Friday, January 18, 2008

Mythos: I Drink It Up!

Found some spare time to play again the other day and, again, lost more time than I'd planned to what's shaping up to be an engrossing game. We've entered the "seen this already, done this before" stage of the game. The point where the groove is good and deep as I'm traveling well worn ground. I've settled into a steady diet of gathering quests to kill named monster or collect random drops, heading off to the nearest dungeons to do so, and gathering bigger and better gear to make it easier the next time. Steadily advancing in levels and skills, too, as I grow increasingly powerful in step with the challenges lain before me. Despite the promises of crafting and, possibly, PvP and other activities, regardless of the existence of new zones and towns and quests ahead of me, I don't expect there's going to be much else to do. The quests are pedestrian, monotonous in their uniformity (Although there was an interesting one that had you tracking through the wilderness to find some vanished NPCs that was a welcome break from all the dungeon crawling and fed ex quests. But, still, it involved hacking my way through an instance to a pre-defined encounter. Ended up with me winning over the skeptical law enforcement, an interesting bit of story, I thought, but that hasn't led anywhere. Yet.), and the only difference will be the tileset and monsters I'm slaying by the bucket full.

Which is fine, for me, since this isn't really the kind of game you play for the in-depth moving storyline with its deep exploration of a soul-shattering lore. The quests and characters are just there to hang the hacking and slashing on. And the game succeeds or fails based on whether that fast-paced action is actually fun. So far, it remains so.

Combat is fast and frenzied. Effects flashing all over the screen, creatures dying left and right, piles of gore and streamers of magic filling the screen. And that's just what I'm doing. When my foes get into the mix with their own special abilities then it's wall to wall chaos. And there's always something to do, something to try, as waves of information crash into my vision along with the eye-candy (The game runs even on the shittiest of shitboxes I've tried it on so far, meaning it has very low, very forgiving specs. A bit of frame rate troubles and the occasional graphical lag but considering the Commodore-like equipment I'm running it on, that's understandable. And I've turned down all my settings for performance, too. It's not the most graphically impressive game but it's still nicely done, with a lot of character, especially when you're zoomed into and watching action up close.). Whether it's a potion to chug or a skill I've suddenly realized is going to get me out of a jam, the game slams down the gas and doesn't let up.

Unless you want it to, because you can always break off, open up a portal, head back to town, or creep your way around, trying to pick your way through your enemies. I still have some issues with the game - the limited inventory and the lack of adequate respeccs still being the most pressing - but they're more than outweighed by what the game does well. It's a Diablo clone, in other words, but an exceptionally well-made one. I'm not sure whether I'd actually pay money for it, even on the Guild Wars Buy To Play model, even if it was fully polished with all the many now-absent features implemented. But since they're planning to give it away for free (The current plan, as I understand it, calls for offering a special item - currency really - for real life money at some form of online store. You go in, you buy these bars of gold pressed tokens or Mythos Tokens or whatever they'll wind up being and you can use those, in game, to buy certain prestige services, like changing your appearance or dying your armor and the like. But these items can also be freely traded so if you're unwilling to spend actual cash on those things you can also spend the time needed to get enough in-game money or items to exchange with someone who is. The idea being that the RMT aspect is going to be optional, cosmetic and not something essential to partake in the underlying gameplay. I'm not sure you can support a game on that kind of business model but I do like the sound and the spirit of it.), that's not going to be a dilemma I'll have.

I haven't had as much time to play as I've wanted, though. I'll hopefully have a bit more in the coming days. Lots of things I want to try out, skills and schemes and classes and more. One thing I have learned, though, in the limited amount of time I've spend already: I hate teleporting bosses.

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