reviews\ Sep 2, 2002 at 8:00 pm

Lineage - PC - Review

The world is what you make of it.

In the evolving world of Lineage, you can do whatever you wish, travel far and wide, embark on quests, lead warriors into battle, or just hunt monsters.

NCsoft Corporation has created a fascinating world for this hybrid massively-multiplayer online role-playing game. But while some companies would be content to sit back and simply manage a game, the company is progressively advancing the gameplay. What that adds up to is a solid gaming experience that continues to challenge.

If there is a drawback to the game, it would be in the very thing that makes this game exceptional ­ the presentation of new episodes, which are added periodically by the developers, but serve to expand the base of game play.

Episode X introduced the Lair of Valakas, a new volcanic land mass with fire-breathing monsters and an incredibly powerful dragon. The episode builds on the dwarves’ role as ironworkers and craftsmen. Episode XI: Oren again expands the lands of Lineage with a snowy, cold region near the fiery lair of Valakas, and ruled over by an Ice Queen. The Ivory Tower of Oren is introduced. It is the ultimate school of magic, and there are new spells for both humans and elves available.

But the constant upgrades pose a problem for gameplayers with slower modems. You will spend a long time downloading patches and game updates. The slower modems don’t seem to have a problem in gameplay, but it is the downloads that require time and patience. The game itself can be downloaded off the Internet or you can order a disk. The game can be played on either a Mac or PC.

Players can choose between four different classes ­ knight, wizard, prince (or princess) and elf. Each character is defined by six ability levels: strength, dexterity, intelligence, constitution, wisdom and charisma (which is pretty standard stuff). There are also two main servers you can choose from, one of which offers non-PvP play.

Patience seems to be a byword of this game. Just as players demonstrated that trait while receiving downloads, you will need to do the same when it comes to leveling up your avatar. It takes time ­ just as moving from place-to-place takes time. You walk; no running allowed. There is a teleportation system in place to speed up moving from one region to the other, but should you venture into the wilds, you will find yourself ambling along. Fortunately, if you die and are a newer player to the game, you won’t be penalized experience points.

If you don’t like the simple venturing process (akin to Ultima Online), you can take a blood pledge and fight for your clan.

Game controls and player interface are of the point-and-click variety, combining mouse and keyboard hotkeys. There is a bit of a learning curve here, but you will find some other players who are willing to help you by offering advice.

The game has a fixed camera angle, and your avatar can be obscured by terrain elements. If you have engaged in a battle with some of the various creatures roaming the world, their bodies and any booty dropped can also be lost behind trees. The lighting is fixed, not all that dynamic, and when night falls, this world can be very bleak.

However, for all that, Lineage is an intriguing game. Not geared for those who want to level up quickly, this is a game that fits the true and patient RPGer to a ‘T." The game is meant to be savored and enjoyed, and the elements of this world are definitely different.

Lineage’s constant evolution is a vital element of this game, not only for players who will reap of the benefits of exploring new lands, but also for the sake of the game developers. There are several new MMORPGs on the horizon, and Lineage will have to continue to evolve to garner its share of players.

Gameplay: 7.8
Once you invest the time in downloads, the game seems like a relief. You can transition from area-to-area effortlessly, and though the pace of the game is slow, this game is seamless.

Graphics: 7
Remember Ultima before it went 3D? That’s what you have here. It is two-dimensional, but the environments are wonderful.

Sound: 6
Not much is here, and what is here is merely average.

Difficulty: Easy
The control elements are simple, and the player interface is well designed. Of course, much of the experience is based upon staying within the realm of your character’s abilities. Level one players shouldn’t attack dragons with a knife. If you understand your limitations, and don’t mind dying on occasion, you should have an easy time working through this game.

Concept: 8.5
This is a well-conceived game, and the constant expansion (a.k.a. episodes) are certain to make this a game that will continue to delight and intrigue.

Multiplayer: 8.5
What is a MMORPG without multiplayer gaming? You will find those that help, those that ignore and those who will confound you. The blood pledge aspect of this game really boosts the multiplayer aspect of the experience.

Overall: 8.1
This is a solid game that may not be a little flat in the graphical animation, but the game still has a lot to offer. Those that play it are quite devoted to it. This is the type of game that will take time to play, but is worth the effort.


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