Ferion Online Review: Hours Of Fun?
By Kei Beneza (dividelife), OnRPG Journalist
Ferion is an old school MMO browser game that deals with space exploration and governing. Here, players are required to explore the vast depths of space while ruling and arming planets to best their opponents in battle. The game has been around since 1999 (forgive me if I haven't heard of it) and has been catering the same (awesome) gameplay since it made its debut. Weird enough, the game still has a large player base. It is pretty hard to comprehend as newer (and possibly better) MMOs are also available. I don't mean to generalize but you know how the nexgen mindset works right? Anyway, the game is rather forward with titles, declaring itself the best of its kind since 1999. An exaggeration? I guess we'll be the judge of that.
The object of the game is rather simple: Take over as many planets as you can. This is done by joining arenas that are hosted by the game. It may get pretty messy when competing with veteran players, hence the newbie arenas. This gives players enough time to mass up and learn. One thing that pretty much got my attention was the learning curve. It certainly is a hard game to master, and simply studying it overnight won't suffice. Unlike other games that throw you in the middle of the battlefield with in game tutorials, this game prefers to keep it old school, advising players to read a long-arse manual before jumping in. Funny enough, the game also offers a hard copy of the in game manual (extra shelf space...). A bit too hardcore for my taste, so I guess the PDF file will have to do. It's a long read, kind of like of one those Dungeons & Dragons manuals back in the day.
Upon starting the game (provided that you've read the manual), players are provided with their pseudo-starter set, complete with your very own planet and settlement ship.
Hours Of Fun(?): Queue It!
Yes, that's right! Hours! Unlike other browser games that allow you to experience your progress, Ferion Online makes you wait a few hours before your units finish their research. It is rather troublesome considering that this is supposed to be a game. Games are supposed to be fun and should keep you entertained through the duration of your playtime rather than make you wait (watches TV). Anyway, that's just my pet peeve. The game allows players to queue their progress, allowing them to continue their space race even when they're offline. Another way to quicken the pace is, of course, by enhancing population. This is done by conquering neighboring planets.
The game play is a bit fast paced but eventually puts you on hold. At first you'll find yourself clicking on various links, researching and building to make use of each tick (hour). The first step to conquering the place is by moving your ship (or Settle Ship) across the map to populate neighboring planets. Note that it gets really hard once you decide to enter the free-for-all arenas as other players will most likely race you to each neighboring planet.
Hint: Always aim for the planets closest to you.
It's a battle for supremacy, so you better watch your back and plan 3 steps ahead. Conquering planets is essential in the game as it enhances both your researching ability and your effectiveness in combat. No use fighting a whole galaxy of enemies if you're just one little planet, yes? It's actually nice to see a game that demands this form of strategy. It really does feel like you're the ruler of various planets. It's like micro-managing at a higher level, with tons of planets and objectives to ponder while preparing for war at the same time.
When The Going Gets Tough, Let Someone Else Do It!
Having problems? You can always join alliances, which sort of acts like the Guild system of various MMOs. Unlike other games, joining alliances actually costs you money, through your tax rate. Joining alliances has both its ups and downs. First off, you can instantly be dragged into conflict by other members (especially the shady ones). Secondly, the lack of performance can greatly affect the reputation of your empire. Also, just to clear things up--- there is no guarantee that you'll win on each arena by joining an alliance; however, if you do feel like this group is leading you somewhere, then by all means join. Joining can be pretty expensive for starters, so better take your time going solo before committing to any peace treaties.
Cannot Be Considered As Free To Play
I was pretty disappointed when I saw the imbalance spawned by the lack of keys. For those of you who don't know, keys are acquired through real money. You can still play the game for free but will continue to suck until you finally decide to give in. So what exactly do these keys give? Well, they gives you the ability to access your own arena, which means gaining access to various research items, defenses and units. Let's face it, it's practically a free to play MMO sickness! They hook you with sugar-coated cookies and eventually throw you in the fire.
1999? If this interface existed during that time then it's pretty good. From a modern perspective, the visuals aren't that bad, but a bit text heavy at times, especially since you're bound to read a hefty book upon starting the game. The game has a pretty nice map screen that moves around every time you press the corresponding arrow but I'm not sure if it will suffice. It's actually not too shabby for an old game... Other than the hefty read (because reading is for school and work), I'm pretty much okay with the whole interface...
The best since 1999? Maybe! I must say, the game has a serious level of game play. There are tons of things to ponder on, but will most likely be followed by countless hours of waiting. In my opinion, it can actually function as an intermission game rather than a main one. If you're just going to queue stuff then might as well play something else during this period; still, the game provides a very unique experience, with combat strategies and galactic domination unlike any other. If you're into games that are hard to learn and have some serious depth, then Ferion is the one for you... if you can take the waiting time that is...
-Pretty good for an old game
-Queue system (how I wish modern browser games could incorporate it)
-Keys are essential to victory
-Imbalanced at some point
-Not newbie friendly
-Requires lots of reading time