Fantasy Earth Zero Review - PvP Fanatics Apply Here
By Michael Sagoe (mikedot), OnRPG journalist
Let me start off by saying that I am not much of a fan when it comes to "Player vs. Player" in most of today's MMORPGs. PvP in most MMOs is typically reliant on gear/equipment, stat/hotkey management and sometimes dumb luck. I'm the kind of person that prefers when players have full and complete control of attacking, defending and dodging enemies, much like an action game. So here's Fantasy Earth Zero (FEZ), a free-to-play online MMORPG that claims to be filled with skill based action. But is it really skill based or just a clever ruse?
When creating your character, you'll be able to pick your gender of either male or female and three different classes (and only three.) You can choose warriors, which are pretty straight forward attackers for close range fighting, scouts, whichcan use bows and daggers for a balance of weak close and long ranged attacks, and sorcerers,whichcan cast magic and status effects on enemies with moderate attack range. There are also five body types, seven face and hair styles with five color variations.
After you create your character, you must pick between one of five kings to pledge your allegianceto. While each king/country has a different background and story to tell, this doesn't pose a major differences between each during combat, so it doesn't matter too much which king you roll with. After your character is created, you'll go through a tutorial that will take you around 10 to 20 minutes to complete. It does a decent job of getting you familiar with the controls and all aspects of the game play.
The game world is not like your typical MMORPG with multiple maps that are connected to each other. Instead, the game world is heavily instanced and broken up into relativity small areas that players travel to by simply selecting the area they wish to visit via the world map. Other than in the the town areas, only 100 players will be allowed ineach map.
The world of Fantasy Earth Zero; available in bite sized pieces
Even if you have the visuals set to maximum, FEZ's graphics will look awfully dated. The textures on just about everything look very bland and lifeless. Faces on character models aren't animated, so they have nothing but lifeless stares. Besides theplayer models, nothing in the game world seems to cast a proper shadow despite the fact that there are day and night cycles . Additionally, the animations for attacking do not flow naturally and look rather robotic.
FEZ's visuals manage to make a lifeless desert look even more lifeless
The audio used in FEZ is hit and miss. From time to time, the kings and other important characters of your nation will speak to you and other players with words of wisdom, typically during combat. The voiceovers from these characters are nicely done and well pitched. The voiceovers for everyone else, however, not sogreat. Instead, what you'll be hearing from your character and others is the excessive sounds of grunting and death cries.
FEZ's musical score feels nice and original. FEZ's soundtrack was composed by Hitoshi Sakimoto, same audio composer for such Square-Enix titles as Final Fantasy Tactics and Final Fantasy XII. With that, I feel as if music in FEZ was not created for FEZ. Rather, I feel as if the music was created for another Final Fantasy game. While FEZ's presentation may be a bit off, it shouldn't matter if it doesn't have the looks as long as it has the moves, right?
FEZ's game play certainly does make some moves, but stumbles a bit here and there. The controls for FEZ are your typical combination of keyboard and mouse. You move around using the WASD keys while looking/aiming with the mouse. You can also jump with spacebar and sidestep with Q and E. You're completely invincible to physical attack while jumping and sidestepping, but you can't attack during those actions, so only use it when the situation calls for it. Performing attacks and skills takes a bit of getting used to. Typically with MMORPGs, skills are performed by pressing hotkeys (F1-12,) but in FEZ, attacks and skills are selected using your mouse's scroll wheel and performed with your left mouse button.
On maps that are controlled by your nation, you can battle some monsters here and there for gold, items and EXP. It's nice that there is some basic Player vs. Environment content available, but doing only PvE in FEZ won't get you anywhere. FEZ is all about the hectic Player vs. Player battles for up to 100 players on teams of two.
On the battlefield, there's lots of mayhem going on, so strategy is key. Running in and trying to rambo your way through enemy lines is an easy way to get yourself killed, so you'll have to stick with your teammates and plan ahead. Every class in FEZ has their role to play: Scouts can perform status effect attacks like disarming, move in and out of enemy lines undetected and pin enemies down with their bows. Sorcerers can also use status effect magic while attacking large groups of enemies for crowd control. And warriors serve as both tankers and brute force while crippling enemy morale.
Fighting enemies isn't the only aspect of battle. Both teams have bases that must be protected. There's also building creation and unit summoning, giving FEZ a light RTS (Real-Time Strategy) element. You and your fellow teammates will have to collect crystal resources from giant crystals that are scattered all over the map. Using those crystals will let you build things such as guard towers and summon creatures like dragons that you control. There's no limit to how many resources you can collect from crystals, but there will be lots of action going on, so sticking around too long is not recommended.
Never a good idea to have a picnic around these things
The one thing about FEZ that disappointed me a bit was the combat. You see, when it comes to playing action games, I prefer the action to be as twitch based as possible (IE: gameplay similar to titles such as Devil May Cry, God of War, Ninja Gaiden, etc.) FEZ's gameplay feels way too shallow for me as most attacks and skills cannot be performed unless you target enemies that are in range. It's like the developers of FEZ could not decide wether to make the combat action based or pseudo turn based, and the results that come out of this aren't too good.
The pacing of FEZ is permanently set on one speed: Slow. Moving around the battlefield can take what seems like for forever if you're not using a summon like a knight or dragon. Thankfully, FEZ lets you auto walk using the R key, so if your character is going to be walking a straight path for awhile, you can go ahead and leave the game to go grab a soda or something.
The whole concept of FEZ is excellent, though. The battles can get exciting when you participate in struggles for crystal resources, mow down herds of soldiers with your teammates, and destroy enemy bases to achieve victory.
Fantasy Earth Zero was certainly not my cup of tea, but it can certainly be yours if you have the right mindset. The execution of skill based action and visuals were off, but everything else about FEZ is fairly decent. For any MMORPG gamer that's a PvP nut looking for a little change of pace, you may want to give Fantasy Earth Zero some consideration.
- Hectic 50 vs. 50 player battles
- Mix of action based combat and RTS elements
- Good original soundtrack
- Poor visuals & animations
- Shallow combat
- Slow paced