Saturday, December 11, 2010

Eternal Lands Review

Eternal Lands is an indie-published game that some find to be very fun. How does it stack up against other MMOs?

Being an independently-published game, I didn't know quite what to expect. Obviously, the game is a labor of love for the creator but I wasn't sure how it would actually play until I tried it.

Installation of the game wasn't too hectic, but it was definitely a little more involved than your shiny big-published games. One of the most irksome things I found about installing the game was having to install the sounds and music separately from the game itself. Being that the game is under 50MB, I saw no reason to exclude the sounds and music from the installation package.

The graphics for the game have recently been updated, but they are still well behind that of popular MMOs of the day. That's not to say they aren't good though - I found the water reflections to be pretty cool. This game is obviously more about the gameplay than the graphics.

So how is the gameplay? Well, it depends on what you like. If you're looking for a themepark-style MMO with separate levelling areas, you're going to be severely disappointed. This plays much more like your oldschool RPGs where the vast majority of your time is spent improving your character through a number of rigorous processes.

Speaking of which, advancement in the game is pretty freeform, though a lot of skills are based on knowledge in a specific tree which you must understand the basics of before branching out. You gain a good deal of skills by reading books, which takes time much like gaining skills in say, EVE Online. One can spend literally days or weeks reading some of the books, thankfully you can do other things while you're reading.

Overall, the gameplay is very grindy. You want to be better at combat, then go kill things... lots of things. Want to be better at a trade, then go learn how to craft better items. Almost everything takes a long time to develop, and often one is required to travel to dangerous areas to obtain something needed.

Which brings me to my next point of character death. When your chracter dies (and it will), you are transported to a death realm. You have about 10 minutes to get back to your corpse (meaning you have to leave the death realm, which takes you to the starter island) and pick up your items or its permanently gone. In addition, other players can choose to rob your corpse, though most won't out of respect. This is another oldschool death consequence, and one that many gamers today will find quite harsh. The game doesn't shower you with money as it is, and items already have a means of deterioration and breakage, why compound it with a "loss on death" system as well?

I played the game off and on for several weeks, and really felt as if my character had barely progressed at all. For those players with a great deal of patience, or those that really enjoy the journey, Eternal Lands provides a rich game for a long time of play. Personally, I found it a bit tedious.

Final Rating: 3/5 stars

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