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    Aion: Ascension

    Game » consists of 4 releases. Released Sep 22, 2009

    Aion: Tower of Eternity is an MMORPG by NCSoft with a unique PvPvE system using the first CryEngine. Originally released in Korea, it was relaunched for China, Japan, Taiwan, North America and Europe in 2009.

    AION: Tower of Eternity Video Review

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    Saieno

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    Edited By Saieno

    Feel free to read the written review for AION: Tower of Eternity on GiantBomb

      


    NCSoft is a company you either love or hate, and for the most part I'm not a fan of NCSoft. They certainly take chances with some of the MMOs they publish, but there are more disappointments than treasures. Lineage was the first game released by NCSoft in 1998, and was a great game at the time. When Lineage II released in 2004, it felt like the series had taken two steps backwards. Set 150 years before Lineage and sporting impressive 3D graphics, the character creation and gameplay were both just extremely limited. City of Heroes, which was also released in 2004, was a title I was ambitiously following. I had hero concepts made and participated on the forums, but once the game released and the thrill of creating a hero wore off the game just couldn't hold up for me.

    Guild Wars was released in 2005 and marketed itself as an 'MMORPG without the subscription'. This always bugged me, since the 'MMO' aspect was nothing more than a city hub in the style of the Diablo 2 lobby. Aside from the false marketing, there was no jumping and many invisible walls, which made the fairly short journey to level twenty feel even more limited and linear. NCSoft really started getting on my bad side when they shut down Auto Assault, an awesome post-apocalyptic vehicular combat MMO, released in 2006 and closed shortly after in 2007. Later in 2007 Tabula Rasa was released and had a similar feel to Auto Assault, but of course was closed in early 2009. Both Auto Assault and Tabula Rasa were amazing games that I really enjoyed, but to NCSoft they just didn't have enough development to fulfill their potential. So after all of these disappointments, I promised myself I wouldn't play another NCSoft game no matter how good it looked....

    AION was announced on May 2006 along with a preview at the Electronic Entertainment Expo. I was reluctant to care since it was coming from NCSoft, shrugging it off as another Lineage II style game with shallow game play and nice graphics. In the months following, trailers were released which looked great but again I had absolutely no interest in falling for a game that NCSoft was publishing. I hadn't heard about AION again until April 2009 when the Chinese version was released, so I decided to at least give it a try so I could back up any negative critique I may have about the game. To my complete and utter disbelief, AION: The Tower of Eternity, is likely the most fulfilling and enjoyable experience I've ever had in an MMO. It's clear that NCSoft has spent lots of time on every facet of AION, from the smallest of details, to the story, all the way down to the method of payment. After it's numerous failures, it's finally time NCSoft got one right, and it seems like they know it's good.



    Let me just get this out of the way, AION is an incredibly gorgeous game in both visuals and sound. The game uses a heavily modified version of the CryEngine, and the presentation as well as the performance is unlike anything I've seen in an MMO. The world has a grand scale, and the idle animations are based on your surroundings. If it's raining your character will hold an elephant ear leaf, if you're in the water it'll reach down and grab a fish out of the water, and there's something different for every environment. The music is beautifully composed by Ryo Kunihiko, whose most notable works were the soundtracks to The Twelve Kingdoms and Emma. The world of Ateria and the music go so well together to create a mood, that you hardly ever notice it's there. The interface is also wonderfully done, and works to complement the gameplay experience rather than control it. The heads-up display is defaulted at the bottom, but you can move it to the top which you might be more accustom to.

    In AION you start off by choosing a faction, either the light influenced Elyos or the dark influenced Asmodians. This isn't to say that the Elyos are good and the Asmodians evil, but reflects the side of Ateria they were born and raised on. Once you choose a faction, you're asked to choose from one of four basic archetypes: Warrior, Scout, Mage, and Priest. Warriors excel at heavily armored close-quarters combat, and can later specialize in Gladiator or Templar. The Gladiator is a heavily armored close combat DPS class that can use a large range of weapons, while the Templar is a heavily armored tanking class with the ability to use protection chants. Scouts combine agility with swift attacks, and can later specialize in Ranger or Assassin. The Ranger has many varied long range attacks and has the ability to use traps, while the Assassin sneaks around and strikes without being detected.

    The Mage is physically weak but casts devastatingly powerful magic, and can specialize in Spiritmaster or Sorcerer. The Spiritmaster can summon and control the four elements (Air, Earth, Fire, and Water), while the Sorcerer uses the four elements in long-ranged magical combat. The Priest can use healing, self-protection, melee combat, and ranged magic attacks, and later specializes in Cleric or Chanter. The Cleric is your main healer and protector, while the Chanter is a healer but with emphasis on buffing and fortification. The Elyos and Asmodian classes are the same, though armor and weapon styles differ between the two races. This is where my only complaint comes in, as you don't have much control over differentiating your character from another of the same class. In a small attempt to remedy this, AION has Stigma which are five slots that allow you to place the ability of another class into each one starting at level 20. It's mainly intended to surprise enemies in PVP combat, as you won't know which special abilities the player is capable of using.

    Once you have your class selected, you'll be brought to the character creation screen. You have full control over your character, with sliders to modify the head and body however you want. If you're looking to get right into the game without creating a character, AION provides a number of pre-made character appearances that you can edit or use as is. The number of available options is impressive, especially since every face, hairstyle, beard, and tattoo is viable and stylish. When you get into the advanced options of the face and body, you can literally make any character you can think of. From a child to a giant to a freak, it's all up to you and AION gives you the tools to easily get it done. The customization doesn't end there though as you're able to alter the color of your equipment, and use any weapon or armor style you like to craft with the stats of a different item. This allows you to control the look of your equipment without sacrificing better stats of an item you might find visually unappealing.



    When you finally enter the game you may be tempted to start killing everything you see, or blindly accept quests and focus on what needs to get done. If you do either of these you'll be missing out on the amazing story that AION provides. Every mission, quest, and NPC is aware of what is going on in the world, which means everything you do carries with you on your journey. There's conflict in the world of Ateria, and all of the quests and missions you receive will be directly related to this conflict. On the Elyos side you have the Kobolds and Krall that are attempting to refine Odium, while the Mumu and Mau work to refine Odella on the Asmodian side. The conflicts are similar, but the differences between the Elysos and Asmodian campaign are in the details. Your character also has a personal journey to uncover their past or future, depending on which race you choose to play as. Some quest descriptions can go on five to six pages, but it's worth taking in every detail the AION developers worked so hard to create. If you choose not to read everything, you may get stuck on some quests as the key to completing them can only be found in the initial quest description when you accept it.

    Combat in AION is nicely paced and visually exciting, especially once skill chains are presented to your character. Skill chains are combos that can only be used by linking together skills in a particular order, or once certain prerequisites have been met. Some skill chains can branch into alternate combos, which can be more useful in certain situations. To obtain these and other skills, you'll have to visit a trainer and purchase skill books from them. You can buy them regardless of level as long as you have the funds, that way you can have the skill books on hand if you're close to leveling. Another aspect to combat is Divine Power, also known as DP, which you're able to use once you become a Daeva at level 10. DP is accumulated over time by killing monsters, and is used to cast powerful class-specific abilities. These can range from a helpful heal to a massive burst of damage, but the rate at which DP accumulates keeps these skills from being over powered.

    Aside from Divine Power, you also get the ability to fly at level 10. Flying in AION plays a huge part in the experience as you continue to level up and move to new areas, but you can only stay airborne for a minute before falling. In the first combat area you visit as a Daeva, either Verteron or Altgard, you'll be able to fly freely. You get some practice flying from the quests and materials in the area, such as gathering Aether or finding a fossil in the cliff wall. You'll also get your first taste of aerial combat here, but keep in mind that flight can be deadly if you aren't mindful of the timer. You can't fly in every area, but you can still use your wings to glide down hills and cliffs. Gliding is easy to use but hard to master, and when you get the hang of it you can cover impressive distances. You can upgrade your wings later on to increase your flight time, but these wings can be very costly and can't be equipped until level 30.

    As a Daeva you can also take up crafting in the main city, Sanctum or Pandemonium depending on your faction. There are 6 production professions: Weapon-smith, Armor-smith, Tailoring, Alchemy, Handyman, and Chef; and 2 extracting professions: Materials and Aether. You can master all the professions if you have the money, and work orders are available to help you level them. Work Orders are profession specific quests that give you a temporary recipe and the materials to make it, minus the fuel. As you level your chosen profession, you'll be able to buy recipes from a profession specific supplier.

    The act of crafting and gathering in AION is simple, but quite rewarding and can be a relaxing experience. When you begin to craft or gather, a Pass/Fail meter will appear and begin to figure the odds automatically. Sometimes you can get critical passes and fill an entire bar instantly, and I'll note that I've never gotten a critical failure so I'm not sure if they exist. While crafting or gathering you also have a random chance to obtain a rare version of the item you're trying to obtain. It's not clear what triggers this, but I've heard DP plays a part though it could be completely random.



    When you get around level 25, you'll start making your way into the PVP area known as the Abyss. The abyss is a dark and twisted wasteland of past wars, where there's no flight timer and legions capture castles from the opposing faction. Participating in PVP will reward you with increased ranks as you battle against fellow players, changing the appearance of your wings to reflect your status. Also while fighting against other players in PVP, you'll receive points that can be used to purchase high-end armor and weapons. Joining a Legion, AIONs version of a guild, will not only give you other players to group with but will also yield rewards while your legion holds a castle in the Abyss. As the legion levels up, you'll be able to create legion capes from a variety of styles, and even upload your own custom made images to display on the back.

    AION is an amazing game, and for me it's biggest innovation is the price model. Usually the price models for MMOs are either subscription based or free to play with cash shop, but AION doesn't use either of them. Instead you pay for the time you want to play, which some may love and others hate. Your average MMO subscription is about $15.00 for a month of play time, but when you aren't playing you're still paying for that time. I play an MMO about 30 hours a week, so the other 138 hours in that week are just going to waste.

    I've spent $8.00 on AION for 104 hours of game time, which after two weeks of playing still has about 40 hours left. When I'm not playing my time is still there, so when I want to take a break for a month or so my time will still be there when I get back. I'll give you another example. $18.00 will get you 205 hours, and to use up all of that time you'd have to play nearly 8 hours a day, everyday for a month. $35.00 will get you 410 hours, and to use up all of that time you'd have to play nearly 5 hours a day, everyday for three months. The more time you buy, the less per 2 hour unit you pay so buy in bulk.

    AION is amazingly easy to try, and free to download. There's a 6 hour game time trial and is probably the most enjoyable MMO you'll ever play. Of course this is strictly speaking of the Chinese release so all of this is subject to change for the US release, but either way this game shouldn't be missed.
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    Saieno

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    #1  Edited By Saieno

    Feel free to read the written review for AION: Tower of Eternity on GiantBomb

      


    NCSoft is a company you either love or hate, and for the most part I'm not a fan of NCSoft. They certainly take chances with some of the MMOs they publish, but there are more disappointments than treasures. Lineage was the first game released by NCSoft in 1998, and was a great game at the time. When Lineage II released in 2004, it felt like the series had taken two steps backwards. Set 150 years before Lineage and sporting impressive 3D graphics, the character creation and gameplay were both just extremely limited. City of Heroes, which was also released in 2004, was a title I was ambitiously following. I had hero concepts made and participated on the forums, but once the game released and the thrill of creating a hero wore off the game just couldn't hold up for me.

    Guild Wars was released in 2005 and marketed itself as an 'MMORPG without the subscription'. This always bugged me, since the 'MMO' aspect was nothing more than a city hub in the style of the Diablo 2 lobby. Aside from the false marketing, there was no jumping and many invisible walls, which made the fairly short journey to level twenty feel even more limited and linear. NCSoft really started getting on my bad side when they shut down Auto Assault, an awesome post-apocalyptic vehicular combat MMO, released in 2006 and closed shortly after in 2007. Later in 2007 Tabula Rasa was released and had a similar feel to Auto Assault, but of course was closed in early 2009. Both Auto Assault and Tabula Rasa were amazing games that I really enjoyed, but to NCSoft they just didn't have enough development to fulfill their potential. So after all of these disappointments, I promised myself I wouldn't play another NCSoft game no matter how good it looked....

    AION was announced on May 2006 along with a preview at the Electronic Entertainment Expo. I was reluctant to care since it was coming from NCSoft, shrugging it off as another Lineage II style game with shallow game play and nice graphics. In the months following, trailers were released which looked great but again I had absolutely no interest in falling for a game that NCSoft was publishing. I hadn't heard about AION again until April 2009 when the Chinese version was released, so I decided to at least give it a try so I could back up any negative critique I may have about the game. To my complete and utter disbelief, AION: The Tower of Eternity, is likely the most fulfilling and enjoyable experience I've ever had in an MMO. It's clear that NCSoft has spent lots of time on every facet of AION, from the smallest of details, to the story, all the way down to the method of payment. After it's numerous failures, it's finally time NCSoft got one right, and it seems like they know it's good.



    Let me just get this out of the way, AION is an incredibly gorgeous game in both visuals and sound. The game uses a heavily modified version of the CryEngine, and the presentation as well as the performance is unlike anything I've seen in an MMO. The world has a grand scale, and the idle animations are based on your surroundings. If it's raining your character will hold an elephant ear leaf, if you're in the water it'll reach down and grab a fish out of the water, and there's something different for every environment. The music is beautifully composed by Ryo Kunihiko, whose most notable works were the soundtracks to The Twelve Kingdoms and Emma. The world of Ateria and the music go so well together to create a mood, that you hardly ever notice it's there. The interface is also wonderfully done, and works to complement the gameplay experience rather than control it. The heads-up display is defaulted at the bottom, but you can move it to the top which you might be more accustom to.

    In AION you start off by choosing a faction, either the light influenced Elyos or the dark influenced Asmodians. This isn't to say that the Elyos are good and the Asmodians evil, but reflects the side of Ateria they were born and raised on. Once you choose a faction, you're asked to choose from one of four basic archetypes: Warrior, Scout, Mage, and Priest. Warriors excel at heavily armored close-quarters combat, and can later specialize in Gladiator or Templar. The Gladiator is a heavily armored close combat DPS class that can use a large range of weapons, while the Templar is a heavily armored tanking class with the ability to use protection chants. Scouts combine agility with swift attacks, and can later specialize in Ranger or Assassin. The Ranger has many varied long range attacks and has the ability to use traps, while the Assassin sneaks around and strikes without being detected.

    The Mage is physically weak but casts devastatingly powerful magic, and can specialize in Spiritmaster or Sorcerer. The Spiritmaster can summon and control the four elements (Air, Earth, Fire, and Water), while the Sorcerer uses the four elements in long-ranged magical combat. The Priest can use healing, self-protection, melee combat, and ranged magic attacks, and later specializes in Cleric or Chanter. The Cleric is your main healer and protector, while the Chanter is a healer but with emphasis on buffing and fortification. The Elyos and Asmodian classes are the same, though armor and weapon styles differ between the two races. This is where my only complaint comes in, as you don't have much control over differentiating your character from another of the same class. In a small attempt to remedy this, AION has Stigma which are five slots that allow you to place the ability of another class into each one starting at level 20. It's mainly intended to surprise enemies in PVP combat, as you won't know which special abilities the player is capable of using.

    Once you have your class selected, you'll be brought to the character creation screen. You have full control over your character, with sliders to modify the head and body however you want. If you're looking to get right into the game without creating a character, AION provides a number of pre-made character appearances that you can edit or use as is. The number of available options is impressive, especially since every face, hairstyle, beard, and tattoo is viable and stylish. When you get into the advanced options of the face and body, you can literally make any character you can think of. From a child to a giant to a freak, it's all up to you and AION gives you the tools to easily get it done. The customization doesn't end there though as you're able to alter the color of your equipment, and use any weapon or armor style you like to craft with the stats of a different item. This allows you to control the look of your equipment without sacrificing better stats of an item you might find visually unappealing.



    When you finally enter the game you may be tempted to start killing everything you see, or blindly accept quests and focus on what needs to get done. If you do either of these you'll be missing out on the amazing story that AION provides. Every mission, quest, and NPC is aware of what is going on in the world, which means everything you do carries with you on your journey. There's conflict in the world of Ateria, and all of the quests and missions you receive will be directly related to this conflict. On the Elyos side you have the Kobolds and Krall that are attempting to refine Odium, while the Mumu and Mau work to refine Odella on the Asmodian side. The conflicts are similar, but the differences between the Elysos and Asmodian campaign are in the details. Your character also has a personal journey to uncover their past or future, depending on which race you choose to play as. Some quest descriptions can go on five to six pages, but it's worth taking in every detail the AION developers worked so hard to create. If you choose not to read everything, you may get stuck on some quests as the key to completing them can only be found in the initial quest description when you accept it.

    Combat in AION is nicely paced and visually exciting, especially once skill chains are presented to your character. Skill chains are combos that can only be used by linking together skills in a particular order, or once certain prerequisites have been met. Some skill chains can branch into alternate combos, which can be more useful in certain situations. To obtain these and other skills, you'll have to visit a trainer and purchase skill books from them. You can buy them regardless of level as long as you have the funds, that way you can have the skill books on hand if you're close to leveling. Another aspect to combat is Divine Power, also known as DP, which you're able to use once you become a Daeva at level 10. DP is accumulated over time by killing monsters, and is used to cast powerful class-specific abilities. These can range from a helpful heal to a massive burst of damage, but the rate at which DP accumulates keeps these skills from being over powered.

    Aside from Divine Power, you also get the ability to fly at level 10. Flying in AION plays a huge part in the experience as you continue to level up and move to new areas, but you can only stay airborne for a minute before falling. In the first combat area you visit as a Daeva, either Verteron or Altgard, you'll be able to fly freely. You get some practice flying from the quests and materials in the area, such as gathering Aether or finding a fossil in the cliff wall. You'll also get your first taste of aerial combat here, but keep in mind that flight can be deadly if you aren't mindful of the timer. You can't fly in every area, but you can still use your wings to glide down hills and cliffs. Gliding is easy to use but hard to master, and when you get the hang of it you can cover impressive distances. You can upgrade your wings later on to increase your flight time, but these wings can be very costly and can't be equipped until level 30.

    As a Daeva you can also take up crafting in the main city, Sanctum or Pandemonium depending on your faction. There are 6 production professions: Weapon-smith, Armor-smith, Tailoring, Alchemy, Handyman, and Chef; and 2 extracting professions: Materials and Aether. You can master all the professions if you have the money, and work orders are available to help you level them. Work Orders are profession specific quests that give you a temporary recipe and the materials to make it, minus the fuel. As you level your chosen profession, you'll be able to buy recipes from a profession specific supplier.

    The act of crafting and gathering in AION is simple, but quite rewarding and can be a relaxing experience. When you begin to craft or gather, a Pass/Fail meter will appear and begin to figure the odds automatically. Sometimes you can get critical passes and fill an entire bar instantly, and I'll note that I've never gotten a critical failure so I'm not sure if they exist. While crafting or gathering you also have a random chance to obtain a rare version of the item you're trying to obtain. It's not clear what triggers this, but I've heard DP plays a part though it could be completely random.



    When you get around level 25, you'll start making your way into the PVP area known as the Abyss. The abyss is a dark and twisted wasteland of past wars, where there's no flight timer and legions capture castles from the opposing faction. Participating in PVP will reward you with increased ranks as you battle against fellow players, changing the appearance of your wings to reflect your status. Also while fighting against other players in PVP, you'll receive points that can be used to purchase high-end armor and weapons. Joining a Legion, AIONs version of a guild, will not only give you other players to group with but will also yield rewards while your legion holds a castle in the Abyss. As the legion levels up, you'll be able to create legion capes from a variety of styles, and even upload your own custom made images to display on the back.

    AION is an amazing game, and for me it's biggest innovation is the price model. Usually the price models for MMOs are either subscription based or free to play with cash shop, but AION doesn't use either of them. Instead you pay for the time you want to play, which some may love and others hate. Your average MMO subscription is about $15.00 for a month of play time, but when you aren't playing you're still paying for that time. I play an MMO about 30 hours a week, so the other 138 hours in that week are just going to waste.

    I've spent $8.00 on AION for 104 hours of game time, which after two weeks of playing still has about 40 hours left. When I'm not playing my time is still there, so when I want to take a break for a month or so my time will still be there when I get back. I'll give you another example. $18.00 will get you 205 hours, and to use up all of that time you'd have to play nearly 8 hours a day, everyday for a month. $35.00 will get you 410 hours, and to use up all of that time you'd have to play nearly 5 hours a day, everyday for three months. The more time you buy, the less per 2 hour unit you pay so buy in bulk.

    AION is amazingly easy to try, and free to download. There's a 6 hour game time trial and is probably the most enjoyable MMO you'll ever play. Of course this is strictly speaking of the Chinese release so all of this is subject to change for the US release, but either way this game shouldn't be missed.
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    Saieno

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    #2  Edited By Saieno

    Did I post this in the wrong section or no one really that interested?

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    Video_Game_King

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    #3  Edited By Video_Game_King
    Saieno said:
    Did I post this in the wrong section or no one really that interested?
    Don't worry, nobody gives a crap about my blogs, too. (Unless I'm bashing a game, in which case they say that I hate every game I play, despite posting blogs about games I love. Just something strange I noticed/crap advice :P.)
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    trophyhunter

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    #4  Edited By trophyhunter

    I don't care because I never heard of that game

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    NinjaSquirrel

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    #5  Edited By NinjaSquirrel

    I heard of that game before, but didn't really think it looked all that great. But now it looks raw. Nice review dude. Does it have very high system requirements?

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    zityz

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    #6  Edited By zityz

    It looks nice, but it also reminds me of Linage 2 or a MUCH more polished Perfect World.  I probably wont get into this because I'm so burnt out on MMOs looking at one just really doesnt excite me anymore. That and I find that there is way too many flooding the market now to want to care.

    However For a priceing model, that is a very good way to do it. I like how you don't get charged for the tim your not playing so you can have an actual social life outside of playing and feel as if your not married to the game. Also helps if you go on vacation for a week your week isn't used up.

    Now that that game will have a release soon. Maybe NCSoft will allow Anet to show off one gw2 screenshot. In which to me seams like the Duke Nukem Forever of MMOs as in over two years theyve shown nothing on the game at all what-so-ever except a "yea we're still making it".

    Looks good though for anyone who wants to try out a new MMO, me like I said have no intention to ever play it, but I can appreciate the ideals the music and the visuals of that game as it looks rather well made and polished.

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    Psyx2

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    #7  Edited By Psyx2

    Good review. I tried the beta about a week ago, but then my account stopped working. Apparently there's some sort of parental lock that's on by default that limits how much you can play it, but because the sites are in chinese I don't know how to disable it.

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    VitaminWaterYum

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    #8  Edited By VitaminWaterYum

    How are you reviewing a game that is only out in like korean beta? :|

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    jakob187

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    #9  Edited By jakob187

    It looks pretty damn sweet!!!  Unfortunately, I'm done with MMO games for a while.  =  /  I just need more variety in my games instead of dedicating so much time to one game.  Nonetheless, I'm sure I'll check this out sometime in the future, especially if they offer up a free trial of some sort.

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    Saieno

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    #10  Edited By Saieno
    NinjaSquirrel said:
    Does it have very high system requirements?
    Actually no. I have a pretty average system (about 4 years old, 7900GTX video card) and it runs at maxed settings 1080p resolution, above 100+ FPS consistently. I was impressed with the performance, since if you can run Perfect World then you can run AION with no problem.

    VitaminWaterYum said:
    How are you reviewing a game that is only out in like korean beta? :|
    The game is out in Korea and China, so I played the Chinese Release with an English translation.
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    Vision

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    #11  Edited By Vision

    That pricing model is extremely smart and i can't wait to get my hands on the game myself.

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    VitaminWaterYum

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    #12  Edited By VitaminWaterYum
    Saieno said:
    NinjaSquirrel said: Does it have very high system requirements? Actually no. I have a pretty average system (about 4 years ... [more]
    Ah, I was under the impression that it was still in beta there. Been kinda wanting to play the open beta for this for awhile now >.<
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    zitosilva

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    #13  Edited By zitosilva

    That was a pretty good review. But unfortunately, MMOs a not my thing, so I won't try it out. But you almost had me there.

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    NinjaSquirrel

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    #14  Edited By NinjaSquirrel
    Saieno said:
    NinjaSquirrel said: Does it have very high system requirements? Actually no. I have a pretty average system (about 4 years ... [more]
    Oh. Sweet. I might play it, because the pricing model's cool and I really like NCsoft games. =)
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    Saieno

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    #15  Edited By Saieno
    zitosilva said:
    That was a pretty good review. But unfortunately, MMOs a not my thing, so I won't try it out. But ... [more]
    Well thanks haha. I actually found it to play more like a console RPG that's online, but again if that's not your thing then I'm not here to convince you to play it lol.
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    makari

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    #16  Edited By makari

    I wasn't that impressed much by Aion when I played in the Chinese beta. It has all the trappings of a Korean MMO that's trying to be a little bit more like a western MMO, but doesn't really get it. The game is beautiful, and sounds great, and it runs very well for the visual quality, even if there are alot of people in one place at a time. Other than that, the game is a passable and mildly enjoyable MMO.

    One of the big touted features of Aion, the flying, is more annoying than it is fun. You're restricted to certain areas, so you can't fly wherever you please. The time limit on flying is incredibly short, and you'll find yourself scurrying to land in a safe spot to land and sit there doing nothing for a while shortly after you take off. The stop-start nature of flying makes doing quests and gathering that require flight more arduous and time consuming than they really should be. You can extend the time later, but alot of the time the same situation stands, only the short 'bunny-hops' cover slightly more ground before you have to hit the 'oshit' button and scurry for land before you fall to your death, losing exp in the process.

    The combat in Aion, like the flying, is also very stop-start. The skill animations are flashy and look great, but the flow of fights is very deiberate and robotic, and as a result the feel of battle is very stiff. Coming from a game like WoW or WAR, which are very tactile and mobile combat animations and controls that flow fairly well at a quick pace, combat in Aion feels more like an MMO designed around standing around and wailing on things in PvE than any find of fast paced PvP. Your characters unsheathing animation also completely stops the characters movement for the duration of the animation, and while it may seem like a little thing on paper it gets very annoying when you are used to more instant and mobile unsheathe animations like those in WoW or WAR. It's most annoying in PvP, where you'll need to be pressing the 'draw weapon' key over and over so you aren't hit with a debilitating 2 seconds or so of redundant animation blocking you from reacting right away when walking around the abyss and someone jumps you.

    Progression in Aion is where it shows its Korean roots. The game gives you alot of quests to do, but it feels like the game is deliberately paced so that you must do every single quest to avoid 'grind', including hidden ones, out-of-the-way and easily missable ones, and ones that you get as random drops from a particular mob. There will be times that, if you miss a couple of quests here and there, or choose not to complete one due to the incredibly vague quest descriptions, then you will have to resort to grinding mobs to open up the next levels quests. The game also forces partying very early on in the game: at about level 18 or so, your main quest arcs (called "Missions") and most of your secondary quests will lead you into places where you must group with a typical 'tank/healer/dps' style organized group to progress. The only option other than this forced grouping is to grind. If you're not one that makes friends easily or gets easily frustrated at useless, timewasting and costly PuG's (death means a loss of experience in Aion, a portion of which can be bought back with hard earned gold), then you'll find the road to 20+ paved with repeatable grind, and to some that can be quite a wall to get over.

    If you've played any type of Korean MMO, you won't be surprised at what you get from Aion. Typical Korean MMO mechanics, a couple of half-baked unique features, and alot of time consuming progression quirks. Aion is not a terrible game, and with enough friends in game there's fun to had in Aion, but it isn't exactly something I'd write home about.

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    Saieno

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    #17  Edited By Saieno
    makari said:
    One of the big touted features of Aion, the flying, is more annoying than it is fun. You're restricted to certain areas ...[more]
    Starting out flying is pretty restrictive, but later on you'll have the option to make it permanent with some wing enhancements. Also I've never died from gliding, but it seems you've had some pretty tough times with the flight. My wife has problems with the flight as well, but her issues are more with how the game performs on her laptop rather than problem with the game itself. Story wise I think it fits really well, since you're a fairly new daeva and the stamina needed for flight is something you aren't accustomed to. Also if you're having trouble gathering Aether, try playing on the Asmodian side, for some reason their Small Vortexs are closer to the ground and make gathering a bit easier.

    makari said:
    The combat in Aion, like the flying, is also very stop-start. The skill animations are flashy and look great, but the ... [more]
    I personally thought the combat was pretty smooth, though I guess it depends on the class you play as. As a warrior and scout type it is a bit more smooth, especially with the skill chains. Playing as a Priest or Mage type might create a more robotic experience, since you have long cast times and the cleric switches from ranged to melee equally. Another reason why it might seem robotic is because WoW and WAR are a bit faster paced than AION, with the jump button being spammed like crazy in PVP, faster universal cool-down times, and a combat system built solely for ground combat. The AION combat system is made for aerial and ground combat equally, as the higher end raids and PVP require flight most of the time. AION is slower paced than you might be used to, but I'd say it reaches a comfortable middle-ground between FFXI and WoW/WAR, not too slow and not so fast that a fight is over in 2 seconds.

    I can see how the sheathing animation might get annoying, as it certainly annoys my wife though I've never really had a problem with it in combat. For me the animation has two settings, a 'weapon teleport' that instantly puts the weapon into my hand, and the slower animation of actually unsheathing the weapon. The latter usually happens when there's no enemies around or when my character is calm. The music kind of flows with the mood of your character, so if the music is fast and tense then so is your character. As far as fighting in the Abyss the only thing I would recommend is go with a group or with Legion members. You'll usually be jumped in any game if you're in a PVP area and solo, so it's always a good rule of thumb to travel with others.

    makari said:
    Progression in Aion is where it shows its Korean roots. The game gives you alot of quests to do, but it feels... [more]
    This is probably where we start to disagree a bit more, though I can certainly appreciate your opinion and you taking the time to respond with such a different opinion. Usually Korean MMO roots are settled in constant grinding, a vast majority of which can be seen in Lineage II and most free-to-play games. The quests in the game are there to present the story and lore of the world to you, and are spread around the area as the progression of quests will eventually lead you to them. Most of the time when I enter a new city or village, I explore as much as I can to find out where everything is. Most quests are given by important NPCs, such as the Auction House broker, Weapon Merchant, General Goods merchant, and other such NPCs

    There can be a lot to read when accepting a quest, and sometimes if you just blindly accept it the description in your journal will not have information needed to complete it. This is done by design, as majority of the quests have links in your journal that mark your map with the NPC or monster needed. They even give you more information and lore on these linked people, places, and things, and is quite the useful system. But again, if you don't read the entire quest description when accepting it, then going to mark something on your map only for the game to tell you 'No' can be frustrating.

    Now the game's max level is 45, so grouping at level 20 is pretty reasonable. I've gotten through majority of the content with just me and my wife, her playing a Spiritmaster and me playing a Cleric. We've also played a Templar and Assassin through the Asmodian side, and didn't have any problems with that either. I can understand that right now since the game is Chinese release with an English translation patch that trying to find someone to group with is a bit awkward, but the group mechanics in AION are extremely well made and make grouping with someone a breeze. 20 is when you start your stigma quests, and 25 is when you get your hands dirty in the abyss. In my opinion I appreciate the pace of progress, though I can understand not everyone will enjoy it. I'm a long time FFXI, EQ2, and WAR player, so perhaps it has to do with your taste in MMOs and what you expect to get from them.

    makari said:
    If you've played any type of Korean MMO, you won't be surprised at what you get from Aion. Typical Korean ... [more]
    Again I'm somewhat baffled at your opinion here, as AION isn't really the usual Korean type of MMO. I'm also curious about the half-baked unique features and progression quirks, as I don't believe you mentioned them unless you were talking about the flight and combat. Personally I was extremely surprised by AION, as I was expecting it to be like every disappointment that usually comes from NCSoft. Lineage II is pretty much the definition of what a Korean MMO is and plays like, and AION (although it looks similar) is far from the grind happy gameplay. Although all MMOs will feel like a grind at one point or another, but as long as you have fun and don't think of it as something you have to do then you'll have an enjoyable experience.

    Thanks for the great post and hope you enjoy my counter-points.


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    makari

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    #18  Edited By makari

    I had no trouble with flying other than the redundancy of the time limit mechanic itself. Flying to a gather spot, harvesting 2-3 items or fighting a mob, then having to glide down and wait the same length of time sitting and doing nothing as your flight time recharges is not fun. Not only is it not fun, it's rather pointless. There is no benefit to flying other than a handful of passives that only work while flying, that feel tacked on to justify the time limit. If two opponents are fighting in the air and they both have unlimited flight time, then there is no benefit to either player. The variable time limit on flight is a half-baked way to shoehorn it into a form of itemization gap when it should just be a mechanic. The amount of quests that require flying in the very limited areas that require them is tiny, and some areas where you can fly don't even have any quests that require flying. With so little that actually requires flying, it should at least be a fun thing to do to explore and admire the beautiful world, but for that it is a chore. The other half-baked unique mechanic, Stigma, is uninspired. There isn't really much else to say on that matter. I've seen more fully-realised mechanics in free-to-play games.

    It isn't a bad thing that there is the option to do grouped content at that early level. The problem is that there is no alternative other than grinding repeatable kill quests. This factors into the Korean MMO progression I was talking about... Aion is completely linear, the difference between Aion and a typical Korean MMO is that Aion generally gives you enough quests to level rather smoothly, at least early on (considering the experience curve in the first half or so of progression, I can definitely see the tail end becoming pretty grindy, although admittedly not to the lvl100+ MMO extremes). The problem with it, though, is that it gives you JUST enough, meaning if you are stuck on a quest, or it is too difficult for you, or you simply never find it because you didn't chance upon that random drop or bother to explore every nook and cranny, you'll find yourself needing to grind out a fair chunk of percentage to 'catch up' to the games very deliberate progression. It gives you no other option, no alternate areas to explore, no new sights to see, it simply presents you with a wall of grind. I reached level 19 on my Chanter, and was faced with a whole bunch of quests I had no hope to finish solo. Naturally I feel it necessary to let people know this as it can be a make-or-break situation for many people choosing an MMO. It's a shame that Aion completely discourages people from playing alone and offers no reasonable alternative at such an early level.

    I had a fine time with Aion, mostly because I have played more MMO's in my time than sane people would and am desensitized to grind, but if I'm going to be critical on the game I think I need to point out a few things that really stand out. As a caveat, I would probably play Aion on and off with friends that are interested in it, but I don't feel it's quite good enough to add to my subscriptions.

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    Saieno

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    #19  Edited By Saieno
    makari said:
    I had no trouble with flying other than the redundancy of the time limit mechanic itself. Flying to a gather ... [more]
    Well the rest is up to your opinion, which is perfectly fine as it's well developed and explained. This quote is the only aspect I had to point out because you can actually knock opponents out of the air, giving you the aerial advantage etc. But still it's good to have multiple opinions on a game, since everyone's experience will be different.
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    Rake

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    #20  Edited By Rake

    looks great man, thanks for the review. I'll probably be trying this.

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    juice8367

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    #21  Edited By juice8367

    anyone know if that pricing structure is still the same?
     
    EDIT: Nevermind,  I just preordered & it seems its the standard $15 a month.

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    FalconCritical

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    #22  Edited By FalconCritical

    No MMO is going to suit everyone.  I've played Lineage ][ and WoW for thousands of hours and am reasonably sure that Aion is going to slip right in the middle of them where I see myself.  I tend to get really into the Lore of MMOs, Lineage's lore really impressed me even though you weren't exposed to it ingame much at all.  WoW I see as the opposite, it started from the Warcraft games that had awesome strong stories but most of the ingame story and quests just seem tacked in there without much thought about world progression or that kind of thing.
     
    From what I've read/played of Aion so far it looks to be the definitive story experience - a strong storyline with involving quests to pull players into the mythos.  This is something Bioware also seem to be doing with SW:TOR, it will be interesting to see how the two games compare.

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    Evilsbane

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    #23  Edited By Evilsbane

    So they got rid of that kickass pricing model? Sorry then Aion I will watch you and see how you do.

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    momentarylogic

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    #24  Edited By momentarylogic

    Tell me about the grind sir... all about the grind.

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