into several parts and is giant in terms of space. Scattered across the Abyss are fortresses – this is where you will face off against other factions for control over them. Each one gives a special benefit to the faction that owns it and participating in one of these battles earns you special artifacts who empower your character. This is where you will meet the third faction – the Balaur. They are quite tough to face off and guard every fortress well. They own special machinery such as flying ships and are nearly impossible to take on alone. I’ve said it before and i’m saying it again – teamwork is the key to victory! Once you take control over a fortress you will have to constantly defend it against enemy attacks. Yeah, just like the castles system in Lineage 2. Each life you take in the abyss will award you Abyss points. Those are your primary source for the best endgame loot. The divine points also play a part in the game’s PvP system. Each life you take will grant you divine points. Those points are later one used for casting extremely powerful skills like Celestial Word I. Divine points also give you a nice glow.
The biggest downside of Aion is, without a doubt, the fact that it takes ideas from other games just like WoW did for a certain victory. The team behind the game wanted to play it as safe as possible and kept consuming ideas from Lineage, Guild Wars, WoW and such. The other con of the game is that it shares the fate of almost every MMO – after a certain level you won’t find much to do and you’ll get bored quickly.
The technical side of Aion is one of the best in the genre. The Farcry engine(in it’s first edition) deals incredibly well. The design of everything is outstanding and the character models are the best I’ve seen in an MMORPG. I’m serious – the game will leave you breathless more than once. And at a surprisingly low price – Aion isn’t as resource hungry as you think. Soundtrack wise, Aion combines perfect music and amazing sound effects. It’s obvious the background music was done by professional musicians. A small minus is the fact, that the character voices are way too Asian.
Bottom line is – Aion is an MMO, that is polished to perfection. You can’t let the few flaws keep you from playing the MMO of the year. Currently, the game is your best bet of a beautifully done MMO experience.
Article from Gamersyndrome.com