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Lineage 2: The Chaotic Chronicle – Preview

You have been thrown into this chaos. However, unlike those weak ordinary people who pass each day by praying, you have the power to protect yourself. In Lineage II, developing a character is not an end by itself. Rather, it is used as an instrument to obtain the power you need to fulfill your will in his world. Become a king and rule over this world. Your own hand will write your own history in this world.

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You have been thrown into this chaos. However, unlike those weak ordinary people who pass each day by praying, you have the power to protect yourself. In Lineage II, developing a character is not an end in itself. Rather, it is used as an instrument to obtain the power you need to fulfill your will in this world. Become a king and rule over this world. Your own hand will write your own history in this world.

System Specs


Recommended:
Pentium III 800
256M RAM
Geforce2 graphic card.

As Tested:
Win XP
P-4 2.24Ghz
1GB Ram
80GB HD
GeForce 4600 Ti
SB Audigy

Gameplay


I decided to join the Lineage 2 open beta because my MMORPG need was not fulfilled with Final Fantasy XI. I knew little or nothing about the Lineage series, other than is a MMORPG that catered to and is very popular in Asia. After playing, or trying to, since the beginning of the open beta period, here are my observations.

Character creation is simple. There are 5 races in the game. They are Human, Elf, Dark Elf, Orc, and Dwarf. You can choose a male or female character. At time of creation, you get to also choose a hair style and a face. That’s all there is to character creation. Each race will offer different looks and characteristics to the player. The humans are the jack-of-all-trades race. The Orcs are physically superior. The Dwarves are the game’s only crafters. The elves are fast and use magic better.

In a departure from most typical RPGs, after choosing a race you have only two class choices (Except Dwarves, which only have one starting class). You can either be a Fighter or a Mage. Once you reach level 20, sub-classes can be opened after finishing certain quests. While the lack of choice can put off novice gamers, it does allow for tailoring your play style to the upcoming character you wish to be. Each race’s tier subclass takes players off into more diverse directions.

Gameplay Cont’d


At lower levels there is not a whole lot of difference between characters, especially within the same race and class. For example, all the Human fighters look and act the same when starting. What differences can be made is in skill choices. Skills are your life blood, especially in combat. Each player earns skill points. These can be used to purchase skills from the appropriate trainer. As you progress, the cost of these skills increase.

Speaking of costs: the economy, pricing, and leveling in the game are quite unique. I have a feeling that the designers don’t want people power-leveling their way through this game, because the economy and player base would be devastated. For example, a beginning level sword costs 800 adenas (the game currency). No problem. The next level of sword costs 14000 adenas. Don’t even start asking about all the different armors. It appears that setting up your own shop and selling items you find will be the best way to control prices. However, only dwarves can craft items – and they can only do it at higher levels.

Leveling is straightforward. Kill….and kill often. Monsters spawn very, very quickly. However, when there were only three servers up and running, even these monsters were being farmed very quickly. You plow through hoards and hoards, just to find even more waiting for you. Sure, it makes great hack and slash, but the rewards given go back to the slower nature of progression. Advancing past level 10 does get slow. The experience and monetary rewards do not ramp up with the difficulty. You will have to farm areas of monsters many times over to save up for that next piece of equipment. Thankfully, your rewards can also come from quests.

The quests that I have participated in usually end up being a “kill certain monster type” or a Fed-Ex run. Fed-Ex runs don’t bother me so far because I have mainly been concentrated in the new-player areas. The monster kill ones aren’t bad because there are so many to kill. However, there are a few quests that involve killing a specific monster. These tend to be camped and lines do form. Two human quests even want you to hunt the same specific monster in a particular ruin. This can lead to claims of kill stealing and general ill-will.

Combat, once initiated, is simple. You blast, shoot, or slash at a monster until either it kills you or you kill it. You can use your skills to perform special moves or power-ups during combat, and certain monsters will do the same. Each monster is color coded for difficulty. Find the one you want, click it, click it again to attack.

This is where I have a real gripe with the game, the interface. Pretty much everything you need to do in the game is controlled by the mouse. Left click an enemy to select them. Left click again to attack. Oh, left click on the environment to move there. Left click to pick something up. Left click to open up your menus, inventory, and character screens. Right click and hold to rotate the screen. Damn, that’s a lot of clicking!

Yes, there are hot keys, but not enough. You can map certain skills and emotes to pre-defined keys corresponding to your keyboard’s top number keys, but not create custom key binds. Also, it appears that in the beta form, the window-sizes versus the translated texts are goofed-up. On more than one occasion, the window was too small to display the text item, and there was no way to scroll more text or resize the window.

Gameplay Cont’d


Movement can be done using the W-A-S-D setup. However, my experience has shown those keys to be flaky at best and non-responsive at worst. Typical movement has you clicking on the background to move to that location. Path finding is adequate, but can and will go bonkers on you. If you click across a body of water, and a bridge is nearby, expect to walk underwater for a while. Click in the distance, but your character hits a rock in the way, you turn around and go backwards. In the tight confines of a dungeon, if you don’t click on the floor, you aren’t moving. If you are inside a building, camera from behind, exiting the building, don’t click in front of you until you have completely exited. You may trick the game into thinking you clicked onto the building, so your character will turn around and go back in. Also, if you are in a player concentrated area, left clicking will hi-light the name. Good luck navigating with the left click method then.

Once you get to a high enough level, you can make or join a clan. Clans are where the high level content is really supposed to shine. The ultimate fruition of this will be the castle sieges. There are castles in the main provinces of the game. Clans and their allies can raid these castles, and if victorious, take them over. They then get to rule the land, raising taxes, expanding power bases, even raising dragons.

How can they do this? The entire game is player-vs-player. At almost any time, you can initiate combat with another PC. If you kill them, you are branded a player killer. Your karma rating suffers, and you get a red player name. To keep it from becoming rampant, those with good karma get rewarded for killing PKs. So, it’s best not to PK unless you are sure you wish to do this. I haven’t seen too much of it in beta, because most PK’s were low level and quickly killed.

Until this past weekend (04/04/04), there were only three servers active. This was a nightmare to try and log into. However, there are now two additional servers for players to log in to, which has helped to increase network performance. With more players distributed across servers, lag in the game is almost non-existent now. Before, my system would really start to crawl when trying to enter the first human village.

On a final note, NC Soft is doing something quite novel with the game. If you take part in this open beta period, you get to keep your character if you choose to enter the pay-to-play period. This is quite an incentive to keep people playing the game. I know I’d really hate to see my hard work go for naught. Oh you foul temptresses!

Sound


There is no sound setup to speak of, other than volume settings. The music is quite good. It is very periodic and fantasy based. Music tends to be triggered by either event or location. Head into the church for a regal piece, while the local fighter trainer triggers something imperial sounding.

The world is full of noise, most of it from combat. From the clack of sword on armor to the thud of an arrow hitting bone, you can’t escape the noise pollution. That doesn’t mean it is bad, by any means. It is constant, and can get quite loud. However, on the rare occasion that combat isn’t happening, you can hear the birds in the trees, cicadas in the fields, and waves crashing on the shore.


Graphics

Lineage 2 uses a custom version of the Unreal engine for graphic rendering. That means that it looks sharp. Monsters, characters, and environments are well designed and expertly engineered. The spiders, for example, look completely creepy.

There is an anime flare to the game, with ample bosomed, large doe-eyed female elves all around. Funny how they get the same armor protection as a male wearing the same shirt. Ah well, this is fantasy, right?

The game does offer a few more visual settings than audio settings. You can set your resolution setting, draw distances, model textures, and pixel shaders. I found the running with all settings maximized does add slowdown in populated areas, but in open areas it doesn’t hinder much. However, as this is an online game, FPS and lag override beauty in my opinion. I turn shadows and shaders off, and completely enjoy the experience.

I did notice a few draw-in issues. These tend to be created during tight or weird camera angles. Otherwise, the graphics have been rock solid!


Final Impression

Interface issues aside, I find Lineage 2 to be a fun hack-and-slash based MMORPG. As I have not progressed far enough into the game, due to the log-in and server issues, I can not comment on what it will be like to participate in the large scale plans for the games, ie clan warfare and castle sieges. If you want a new RPG, and don’t mind a little community for a lot of combat, definitely get into the open beta period. If you don’t like hack-n-slash, PvP, or treadmills, you might want to pass this one by. For me, I’ll tell you more of what I think once I reach that magic level 20!

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