previews\ Nov 3, 2002 at 7:00 pm

Asheron's Call 2 Fallen Kings - PC - Preview 2

The old adage is that the world is what you make of it. That can be amended. The world is what you, and every other massively multiplayer online role-playing gamer makes of it.

Asheron’s Call 2 Fallen Kings is being touted as the next generation in online role-playing games. However, this game is far removed from its predecessor, not only from the standpoint of a new world to explore and conquer, but in the dynamic graphics that are sure to please any discriminating game player.

Of course, there is a price to pay for the graphical quality of this game. We’re not just talking about that monthly fee charged to be part of the world, but in system requirements. In order to participate, you will need at least a 733 MHz CPU, 256MB RAM and a video card that supports hardware T&L

GameZone was invited along to preview the game, and, having seen a demo of the game at May’s E3 in Los Angeles, entered the world with a great deal of anticipation. The game is everything it is billed to be. Not only is the graphical quality simply amazing, but the gameplay is seamless. Yes, there is a minor hesitation as you move from one mapboard to the next, but that is negligible when compared to what you will be allowed to see, and may be due to a slower modem speed than the actual game itself.

This is a game that is full of quests, fellowships, and battle all combined in a mesmerizing world that is finely detailed and huge. Fortunately the world is littered with lifestones (save or regeneration points where you will come back to the world should you die in-game or have to quit the game session) and portals to help you move quicker throughout it.

Here is the set up::

The game takes place hundreds of years after the original Asheron’s Call, in the wake of "The Devastation." The event was a great magical disaster that reshaped continents, razed the land and mutated the creatures left in its wake.

Those that seek to populate the realm are emerging from underground shelters (and yes, you have to pass a test in order to leave the underground and head up to the surface). There are old towns reduced to burned-out shells that can be rebuilt. And if you don’t have a hankering for combat, you can become a craftsman. The opportunity is there to begin as a humble forger of mundane weapons and articles to rise to master craftsman status.

You can rebuild cities or align with one of the great kingdoms. Or, you can simply wander the wilderness, far from the socialized elements of the game.

There are three races to choose from in the game: The reptilian Tumeroks, the giant Lugians and Humans. As expected, each has strengths and weaknesses. Also certain weapons and armament are race specific.

I addition to the towns which can be rebuilt, there are specific player-versus-player regions in the game where you can take on others to test your mettle against a human-controlled avatar.

Though basically played from a third-person perspective, you can zoom in so you are looking over the shoulder of your avatar. You can also rotate the camera (using the number pad) to get different looks at the world and your character.

As with most games, you need a certain amount of points to level up your characters, but experience points matter in another area as well. As you level up you receive skill points which can be expended to purchase new skills. You can then use accrued experience points to level up that particular skill. As a Tumerok, the skill of lightning attack (bolts of lightning hit the target if you use the skill and actually make contact during battle) is not nearly as effective at level 1 as it is at level 14.

The game utilizes the Turbine Engine G2 to render real-time three-dimensional shadows and lighting, as well as the incredibly rich environments. Finding a forgotten city with a tower purchased on a hill overlooking it, and climbing to the top of the tower and sitting to watch the sun rise over the world is amazing.

Go for a swim in the waters that course throughout the lands, and bubbles trail out behind your character.

Chat is handled through a box which displays actions and typed conversations. Characters can emote, and hearing a Tumerok laugh is rather silly but fun.

Asheron’s Call 2 Fallen Kings is a MMORPG that will surely set the standard higher for this genre. The game play is excellent, and the effects and graphics are a wonder. If you enjoy playing online RPGs, then this is one game you won’t want to miss.

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