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An Early Review of Aion

Aion, one of the newest online multiplayer pc games, made its North American Debut recently on September 22. I have only progressed to level 15 (out of a maximum of 50), but even so, here are my thoughts on the game thus far.

Story

I don’t want to spill too much, as a lot of what you learn is in game. In short though, the guardians of the Atreia (the game world) desired power to rival Aion’s (their god). When he refused to grant it, they started a war that eventually tore the world asunder, splitting it into an upper and lower half. The upper half remained much the same as it had been, while the lower half was blocked off from the sun by the upper half. The darkness and remnants from the war caused the inhabitants of the lower half to develop claws and talons on their hands and feet to fight against monsters, as well as a mane down their back for warmth.

Video

The visual presentation in Aion is impressive, especially for an mmo. The terrain rises and fall smoothly, as real land would, rather than having things like corners at the apex of a hill. Any time a player character, or anything else for that matter, is in water, the surface is transparent, showing what’s beneath, but also reflects things above the surface. In my experience, even with current games, most of the time it’s one or the other, but not both. All of the characters and npc’s are excellently rendered and actually have depth to the details, instead of using flat maps. My only complaint about the player characters is that they’re a bit over-bright, looking as if there’s a permanent sheen of sweat on their faces. On the other hand, Aion gets major kudos for having a very minimal amount of clipping throughout the game. In general the game looks phenomenal and runs at an astounding smoothness (roughly 60-70 fps on a geForce 9800gtx OC with all in-game settings cranked to maximum).

Audio

Simply put, I would have to say that Aion has the best-written music I’ve ever heard in a video game. Everywhere you go (almost literally), you’re hearing a new, different piece of background music. I went into a little shop earlier that sells swords and daggers, and the music changed to a little ditty-sounding piece that had the sounds of fencing worked into the music itself. Most areas in the world also have unique music, even to the combat music. Speaking of which, that brings me to my favorite part of Aion: the combat music you hear when you start the game – a fast paced bit of metal, in the flavor of the music in the movie “300.” The only downsides to the audio is that most of the music pieces are far too short (the bit in that sword shop lasts about 10-15 seconds, and the bass levels on almost everything is a little lacking… it doesn’t need to be of the “thump-thump” type, but it could use a lot more presence.

Combat

For the most part, the combat system is fairly similar to that of most mmo’s that I’ve played, the differences being mostly in the details, although everything does seem very tuned to which class is currently being used. While playing my Gladiator (heavily armored, large weapon wielder) I was able to mostly stomp through whatever I wanted without taking too much damage despite being face-to-face, whereas on my Ranger (light armor, bows) I’ve been able to kill monsters even faster, but if I get up close and personal my character starts taking a beating. The way different classes deal damage even has noticeably different feels too, so it doesn’t feel like doing the same thing while merely looking different. There is also flight based combat (every character gets wings at level 10!); however I’ve not had much opportunity to experience that yet.

General Gameplay

The flight controls are a little iffy and take a bit of getting used to, but aren’t too bad. Also, camera direction could use some work – turning your camera with the mouse and then turning the character causes him to face the direction of the camera instantly, making it tough to look at the surroundings while running on a path, and there is no way to disable the camera auto-returning to a behind-the-character 3/4 view when letting go of the mouse button turning the camera. When it comes to crafting, I would have to say Aion stands above other games – mostly. Every profession can be learned and taken to high levels, but only one can be fully mastered (or maybe two, I’m not certain yet). Leveling said professions is also a breeze and relatively inexpensive, as the trainers offer work orders where they provide most of the materials needed to make a few items, and even give a small reward for each time a work order is completed, and the work orders can be repeated an infinite number of times.

Summary

Story:………8.5 Video: ……..9.5 Audio: ……..9.0 Combat:……9.0

Gameplay:…9.0

Average:……9.0. Excellent game.

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