a game by Ubi Soft
Platform: PC
Rating: 7/10

Does the world really need another online RPG? Well the folks at Wolfpack Studios certainly think so as they have created what they hope to be the next big thing when it comes to online adventuring. Shadowbane is the latest in the online RPG market and the game makers did their homework. The characters are there, the missions are there, as are all the little goodies you would expect from a game of this type. Unless the players sign up, however, the game will ultimately fail as the world has yet to be defined and the game's strong points discovered by the gaming public.

Shadowbane is obviously like Everquest and Asheron's Call in the sense that players run around in a fantasy world with swords and sorcery. All of these games involve missions, leveling up, and teaming up with other players in order to take full advantage of online gaming. Shadowbane also adds a couple other distinctive extras that players may enjoy, most notably the mix of characters/classes. With several standard races (humans, elves) and some not so standard (minotaurs, birdmen), players can pick from a whole set of professions (healers, warriors, etc.) but then get even more precise with disciplines. Disciplines are character traits that occur throughout the game when certain unrealized requirements are met. For example, should your character kill werewolves often enough, you could become known as a werewolf warrior which in turn gives you additional powers. The game is chock full of disciplines that truly make each character unique as they continue to adventure on.

Of course, as you progress, it will become necessary to team up with other players as it provides both protection from other roaming bands of players (yes, the game allows for virtual gangs to war against one another) and the means to defeat some of the game's tougher monsters.

If I had one big complaint (besides the normal quirks of relying on online servers to run proficiently) it would be the amount of on screen menus that pop up all the time, including pop ups that explain the other pop ups. It became frustrating as the menus are numerous, but necessary.

Graphically, the game is middle of the road. After playing Asheron's Call 2, it's easy to see that some corners were cut graphically to allow for a lower system requirement. Sprites are a little murky and the lighting is nothing to write home about. The same could be said for the audio.

A game for the serious online player who's willing to pay for a monthly fee to adventure in what is the most detailed (virtual world) game on the market right now. Whether you choose to build an empire, or go around assassinating other players, this game has it all.

Editor's Note: Disciplines are specific "runes" that drop from specific creatures. In order to get the Werewolf Discipline, you must find and kill "Mortis the Fell Spider". They are not arbitrarily awarded after killing a certain number of enemies. Additionally, after choosing one of the 10 races and choosing a class (Healer, Warrior, Mage or Rogue) you enter the game and progress to level 10. At level 10 you promote to one of 18+ professions. Upon reaching level 20, you can then apply up to 3 of the 26 discipline runes. These points were either incorrect or misleading in the above review. Many thanks to Josh N. for pointing out these discrepancies.

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