Friday, May 2, 2008

WoW: The Quest for Alternatives Part II

Does it have what it takes to cure my WoW addiction?

I am so proud of myself... I haven't been on WoW for about 2 weeks now and I think the process I have started has been a success. There are definitely other addictive role playing games that can easily replace WoW while having similar gameplay elements, but of course they all vary in their degree of success. The first game I used as my WoW patch was Sony's Untold Legends: Dark Kingdom for the PlayStation 3.

Factor 1: Social Gratification
For a game that flopped commercially, there was still a surprising amount of people playing it online. There were always two or three rooms available when I played it around the evening time. Unfortunately, there was no way to communicate via a headset or a keyboard while actually playing the game so the long dungeon crawling sessions got a bit dull faster than the death of my priest by two rogues in a typical WoW arena. For the most part, everyone was just doing their own thing and people didn't even greet each other on the chat screen before the sessions started. [Verdict: 1 out of 5]

Multiplayer is fun but it hardly involves any real teamwork.

Factor 2: Illusion of Grandeur
Dark Kingdom is not a difficult game and some of the higher level spells you can get are pretty darn powerful. I chose the old mage and focused on leveling up his area of effect spells to the maximum and the result was phenomenal. Leveling up the mage was fun and I did feel slightly more powerful as I progressed through the game. All the hard work seemed futile though since there was no option to carry my high level mage over to a new game so that I could wreck havoc as a powerful entity. More catastrophic is the fact that players cannot upload their own leveled-up characters while playing with others online. When joining a game, players have to depend on the data available within the host's saved file. In a majority of the online game I participated in, I ended up having to play a level 1 character in a high level dungeon. It was not fun and it made me feel terribly feeble. [Verdict: 2 out of 5]

It's a straightforward adventure. No open ended-ness here.

Factor 3: Illusion of Uniqueness
Character customization in this game is a joke. There are only three classes to choose from: Warrior, Scout, and Mage. You can't change anything about their initial looks except for their color schemes. There are only several unique looking armor sets in the game and almost all of the armor drops you get from the enemies are really used as currency to get the next armor set. The weapon your character carries changes visually depending on its attached enchantments, which also ended up being very limited. When playing online, you are allowed to select the same class used by others and this kills off any sense of individuality you can get from the game. When leveling up, players can customize where to assign additional skill and attribute points, so there are slight differences in the character builds. Too bad players cannot come together online and upload these personally customized creations. [Verdict: 1 out of 5]

1 of the 3 classes.

Why can't I make my mage look nicer per level?

I have to admit that Dark Kingdom didn't hold my interest for long. If anything, it probably made me want to play WoW even more. The real problems here are definitely the lack of visual customizations on the character and the poor multiplayer implementations. If this game was made a-la Sony's own Champions of Norrath series on the PlayStation 2, it could have been able to perform better. I will look into that series soon but for Part III, it will be PC's Titan Quest versus WoW!


THE GAME ITSELF: 2 out of 5

WoW-KILLER RATING: 1 out of 5

**Click here to read Part I**

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