previews\ Dec 15, 2003 at 7:00 pm

Savage Eden: The Battle for Laghaim - PC - Preview

"Here there be tigers" … lots of tigers as well as an assortment of other creatures all capable of attacking and all ready to drop experience points and limes for the willing warrior. The phraseology (see the quote marks) was used by mapmakers in the olden days to denote areas where danger lurked. In the land of Laghaim, danger lurks almost everywhere, as so do - literally - man- and alien-eating tigers.


Savage Eden: The Battle for Laghaim is a massively multiplayer online role-playing title for the PC from iEntertainment that is somewhat simplistic in nature. The game tries to blend the futuristic with medieval and features four races locked in a battle to survive against a hostile environment that features both the familiar and exotic.


The game is in closed beta at the moment, but GameZone was allowed the opportunity to take a peek.


In the year 2357, mankind had to leave Earth and settle a distant world. The planet had three other races - the Bulkan, Kailipton and Aidia. Each race has its own unique abilities, but initially they were at odds with each other. Enter the Progmare, a powerful alien race bent on the destruction of these races.


With little choice, the planet was named Laghaim and the four races signed a truce. The idea is that they must work together to protect their land from the Progmare. But there is so much more to fight against, so much more to do in order to survive.


Now, about those limes … that is the form of currency in Laghaim. Each monster killed will yield experience points and limes. On rare occasions, the mobs will also drop other treasure, such as level two or three chipped gemstones. Get five level three gems and they can be transformed into one level-two chipped gem. Five level two gems can be combined into a level 1 chipped gem. Five level-one chipped gems can be combined to make one stone, and that one stone can upgrade your weapon. And yes, that is a lot of chipped gems.


The land itself features an array of environments. Each session begins in the starter town, which is a square featuring an array of vendors. The usual wares are for sale – weapons, armor, magical items, a gem dealer, a gambling vendor (you can gamble on an upgrade for your chipped gems), and even a guard captain, which, for a certain amount of limes, will allow you to re-roll your experience.


You gain experience points as you level. The initial levels are easy to attain - just venture into the wilds outside the square and kill. When you level, you get skill points that can be applied in areas such as strength, dexterity, intelligence, charisma, and strain. Each of these is important in many ways and each race will need to focus on certain skills in order to power up their warrior abilities.


For example: while humans can wield swords and axes, the true calling in terms of warrior arms lays in toting powerful guns. All the specialized race skills are in guns. Plunking all of your level points into strength may help you wield a bigger melee weapon, but you won’t be able to carry the weapon that is the true strength of the race. You will need to power up your dexterity skills for that. Meanwhile, the Bulkans would concentrate on their strength skills to attain the special melee attacks such as overhead attack, whirlwind slash or exploding rage.


There are offensive and defensive skills.


The Kailipton are magic users, while the Aidia also use magic, but it is more of a nature-based magic.


In all, the game tries to find a balance in race structures, and for the most part succeeds. The crafting system, while somewhat limited, also has unique abilities tied to classes. Humans are the only ones capable of using the Gem Crafting Kit to transform rough gems. One can also collect Amiga magic stones, which can be crafted by Aidia to create a power-up for weapons as well.


The environment of Laghaim is diverse and the further one ventures into the realm, the more difficult the game becomes. Warp gates will allow passage and while in the wilds, players can use portable gates to recall.


The inventory is divided into three sections and there are six hotkey slots. Unfortunately, weapons cannot be hotkeyed. This is important to note because the inventory interface is a drag-and-drop scheme that can be a touch slow. As weapons other than melee have cost in two areas – mana and electrical – if you have a gun equipped, are in a fight, and run out of electric power, you will have to switch weapons.


Fortunately, most of the attacks do not happen too quickly and you will find time to swap out weapons, if you keep your health potions hotkeyed, and stab in a few during the switching process.


For right now, the world has visible seams. If you look at the sky, which rolls overhead as though on rollers, you will see a prime example of environment seams. The animation is a little slow in movement, but not in combat. Combat effects are, for the most part, well done. You can zoom in the camera, but up close the game tends to have a little pixilization happening.


The game will allow for players to form guilds, and even to have a castle. There will be castle sieges, and limited PvP (Player versus Player) in certain zones.


The game does not seem to have a user options interface at this time, which can be a bit of an annoyance. The musical theme is decent, for the first 5-10 minutes, but then loops and the only recourse is to turn down your volume controls, because there is not an interface option for disabling it. (Again, this game is in beta, and some items may change before its final release.)


Savage Eden also uses a mouse free-look system. You use the mouse controls to move the camera, and then left click to move to a location or attack. And, for the moment, the chat system is not very good. Players are limited to the amount of text (one line) they can type and it scrolls very fast during battle with no chat log that players can access to see what they may have missed. Get into a town, where a lot of people are talking, and you will likely miss discourse directed your way.


On the surface, Savage Eden is a Diablo-esque type of game, a smash-and-bash outing that can be enjoyable because of the simplicity. The game does have promise for so much more – in terms of quests (and yes, you can get a pet – a Labiyong – but don’t plan on that as soon as you enter the game; it is a level 90 pet and the egg costs 1 million limes), and the pending PvP and castle siege designs. Initially there is no sign of the Progmare, but that storyline seems wide open as well.


The game also has some interesting quirks – not only can you change your hairstyle (for 100,000 limes), but you can – for whatever reason and 5 million limes – change your gender.


Laghaim is not likely to set the world of MMORPGs on fire, but from this foray into the beta, it appears that it will provide a respite from games that are overly complex, while offering a very different vision for its players. The game has some stumbling points, to be sure, but the simplistic nature of the game is somewhat appealing.

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