reviews\ Feb 19, 2006 at 7:00 pm

Minions of Mirth - PC - Review

Well you can't say there isn't any options out there for your MMPOG dollars. With the allure of online adventuring so evident in the games that are coming out and have come out in recent years, I think it's safe to say that the trend is not going to move elsewhere for a while and that online RPGs with, oh say, 1100 people playing at the same time is a sure-fire thing. But what to play? That's the real question. And with all the established games out there and the ones promising to raise the bar, it's hard to say which one you want to jump into. It's not like a shooter title, or sports title, where you know whether or not you are going to like it within the first hour.  Oh no, it's much worse then that. The time that it takes to get a character established, get some experience, get out there and mix it up with some of "the locals" takes time. And usually that's a lot of time already spent right there and you still can't decide whether or not you like the game. It's enough to drive a gamer mad. But that's where I come in, taking the time and effort to give you, the reader the best possible review.

So let's start off with what made me a little concerned about this title. First, you play as either a single character or a team of up to six characters. You pick the class, the face, the body, the name, all that good stuff. And normally that would be fine, but the in game view only features that of the character you put in the first position (you can move em around if you like), call me crazy, but I always liked my party of characters to be represented by ... a party. That being said, even though your whole team of characters can fight monsters or complete quests, only the character in the front position gets the benefit of anything really tangible, i.e., special abilities, items, statistic improvements. Oh don't worry, everyone else will get some experience and gold, but that point character will start to be your "go-to" character with all the benefits of being the front of the line.

And me without my bug spray.

Next, the game does not provide any sort of real instruction on how to do the things you need to do just to survive. Several icons are featured on the bottom of the screen, as is a text menu that scrolls information by at a fairly brisk pace. Now mind you, even though you can only see the one character, all members of the party can function as they should, which is good, but a little difficult to wrap my preconceived notion around. But again, since you do an awful lot of trial and error in the beginning, the lack of documentation becomes really evident. Evident to the point I could see some players giving up too soon.

Now, I was given a downloadable version of this title and I did find the experience to be a little choppy.  I got stuck in a staircase and the NPCs that are moving around would sometimes blip in and out of view. Don't get me wrong, I'm trying to be objective, but I felt it was worth mentioning.

As for the upside of the game, there are several things working in it's favor. Like the scaled-down version of real time. Looking to the sky you can see the weather change and the day turn into night, which allows for some unique gaming. Often areas in the day time have people walking around or weaker monsters, but when night falls, the more sinister creatures come out and play, and if you aren't careful, you could end your adventuring prematurely. Which will cost you. When you die (not if) you will be restarted near the game's initial starting point minus some experience. Experience is a valuable commodity and even if one of your characters dies they can be brought back to life at a cost of experience. Seems that anytime death is involved, you will lose some.

Mmmmmmm ribs.

So in case you didn't pick up on it, the graphics are pretty decent, weather effects, nasty looking baddies, strong architectural design of the building (but ugly staircases). I feel that the game does have a dated look to it, but that's to be expected in an online game like this, not everyone has a smoking-fast computer and the developers want to be able to hit the largest demographic. Still, the game has it's positive and negative visuals.

Now I could go on about all the other things that the game does feature, the items you find, the abilities you gain, yes, all good and not totally unexpected, but the thing that I found to be worth mentioning is that you can play the game not online. You, if you choose to do so, can explore and adventure while never running into another "actual" player. Oh sure you'll meet all sorts of NPCs and they will talk with you, give you quests and all that, but should you choose to never go online, you have a full-sized RPG right there ready to be beaten, and good luck to you.

Of course, though, there is something to be said about running into another party/single person and teaming up to go take on some really tough nasty. If you failed to create a varied enough group of characters then "Abraka" the paladin may just be the fellow you are looking for. With 12 races and 16 classes, you will surely be able to come up with something useful. I am more of a traditional fellow and set my team up with the wizard, warrior, healer, ranger-type, barbarian and a freaky-looking reptile dude just to round out my people. And of course you will find and gain new abilities that will improve your characters. On a side note, you can choose these characters that look like the living dead with the skin all rotting off. My favorite.

Not good armor for sneaking around at night.

OK, more good news is that the folks over at Prairie have made this a one-time purchase game. No monthly fee, no hidden cost, just buy the game and log on to their hosting server. The world is constantly evolving and will be updated regularly. Just thought you should know since it's a sore point amongst the online gaming set. Oh, and did I mention that this game is really, really big. To the tune of three realms big.

Review Scoring Details for Minions of Mirth

Gameplay: 6.4
It can be frustrating going through the paces of the game not knowing what the heck to do or how to do it. The game needs some sort of instruction. Once you spend some time with it, then the pacing will quicken and you will fall into a decent playing rhythm.

Graphics: 7.1
Dated, but with some cool surprises. I like the creatures and how they look but my lead character moved pretty stiff. The weather effects were cool and even some of the locales managed to evoke some real ambience. Items seen during combat are the items you get when it's won.

Sound: 5.9
Swords clang and other background noise just gets the job done. The music didn't do it for me at all. Not heroic enough or the timing of the music didn't match up with what I felt the mood needed. Eh.

Difficulty Medium/Hard
Be a Minion of Darkness or join the Fellowship of Light. Both ways are vastly different but either way will be fraught with peril and you will need to devote some real time to getting your party up and running so's to take on those big time quests. Translation: You will die often.

Concept: 8.0
They came up with some interesting things with this title. Most notably the offline game. But still, look at those screenshots, any game that boasts being able to turn into a werewolf and stalk the city streets gets some credit from me.

Multiplayer: 8.1
Yeah, the deed is done when you purchase this game. Teaming up with others is always a unique and rewarding/frustrating experience.

Overall: 7.0
I struggled harder then I should have had to, but found that sometimes it was worth it. Not always, but sometimes. You could do much worse then this title should you choose to make it your social life for the next six months.


About The Author
In This Article
From Around The Web
blog comments powered by Disqus