reviews\ Dec 4, 2001 at 7:00 pm

Asheron's Call: Dark Majesty Expansion Pack - PC - Review

In the beginning was Ultima Online, then in 1999 Sony’s EverQuest and Microsoft’s Asheron’s Call joined the ranks of the Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games.

Ultima has enjoyed several expansions over the years, and is now up to UO: Third Dawn. EverQuest has just released another expansion pack, bringing the total to three.

Now Asheron’s Call has joined the fray with its first expansion – Asheron’s Call: Dark Majesty. Developed by Turbine Entertainment, Dark Majesty features a new world, but doesn’t cheat gamers who have never played in the original world. Dark Majesty contains the original game, as well the new island of Marae Lassel. There are new monsters, a huge map board to explore, and some other new features, which will enhance the social climate of Asheron’s Call’s homeworld of Dereth.

Let’s backtrack just a bit.

The story line behind the game begins with the invasion of Dereth by giant insects. Humans eventually battled back, but the olthoi (the race of giant insects) remain to torment and kill any unsuspecting adventurers. Game players create a character and portal into the world. After some introductory courses, you are ready to venture forth, seek fame and fortune, and level up your character.

For reviews of the original Asheron’s Call, please see 

Like most online games, you pay a monthly fee for the privilege of traversing this fantastic realm.

Now to say that this is the first expansion pack doesn’t mean to infer that since its official release in 1999 that Asheron’s Call has stagnated. There has been the usual round of patches, including those to repair the game’s trade system, and add a new territory. All those patches are included in Dark Majesty. And Dark Majesty brings a couple of other changes to the fore – like player-owned housing. You can buy an in-game house. This offers a measure of safety and a secure place to store items. This can be a mixed blessing. UO went this route, and the world – depending on which server you play on – has become very crowded. It will be interesting to see how Microsoft et al handle this aspect in the future.

And getting a house isn’t as easy as just plunking down some cash. Nope, there are quests that must be completed – in a way, challenging your worth as a potential homeowner.

In spite of the overall changes, Dark Majesty has not upgraded the game sound (what little there is), the graphical elements have changed little, and player-versus-player combat is still limited to one server (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing).

However, if you want to experience the wonders of this online world, the real value comes in the price – which is less than $25 for the game with expansion and the first month of play free.

Sooner or later, some company is going to develop a MMORPG that is truly unique and amazing. In the meantime, games like Asheron’s Call: Dark Majesty provide a window to traverse strange lands, battle strange and dangerous creatures, and make some on-line friends.

This game is rated Teen.

Install: Hard
You get the game, you pop it in, install the core elements, then wait another 20 minutes while the auto-patches update the game. That isn’t exactly the prescription for a good time or instant access to the gaming world.

Gameplay: 8
These worlds are huge, and there is quite a lot to do, see and battle

Graphics: 7
The characters are a little blocky, but the environments are well done, as are some of the effects.

Sound: 6.5
There isn’t a lot of sound in this game, but what is there is solid.

Difficulty: 7
The player interface is not all that intuitive, and there is a learning curve of about 30 minutes before newbies will feel confident enough to actually challenge and survive the rigors of this world.

Concept: 7
The player-owned housing has been done before in a MMORPG, so it isn’t exactly new. The new island is pretty cool, though.

Multiplayer: 8.5
This is not a solo player game. The chat rooms can be a bit unwelcoming, but the game itself is enjoyable.

Overall: 7.8
This game is certainly value-priced and packed. There is a lot of solid game play here, great challenges and a persistent online world that is as intriguing as it is inviting. However, while new to the Asheron’s Call legacy, the innovations this game brings to the fore have been done in other games. Asheron’s Call: Dark Majesty is a very solid game.  


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