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a game by NCSoft
Platform: PC (2008)
User Rating: 10.0/10 - 2 votes
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See also: Games with Character Creation, Best MMORPG

Apparently, crytek WERE stunned when they saw what Aion's development team had done with the CryEngine 1. After having seen it for ourselves, we can confirm that Aion is a looker, at least in MMO terms. Of course, the question is if it'll just be another utterly generic Korean grind-'em-up that only excels in boredom.

Well, while we can't obviously guarantee that it'll not be a tedious grindfest, the visual walkthrough we were given indicates that at the very least, a lot of time and effort has been put into trying to alleviate some of the problems most MMOs suffer from.

Tale Of Two Worlds

Aion's plot isn't ripping up the rulebooks in a frenzy of originality, but that's not necessarily a bad thing.

There are two playable factions, with an NPC one lurking in the game. The story's core involves a world broken in two, one faction on each bit The sun shines on the top bit so all the people there are buffed bronzed gods. The bottom half, where the sun rarely ventures, is shrouded in twilight, cold and snow. These guys are grumpy sods who need to be tough to survive. The developers stress, though, that neither faction is good or evil, they've just needed to adapt to their surroundings in different ways.

Once you've decided which faction to be, you'll get into the character creation screen, which is surely rivalling City of Heroes in its scope. Three hundred million different possibilities are apparently available and, such is the sheer weight of options available, you can even fashion your very own celebrity impersonation. We were told that Obama and Michael Jackson were just two of the ones the developers had come up with so far. Expect to bump into hundreds of Jackos in pointy armour as you progress through the game, then.

After spending a silly amount of time creating your character, you'll get into the main game. The developers inform me that they've been working very hard to make sure the initial landing is smooth and lag-free. Claims of 200 people in one early instance with no lag at all will only be verifiable when the game properly hits, but we'd like to believe they were true. Like Guild Wars and its ilk, new zones are created as people log in. Once one is maxed out another is created and so on, making sure people aren't crippled with lag the second they get into the game.

Combat will be dealt with in the usual manner - lots of buttons on increasing numbers of bars across the bottom of the screen. However, one interesting difference is the concept of chaining: select a low-level skill and then more powerful ones can then be used, depending on the links on a 'chain tree' the first one has. This skill can then unlock a high level one. If you happen to be carrying a shield, then a successful block will allow you to launch a counter-attack, and so on.

Pretty Fly

Another thing that differentiates Aion's combat from other games is the concept of flying. Not only does it allow for characters to use air-to-ground and ground-to-air attacks, you can battle other flying characters whilst in the air.

While flying isn't a new thing in MMOs - hell, even Second Life features it - in Aion it's going to be a lot more than just a way to get around the game world quickly.

All the usual favourites will be there -PvP, PvE and a new one, PvPvE - plus all the capital cities and quest hubs you could want or need.

The maximum level is 50 at the moment, with level 20 characters having access to the Stigma system, magic stones that grant non-class specific skills and abilities, like, say, healing powers for a warrior. These can't be changed on the fly, so you'll need to think about what you pick before venturing forth. There's also a way of turning into an powerful warrior, that will be able to take'on around 11 other players.

As for groups, they can be six strong, with multi-group raids of 24 people possible. As far as we can tell, none of the genre's staple features have been ignored.

We think Aion will be resolutely familiar territory for MMO players, but territory that will have the cracks and hollows of previous titles patched up somewhat with the degree of new ideas that have been crowbarred in. It remains to be seen how Aion plays, of course, but for now we're going to remain on the sunny side of things and be positive about it.

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System requirements:

  • PC compatible
  • Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP

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