previews\ May 14, 2009 at 8:00 pm

Neo Steam: The Shattered Continent - PC - Preview

Atlus is making strides into the online massively multiplayer market and on Wednesday the company showed off the MMO it plans on releasing this summer – Neo Steam: The Shattered Continent.

Neo Steam: The Shattered Continent is a fusion of fantasy and steam punk, meaning you will encounter magical and imaginary races and creatures, some sporting magical abilities, while the backdrop is steam-driven technology, with the associated gears, pipes whistling out steam, zeppelins and other bits that propel the game from the stock fantasy worlds and give it a touch of a slightly more modern era. For example, the subway is a bit of a tongue-in-cheek moment because you really are traversing from one area to another on a submarine (it is a cut scene, just as the zeppelin rides are real-time cut scenes).

The media tour was comprised of pre-created characters and included jaunts through several zones, touching on the overall basics of the game, but not truly delving into the nuances that might just separate Neo Steam: The Shattered Continent from other titles online. The game has a robust player-versus-player (PvP) element, but it was stated – very clearly – that players don’t have to engage in PvP to level up and enjoy the game. Still, one of the better zones for drops and leveling was in an open PvP area.

To clarify, the game has two factions (the Republic of Rogwel and the Elerd Kingdom), with the races aligned on either side. It is basically a cast of tech/science versus the magic-based realm with both sides trying to take control of the world’s (known as Chrysalis) prime power source, neo steam. If players choose to fight in the PvP areas, and are proficient enough, they may even earn special weapons that are a benchmark of their prowess.

The game also features personal player mounts that range from large lizard-like creatures to overweight bunny-like creatures and some mechanized vehicles (one that was shown off was a broom-like mount equipped with an engine).

Characters are customizable and the emphasis graphically seems to be placed there as well. The world is a bit different but the colors seem to be a tad muted or understated whereas the character models are very vibrant and stand out. The game does not feature bump mapping, but the effects – especially if your PC monitor is running in high resolution – are very nicely rendered. There are six races and four starting professions. Players start to specialize their professions beginning at level 10.

The player characters have a number of bars that must be monitored during the course of the game. There is the standard health bar, as well as a mana bar and stamina bar. The magical skills draw from the mana bar and the melee/warrior skills from the stamina bar. Each skill will cost players to use and once you deplete the bar, you have to wait for it to regenerate before you can continue to use skills. (There are potions available that will help replenish the bars.) That brings a tactical element into play. It does you no good to attack a target if you are low on your skills’ prime bar. You may just end up standing there and becoming a punching bag for the enemy. The last bar is the Neo Steam bar. This is a bar that does not auto replenish, though players can purchase more Neo Steam from vendors. Neo Steam is used when players activate pets and perform other special functions. Range weapons will use NS (Neo Steam) to use, though for the scout class, the cost is lower than for other classes.

As players level, they earn SP (skill points) and TP (training points). The SP is acquired when the player actually levels, while the TP is accrued as you use your skills. Once you have enough of both, you can open up a skill tree menu and either use the SP and TP to buy a new skill or upgrade existing skills. Obviously, the higher the skills, the more damage you are capable of doing.

The game also has a crafting component, though the tour did not touch on that aspect.

Neo Steam: The Shattered Continent moves into a pre-open beta phase today (with a beta stage known as the Golden Ticket) but the tour guides said that an open beta should be available toward the end of the month and the game is on track for a summer release.

A blend of fantasy, anime and steam punk, Neo Steam: The Shattered Continent seems to have some concepts in place that will distinguish it from the other MMOs currently on the market. With a solid character customization element, this is an MMO to keep an eye on.

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