Monthly Archives: April 2011

Spiral Knights: Nostalgia Made New

Spiral Knights: Nostalgia Made New

By Michael Sagoe (mikedot), OnRPG Journalist

 

 

The Clockworks are in full rotation as Three Ring Design (with some help from Sega) released a brand new multiplayer adventure called Spiral Knights. Through the power of JAVA based programming, Spiral Knights mixes classic dungeon crawling with tons of MMO goodness, all working within your internet browser!

 

Spiral Knights Review

Crash landing on a strange planet, you and a bunch of other knights must explore the world that waits below them in order to build a new ship and make it back home (or wherever they were going…)

 

 

For starters: Creating your knights gives you a small but adequate amount of choices, along with different color schemes that will stick with you depending on the different armors you will be equipping later on.

 

The game gets you up to speed with a control scheme that is incredibly simple. So simple, in fact, that you can play the game with one hand: Hold left mouse button in a general direction to move, press left mouse button to attack and use the scroll wheel to switch weapons.
You can also use keyboard for more options such as blocking and using vials. Controls for keyboard & mouse work great, but the lack of gamepad support is fairly disappointing considering the game could easily pass as a console title.

 

 

The amount of weapon types at your disposal is small, but the variations between each one is vast. Each sword, gun and bomb type work differently and have different attributes, such as Cutters that can perform lighting fast attacks or the slow and powerful hatchets that can cause a stun effects with heavy blows. This will give players a small amount of strategy before heading into dungeons, but you’ll most likely find one or two weapon and armor sets that will work best for you depending on which tier you’ve reached.

 

 

My personal favorite was the Autogun because it looks suspiciously like a Nerf Maverick.

 

Spiral Knights Review

 

Spiral Knights Review

Awesome.

 

 

The overall presentation of Spiral Knights screams “nostalgia” at every turn. The visual style and level designs look like they came straight out of a Legend of Zelda game. There is also some pleasant and epic music with a 16-bit vibe.

 

 

The difficulty curve for each dungeon seems to be nice and appropriate: Tier 1 dungeons are a cakewalk, Tier 2 dungeons get a little more complicated and Tier 3 dungeons requires some serious skill, patience and teamwork. Venturing through each dungeon is as simple as defeating a couple of enemies in one area, moving on to the next area, fight some more enemies, find some treasures and head for the exit. It’s nice and simple, just like a dungeon crawler should be.

 

 

Most of the monsters you will do battle against are fairly predictable to take down, but when you have to deal with huge mobs of them, battles tend to get fairly frustrating at times.

 

 

One common mistake that most action/adventure games have when setting difficulty curves is when they simply give enemies higher HP and higher attack power instead of making them smarter, but enemies in Spiral Knights do indeed get smarter at higher difficulties. This is especially true of gremlins that will dodge bullets like crazy and run away to heal themselves when they are low on health.

 

Spiral Knights Review

As fun as adventuring into the Clockworks can be, the biggest issue with Spiral Knights is a lack of content and the energy system.

 

 

While you are essentially not required to buy anything with real money, the energy system in Spiral Knights serves as an elevator key, a crafting substance and a pseudo-fatigue system. Energy is used for just about everything, and you will need to keep your energy up by either buying some with real money or by exchanging your hard earned crowns (in-game currency) for some.

 

For anyone that’s willing to drop in a few bucks from time to time, having a constant supply of energy will be no problem, but for anyone that doesn’t want to pay will have two problems: When all their mist energy (free rechargeable energy) is gone, they’ll have to exchange their crowns for crystal energy to continue venturing the dungeons while potentially missing out on being able to purchase new equipment and recipes for a while, or they will simply have to wait up to 22 hours for their mist energy to refill back to 100.

 

 

Of course, there is somewhat of a solution to the first problem, and that’s heading back to the surface and selling your stuff, but it will usually be stuff that you’ll need to craft your own equipment to continue on, so the dirty cycle continues. The current energy system only gives free players around two hours of play time, and that’s only if they don’t they don’t screw up and die constantly, forcing them to spend more energy to revive themselves or hope that other players are willing to use their energy to revive them.

 

Spiral Knights Review

 

Not to mention: Energy costs for reviving double each time.

 

 

If you’re looking for a casual experience, Spiral Knights will be perfect for you. However, there isn’t enough content here to keep a power player busy, especially with the lack of content stemming from the lack of different stages to explore. The Clockworks promises to have tons of new stages to explore, but in truth, many stages you visit are simply re-tooled with different monsters to fight against.

 

Spiral Knights Review

Did you enjoy playing that fire themed stage over and over again? Well good, because now you get to play an incredibly similar stage with an ice theme!

 

 

Just to give you a general idea about how much content we are dealing with here: Some players have already been spotted with 5-star equipment, which is supposedly endgame equipment and the game has only been out for a couple of weeks…

 

 

One thing I really got to say, though: The community in Spiral Knights is probably one of the nicest online communities I have ever played with. Everyone playing acts like a total bro, always there to lend a hand and everyone is always doing their best to conquer dungeons with you. I have never come across one rude player. Not one! But then again, the game is centered on PvE, so the community has no reason to be full of elitists or anything like that

 

 

Overall: Spiral Knights is a great game to those looking for a casual pacing and a bit of nostalgic gaming. Those that are looking for a much more extensive experience will probably have to wait awhile for more content to roll in, and judging by the constant amount of updates being churned out by Three Ring Design, that shouldn’t be too far off.

 

 

Pros:

Zelda style dungeon crawler
Browser game; can be played on almost any PC
Clean visuals
Nostalgic 16-bit music

 

Cons:

No official gamepad support
Lack of content
Energy system needs a bit of retooling

 

PlayStation Network and Qriocity Compromised

Playstation Network and Qriocity Compromised

 

Although it is outside our normal realm of coverage at OnRPG, we needed to get the word out. If you are a user of the Playstation Network or Qriocity, your account information including passwords, birthdate, billing address, and other provided information has likely been accessed by a skilled hacker that broke through the Playstation security protocols between April 17 and April 19th.

 

Playstation is pulling out all stops in securing their network and they have hired a third party security firm to figure out how this crime was committed and who was behind it. Playstation and Qriocity services will be down in the meantime until security is confirmed.

 

To our readers, please take the time to check with your financial institutions and be sure that no unusual activity has taken place on your card. Although it is not certain how much information the hacker was able to acquire, it never hurts to error on the side of caution!

 

 

GEO: Grand Epic Online

Grand Epic Online is one of the most detail oriented browser based Fantasy MMORPGs on the market. The game plays like an old school 2.5D dungeon crawler but in beautiful traditional asian themed graphics that almost seem too good to be completely hosted within a browser. All the action is face-paced and cut throat. You had better use your 9 hot keys well, as danger lurks around every turn.

 

The game offers great character customization with a huge number of character attributes you can strengthen to build the ultimate fighting machine. These stats can be increased in the typical grinding and questing method, however you can also use the various unique systems to gain power such as reincarnation, dual immortal practice, and a journey of Enlightenment. Powerful titles can also be obtained as a result of these side missions, unlocking your character’s full power. All this must be mastered and utilized if you wish to rise the ranks as one of the top player killers around.

 

Grand Epic Online features wonderful record keeping, allowing you to keep track of the total number of monsters and players you have slain in your adventures. You can even see how many times you have died, what your total elemental affinity is, and what your prestige rests at, all in the click of a button. It’s surprising that a browser game has gotten this right while so many client based MMORPGS still lack the same features!

 

Grand Epic Online even features a full blown crafting system for those who tire of meditation and battle!

 

 

LEGO Universe Goes Big, Major Updates!

LEGO Universe Goes Big, Major Updates

 

LEGO Universe is rolling out a huge round of content updates next week, with major expansions to explore and new features to inspire. On May 3, players must band together to tackle a cooperative building challenge; a month-long mission to complete the construction of the Nexus Tower. LEGO Universe will also add a fiery hot racetrack, exclusive racing vehicles and bigger Property worlds, with new capabilities – like placing pets on your personal property and bringing them to life! All of this, plus tons of new models, missions, rewards and more, are headed to LEGO Universe next week.

 

It takes a village… to raise a Nexus Tower

An upcoming community building mission will have all minifigures in the LEGO Universe working together to help assemble the greatest in-game creation yet – Nexus Tower! Currently under construction, the Nexus Tower will protect the Nexus of Imagination from Maelstrom enemy forces upon completion.

 

LEGO Universe Nexus

 

To finish the Tower, the heroic Nexus Force needs help. Well, actually, they need more bricks! An urgent donation drive begins next week, and players will have one month to complete the task. Only a truly collaborative effort will make Nexus Tower a reality, to serve as a beacon of light and hope to minifigures across the LEGO Universe! The cause is nobler than ever, and the Nexus Force is calling on players to contribute bricks as soon as possible, before the Maelstrom snuffs out Imagination forever.

 

 

Throughout the month-long challenge, stop by Nimbus Station Race Place to drop off bricks at the Nexus Force donation machine. Generous donors will earn achievements and rare one-time-only rewards.

 

Hot new racetrack, cool new cars

Beginning next week, players can outrace the Maelstrom itself, on a fiery new racetrack – the most challenging yet in LEGO Universe! Players will venture deep within the dangerous, dragon-filled depths of Forbidden Valley to find the Dragonmaw Chasm racetrack, complete with a slew of new missions and some super-hot rewards. Skilled survivors can unlock new achievements, along with racecars like the Fire Brawl and Mach Lava.

 

LEGO Universe Nexus

 

Eight exclusive vehicles, coming to LEGO Universe next week, will give players a speedy new way to flaunt their Faction pride and get in the racing spirit this month! Designed in true Nexus Force fashion, the sleek new cars and rockets are representative of the four Factions found in LEGO Universe, including the powerful Sentinels, daring Venture League, creative Assembly and mysterious Paradox.

 

Property worlds: Bigger, Better, Fuzzier

Two highly-anticipated property updates are also major news this month, giving players more space to build and new ways to bring their creations – and pets – to life in LEGO Universe. A huge new property world was just discovered in Nimbus Station, and will be accessible when Nimbus Isle debuts next week. For players with Block Yards bursting at the brim, Nimbus Isle will offer the largest real estate yet, complete with remarkable LEGO ocean views.

 

LEGO Universe Nexus

 

And it gets better! Beginning next week, players will be able to place pets on their in-game properties and bring them alive with behaviors. There is no telling what amazing animal masterpieces the LEGO Universe will dream up, and players can draw even more inspiration from new Zoo and Safari-themed model sets, available next week from the model vendor in Nimbus Station.

 

Age of Empires Online First Look

Age of Empires Online First Look

By Michael Dunaway (Spunkify), OnRPG Forum Manager

 

Remember Age of Empires? Well if you consider yourself any sort of RTS buff you should. The Age of Empires series in the past has been one of the most successful RTS franchises (yes there have been other popular RTS franchises other then Starcraft). The originals have won countless awards and have solidified themselves in the RTS hall of fame.

 

Age of Empires Online Preview

 

Being an old Age of Empires fan myself, I was quite excited to hear that a new Age of Empires Online title was coming out, and better yet for free! I will admit I was a bit skeptical as to how well the new game would turn out, but after getting the chance to play around with it a bit in the open beta I am confident where it is headed.

 

 

Age of Empires Online combines a progressive MMO setting with a traditional RTS single player and Multiplayer. This is all accomplished with the introduction of the player’s home town. At the start of the game you are asked to choose a nation (currently only one nation is playable) and name your home town. This town serves as your base of operations as you take up quests offered up by different citizens in your town.

 

Age of Empires Online Preview

 

The quests themselves play out like your typical single player RTS campaign missions. They give you a few objectives and some starting resources and town folk to work with. Everything plays out just like it did in the original AoE titles but with an added layer of MMO sprinkled on top. Whereas the traditional Age of Empires introduced you to new unit types as you progressed. Age of Empires online allows you to complete missions to unlock new items and structures within your home town. On top of this your home town also levels up giving you access to the three skill trees to spend your skill points in. The skills range from opening up new unit types, to allowing your workers to build buildings faster or gather resources quicker. I can definitely see a huge potential for strategy here as players customize their home town to match their personal tactics.

 

Age of Empires Online Preview

 

I have yet to get a chance to test out the multiplayer components but I am curious to see how they play out. I do worry that because of the need to level up in order to gain access to new skill points and unlocks, newer players looking to play more than just the quests early on may be at a huge disadvantage. Still the game is being developed by some of the original creators of Age of Empires. So with any luck we will have a great free to play RTS with some awesome MMO elements mixed in! Be sure to check back in to OnRPG for new updates and a full review!

 

Empire & State

Empire & State represents a unique MMO that focuses on society and status rather than grinding monsters to acquire power. Like the real world, the major driving factors for the players will be politics, economics, crime, and warfare. Empire & State gives you a wide range of freedom in designing your character and story. From a CEO, to a General, to even a mob boss, the choices are yours in how you play.

 

In Empire & State you are measured by wealth and societal status rather than XXX amount of strength as a sign of your power. To acheive great success, you will have to win over the trust of your fellow players ad prove your worth in one of the various modes of gameplay available. Will you lead armies to battle against the android uprising? Perhaps negotiate a peaceful truce to a long standing diplomatic disagreement with a foreign leader? You might even gain the trust of the masses and be elected to president of a nation yourself!

 

Of course the dark side is very present in Empire & State. Just like our world, politicians are not always selected for their utopian plans and platforms promising benefit for all. If you can twist your way through the criminal underground and come out alive, vast power will be at your fingertips. Through bribery, espionage, and blackmailing you maybe able to overcome a much greater opponent and claim power for yourself.

 

Now say you aren’t a leader of men? What place could you possibly have in this world then? Well there is much to be gained by betting on the winning horse. Use your connections to help raise your syndicate to global dominance, and the rewards will shower upon you even if you are not the figure head of the ship. But say something were to happen to the leader once your position was attained? Oh what a shame it would be if you had to replace your former leader, fallen from grace.

 

 

As these examples show, Empire & State is a dark gritty world of deceit, diplomacy, and cunning. If you want to be tested in a way no MMO has tested you before, Empire & State is waiting for you to try.