Preview: Fantasy Online Almost Final, But Not Quite
By Vincent Haoson, OnRPG Journalist
Fantasy Online is a MMORPG game that is reminiscent of old console 8-bit RPGs, more specifically, Final Fantasy (see the connection? Fantasy Online? Final Fantasy- online?) The game uses the usual route of RPGs, with an unnamed adventurer taking on the world with his uh... bare essentials.
Yeah, you heard that right, you start the game.... Naked. Before you get all high and mighty about "nudity in games", you have to remember that the game runs on a 8-bit visuals so the nakedness you expect to see is muddled by pixelated imagery (so parents put down those pitchforks).
The first thing that I noticed upon entering the game is that the game doesn't take itself too seriously. Who would even think that an adventurer starting of butt naked with a farmer NPC happily snickering beside you while he sends you off to menial errands while lying about who has your clothes.
Fantasy Online has all the basic elements you can find in any RPG game. You have quests, towns, stats, equipment and monsters. The game uses all the novelties found on RPGs and creates itself its own sassy version of it.
As an RPG, this game is pretty solid specially if you want to play an old-school RPG which makes you see real people playing it with you at the same time. However I must say that the game's appeal is isn't for the general public specially for those who are used to seeing their MMORPGs in 3D and stunning visuals that can blind a blind man (yes pun intended).
The Game's Sass
Graphics-wise, Fantasy Online is definitely going to be chewed out by it's MMORPG competitors even of the simplest F2P MMORPGs. However the game takes on this limitation by becoming sassy beyond compare.
The sass is the game's attitude and it'd be the one thing that separates this game from the rest, even with its graphics limitations notwithstanding. The question of "will it be enough to keep me playing" however is highly dependent on your tolerance of such games. Personally, my tolerance to the game is longer because its pretty fun to play. I don't personally weigh narrative, graphics or gameplay as long as it doesn't eddle with the game's fun factor, which Fantasy Online definitely brings.
As another "endearing" feature, Fantasy Online is integrated on Facebook. For those who are crazy for bragging their l33t skills over their walls are gratified with the in-game integrated share system. Aside from that, the game also allows you to take screenshots of your game and post a gallery directly on your wall (as if the updates are not open enough).
I personally, think this is a great way for the game to be marketed to people of course with the addition of providing you with more reasons to play the game (I'm referring to those who want their FB wall littered with game updates).
The good thing about the Facebook integration is that it's not required to play. While the game developers encourage you to play the game over at Facebook you can still play the game on their own site.
The game is one of those rare MMOGs where there is no designated "job classes" to choose from. The game still adheres to the RPG class stereotype of the melee, ranged and magic classes but there's no official title for it.
In exchange for this "freedom" from the usual job classes you are given free rein on which stats you want to allocate. The stats system however is crucial in Fantasy Online because most of the weapons you can use have stat requirements.
Stat allocation in Fantasy Online requires a prior knowledge of RPGs if you want your first experiences with the character free from problems caused by bad decisions in stat allocation. The good thing about this is that at later stages if you grow tired of the ranged weapons you can switch to melee or even magic as long as you have invested enough stats on it.
Fantasy Online's skill system is also free from any restriction of a designated job class. However, the skills also follow the stat requirement in place. You have the capacity to provide support or kill monsters with various skills ranging from the strength, agility, stamina or intellect variety as long as you meet the requirement.
With all the game's novelty, the one thing I found irksome with Fantasy Online is that it's one big tedious grindfest. True to form, the game follows the vanilla RPGs of PVEing or questing to get stronger, better and faster. However, with the lack of any semblance of a story, you may eventually think that all this questing and PVEing as downright pointless.
Overall, Fantasy Online is one fun game to play. Even though the game's not as graphically advanced as the rest of the MMORPGs out there, it's has at least rekindled the joys of going through areas of green-uh pixels in a world that's so unprepared for a butt naked hero or heroine.
What I liked about the game is that it provides players total freedom on how they want their characters to turn out. With the removal of prescribed classes and the freedom to get skills without any restriction save for the stats, the game provides you with a very customizable character to play on.
The game's sassiness is pretty fun and refreshing to see, but once the novelty wears off it'd become a cheap gimmick to give players the necessary half-second smirk whenever you click on an NPC.
My main issue with Fantasy Online is that it's a very tiresome grindfest of game. While it does complete the atmosphere that this is in fact a game that hails back to my Final Fantasy roots, its tediousness is a stark reminder of why I wasted hours in front of my console. Also, in today's standards, grindfests are more or less shunned upon by the gaming public unless its one great game and Fantasy Online, while being fun fails to reach the "great" status enough to warrant the tedious grind (even if it's not a problem for me personally).
I hope the game improves more, and I know it has potential to be a better game. With it still on OBT I believe the game can become one of the better Facebook connected games out, it just needs more tweaking.