Saturday, May 4, 2013

Review - Ragnarok 2

Today in gaming: I took a look at Ragnarok II -- a free-to-play MMORPG from South Korea-based Gravity Corporation. This game appeared on Steam two days ago and I decided to take a look and see if it was something I wanted to try for the weekend.

The game has all the usual MMO trappings. You begin the game by selecting your character -- including features like gender, eye color, hair style, etc. It's here that you will also choose his or her first class (there's a second class later) and profession. In my case, I was a female archer/blacksmith -- which required me to attack enemies at range as well as mine and store large rocks in my backpack.

Apparently, each class has a different starting tutorial area and mine was in an onion-infested village. The settings menu left a lot to be desired. There is no 1280x720 option, so that's why the video you're watching has a letterbox around it.

"Click terrain to move" is a default option when you begin the game. This causes serious camera issues when you try to click on a dead enemy to collect loot. I highly recommend turning this feature off.

I found my character to be quite slow, so I decided to look up how to make her run faster -- Alt+R as it turns out. However, pressing both the ALT and the "R" key at the same time makes her walk so slowly, I mistakenly thought she had died. Turns out she had been running all along.

I count that as a negative.

Moving into gameplay, the game is based on Norse mythology. An evil force called the Dimago have taken advantage of a truce between the weakened forces of previously warring Norman factions. Your job is to finish missions given to you by NPC players -- and sometimes enemies.

For instance, In one quest, a girl with an allergy problem who was standing in a field of flowers -- rather than relocate to a different location -- had me viciously murder all the flowers in the area. Equally disturbing, I was asked to hunt down "suspicious people" and bring back "evidence" of their wrongdoing -- from their dead bodies. All this makes me think that I may have been drafted into an organization that will actually turn out to be the bad guys later on.

The game has really nice graphics -- especially for a free-to-play MMO. But I have to admit that I did turn some of the unnecessary stuff off to make it run smoother. So, this game is not without it's faults.

In one instance, I attempted to kill an evil onion who was behind a fence hoping that he would have to hop around to the gate -- thereby giving me enough time to kill him before he could get within range for a strike. I was shocked to find him passing through the fence in what was clearly a poorly-coded path-finding mechanic.

I tried placing a magical trap on the ground that exploded immediately even though the enemy it wounded was no where near it.

After one quest, when I went to give the quest item to the NPC in exchange for a gift, I was told that my bag was full (and it was) even though it was a 1-for-1 transfer.

So, the game has some minor flaws, but the overall substance of the game seems sound.

This game has some humor as well. I found an NPC that was quite fetching by NPC standards, yet has the voice of a 72 year old crone.

And as far as game mechanics are concerned, there are some familiar faces and some unique offerings. There's more than just upgrading your spells and your character. Enemies will sometimes drop cards. These cards can be combined with other cards and/or placed into card slots that will then grant buffs to your character. For instance, there are spider cards that grant boosts to wisdom, strength, agility, and vitality in increasing tiers depending on the level of the card.

And the bonus quests are done via a mini-game that allows you to choose bonus quests from a huge matrix. As you complete the quests, the boxes change to read "clear". I haven't cleared enough quests to see what happens in the game, yet, but I'll keep you informed.

The animations in this game are very well done and it's clear that the designers were looking to give you a AAA game experience at free-to-play prices. However, I would have liked them to focus a little more on solid coding as some of the terrain blocks the camera during combat and things like the poor path-finding can really break the immersion.

With that being said, it's hardly the worst on-line MMO I've played. In fact, I was so happy to see that they weren't pushing a VIP membership or clogging my HUD with icons and massive chat boxes that I almost flew to Korea to kiss someone.

I'm not an MMO guy so I'm not going to be playing this one for years or anything. However, the story has sufficiently captivated me that I have resolved to escape the tutorial area just so I can see what the main story looks like. This one will last the weekend -- and that's saying a lot.

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