Armada Online Review - Pwn with your Own Ship
By Vincent Haoson (Vincenthaoson), OnRPG Journalist
As an online gamer there have been games that I always return to. Armada Online is one example. The overall idea of Armada Online is that you belong to one of the two factions (Nomad Empire or Allied Systems) and you duke it out in space with your very own ship.
You are given different instances where you either go against armadas (the monsters you see on the map) or against other players in some very epic PVP action.
Armada Online uses the overhead perspective. The ship's controls use a mix of the keyboard and mouse. Navigation is locked to the mouse while weapons and other game features are accessed through the keyboard.
The controls give the authentic feeling that you are piloting a big spaceship and not just a fighter ship that can be gunned down easily. The fact that you can time your shots according to your ship's weapon cool down gives you the captain-of-the-ship experience. In fact, I can say that the game lets you experience how it feels to be a starship commander in Star Trek. You can also opt to go on full auto with your ship's weapon systems if you're in the thick of things and you can just concentrate on steering your ship and evading enemy shots.
I can't really say that the game is free from the MMORPG feel because Armada Online's leveling system is somewhat similar to what most MMORPGs have. Each level gives you points for both your ship and captain to allocate for stats and skills. For ships, you get to improve their destructive power with every point you allocate , while captain points allow you to get skills to enhance your ship's capabilities and give you points to allocate to the three stats (weapon, science and tactical) your captain has.
In relation to the captain stats, racial bonuses come into play. Almost all races have stat bonuses in correlation to their race save for the humans (the Terran race in the game). Aside from stat bonuses, these races have certain roles in specific instances that put players into their "groups" determined by their race.
At first glance this may be too restrictive for players who want to have more freedom in their race choices. Players can go against the preconceived ideas of their race by being creative with their skill and stat allocations. While this may take more time than a player would like, the idea on being able to do this gives the twist the game needs to make it interesting for players.
As I mentioned earlier, each race has a specific ship design. While this knocks ship customization down a peg, the ship's capabilities make playing the game very interesting. Each race has three ship tiers. Starting from the default ship, you can upgrade to tier two and then tier three. Each upgrade tier then gives you two paths to choose from.
There is a difference with the ship upgrades once you reach tier three. While there are four types of tier three ships for each race, you can only have two ship classes to upgrade to. The ship choices you have at this point are dictated by the type of ship you upgraded to in the second tier.
This type of system emphasizes on the importance of your choices in terms of your ship's advancement. It gives you something to look forward to while enjoying the journey of leveling. On its own, the ships can only provide so much interest. That's why I think the instances are the other half of the anchor that keeps me coming back for more.
Armada Online has three types of instances that you can play. There's the co-op, the PVP and the global instances that works like dungeon instances in other MMORPGs. The Co-op instances are separated into the tutorial type (Haven) and the more serious one (the Burn). In the co-op instances all races help out one another in finishing tasks set on the map. In these instances you are only faced with armadas.
The PVP instances on the other hand pit the two factions against each other on one map. However you are not only faced with just your enemies, you also have to face armadas that patrol the map. These instances are really fun to play because they keeps you on your toes. It 's really an exhilarating experience to go against other ships in a head to head battle in space.
Influence, the currency you need to purchase skills, upgrades, crews and equipment for your colony, you earn in these instances are only earned locally and will only allow you to buy powers useable in the instance you are in. You'll have to complete these instances to earn global influence, which in turn will provide for the things I've mentioned earlier.
The third and last instance you can join is the global instance. Everything you earn in this instance (influence and experience points) are usable for upgrades and the like. Think of the global instance as the PVE maps on MMORPGs where you don't have a time limit or any other goal than to just explore, kills armadas and mine.
Global Instance and the Colony
The global instance in Armada Online is a huge map. This instance truly feels like you are travelling in space. You get to go through warp holes and even use the star map to plot a course to planets and star systems. The things you earn here are transferable so that you can use them in the development of your colony .
Armada Online is one of those games that has successfully infused a complex game concept and simplified it to maximize what makes space themed games like this enjoyable. While the main problem I have is the long delay in-between updates, I am still surprised every time I return into the game.
The game provides enough reason for a space buff like me to keep on playing. If you are looking for some old-school space battles then this game is just for you. So if you decide to play-- I'll be seeing you in space, Captain!
- Simple upgrade system keeps you encouraged to play.
- Gameplay is easy to grasp but is very addicting.
- Provides an authentic space battle feel especially on heavily populated instances.
- The game takes time to provide update.
- The game only has three game types and can be boring if you're playing it for a long time.
- The game's audio can be pretty redundant and boring.