previews\ Oct 27, 2009 at 8:00 pm

Atlantica Online - PC - Preview

Atlantica Online is, at first blush, one of those typical MMOs that seems to meld the overwhelming grind of Asian massively multiplayer online games with an environment that seems to be all over the place. There are swords here and guns, magic, and plenty of targets.

But you initially see is not always what you think you might get.

For example, launching into the game, you get to create a character from a limited list of parameters and then you are marched off into the starting areas to figure out the methodology of the gameplay. Oh, don’t worry, there are guides to get you started, explaining the rudiments you will have to know to survive. And the game does evolve, so you can either evolve with it or hop in and flounder – especially if you try rigorously to hold on to concepts gleaned from North American MMOs.

What Atlantica offers instead is a massively multiplayer game that is somewhat akin to Asian RPGs except that you get to see the targets and pick the ones you wish to attack.

Once you do that, the real-time nature of AO steps aside and you are involved in a deeper, turn-based strategic game where you, and your band of mercenaries, have to select your targets, use your mana (called Action Power in this game) judiciously for special attacks and try to survive the onslaught. Why? Because when you target one monster, you are ported to an isometric instanced zone where you and your mercenaries toe off with any number of foes – from three to six creatures in the early levels. You have a finite amount of time to complete all your team’s turns (attacks, heals, defensive postures), and then it is your enemies’ turn to attack. If you have played any number of Japanese RPG titles, you will know precisely what to expect. If you are a North American MMOer that has never experienced an old-school RPG, this might take you by surprise.

Atlantica Online’s learning curve is not too steep – you actually have a better-than-average chance to survive early on. At the core of the combat is the mercenary system. Players can take on mercenaries and then develop them alongside the player’s main character. It is almost like team play that each player creates on his or her own.

Now where the game diverts a little bit is in how you have to loot enemies. If you kill a member of the opposing force, you have a limited time to loot that body before it disappears and you lose what it may have dropped.

AO is free to play, but don’t confuse that with being allowed to romp through the world without limits. This game is built on the micro-transaction model, meaning that you can purchase in-game items from coins you can purchase through your account for real-world money.

The game takes a fantasy setting but bases it on the real world, and guilds can actually rise up and own a city. This makes for an intriguing dynamic for team play.

And while the game seems very free form in many regards, the quest arcs do a nice job of driving a player through the game and to locations around the game world, which stretches from northeast Asia to northern Europe with stops in southwest Asia, Indonesia and North Africa.

There are nine character models to choose from, each with his or her own strengths. You can have multiple characters on one server. As for the classes, the gun character has better long-range attributes with dexterity high on the list, meaning a high evasion rate. The spear character, on the other hand, has high strength and defensive attributes. However, melee characters cannot attack flying opponents, which is something to keep in mind as you define your role in the world.

The graphics are generally pleasing, though the interface seems a bit overwhelming initially. The sound, on the other hand, is nothing that will distinguish this game.

Atlantica Online is not a bad game and this is obviously a game that continues to evolve. The foundations are there for a different kind of MMO experience and players looking for something a bit out of the norm may do well in taking this game out for a test-drive. True, the micro-transaction model is not everyone’s cup of tea, but you do get to define your game by the money invested and what you choose to buy.


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