Monday, May 16, 2011

Experiencing the Rift

An easy decision if you have played this genre many a times before.

I started playing the 7-day free trial for the massively multiplayer online role playing game Rift on the Personal Computer yesterday and I must say that I am  hooked. The game is basically a combination of World of Warcraft  (but all modern MMOs are WoW clones, except Final Fantasy XIV and notice how quickly that game is dying off) with its addictive user-friendly quest design  and Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning with its introduction of large-scale public quests in the form of rift invasions. But let's talk about the one thing that really caught my attention when I first started playing this game: the graphics. Oh the sweet graphics. This is now the most beautiful MMO that I have played to date - probably will be dethroned by Star Wars: The Old Republic when it comes out though - and it is amazing that they are able to pull off this kind of quality visuals in a MMO because of the constant activities and people running around the place. The worlds, the characters, and the spell effects have an incredible level of details to them and I was able to maximize all the graphics settings without a hitch in performance. The art style resembles closely to WAR however with its darker undertone so the gameplay element wasn't the only thing that Trion Worlds copied from that game.

The whole screen deliciously explodes when you level up, making you want to do it more.

Even though the public quest - where you can join random people in massive, staged battles - is not an original idea, the twist presented here makes it feel very fresh. Rifts from another dimension open up randomly within the game world, pouring out a variety of nasty creatures in their wake, and you can join others in a fight to close up the rifts. I have only participated in two of these but heck, they are so much fun. And those evil tentacles coming out of the rifts I have seen thus far - they are mesmerizing. These rifts encounters are memorable but I wonder how fast I will bore of them. Besides these rift events, everything else is your standard WoW where you are propelled from one quest to another, keeping you engaged with the game's lore and stories, as you level up to make your character stronger.

It's all about the rifts.

Speaking of leveling up, the game offers multiple branches within the main 4 classes - your typical Warrior, Mage, Cleric, Rogue - offered at the offset of the game. You can then mix and match up to 3 at a time the "souls" or subclasses that you want to equip your character. It may sound like the game is offering you with a lot of subclasses but the fact of the matter is that a lot of them are too similar to each other. It is not really triple-classing, it's more like you are just switching around between the many talents you gain from the main class that you have chosen. It is important to note as well that there are no unique classes between the game's two rival factions and six races, which is somewhat of a disappointment. Still, the soul system ensures a variety of different talent combinations between the players.

The battle system is fast and fun.

As you may know, I still love WoW. I just don't like what it does to my free time to play video game: that is, to be played properly, it will dominate  the whole allotment. Rift has invigorated the passion that I have for the genre and for a moment, I was utterly convinced that I should get the game. But then why would I invest in Rift instead of WoW if I want to get back into the business of playing MMOs knowing that the latter is far superior. Well, Rift just looks too pretty and it is a WoW clone. The fact of the matter is that Rift is an incredibly polished product from what I have experienced so far but I am going to continue utilizing all of my free trial time to the fullest to accomplish one of two things: a) to fully satiate my MMO desires until I have had enough so that I don't have to reconsider coming back to a MMO, or b) be convinced that I should MMO again and the decide between Rift and WoW.


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