Lineage II Review
By Michael Richter |
It seems like every time I turn around there's a new MMO on the market. Most are caught between a rock and a hard place: in order to succeed these games have to cultivate a following by giving gamers something they can't get anywhere else but in order to get lots of players to buy into the idea, the developers have to adhere to proven models. Lineage 2 is in the same predicament, hoping to distinguish itself by PVP elements but presenting them in world that follows most of the conventions of the genre.
There's nothing particularly surprising about the world of Lineage 2. Rather than departing from the established fantasy milieu, Lineage offers up the all-too-predictable dwarves, elves and orcs that we've seen in countless other games. Class options are similarly unsurprising, with characters divided between the fighter and magic-user disciplines. There is a chance to specialize in your class at later levels but, for the most part, you can either throw spells or swing a sword.
The story as told through the quests reveals a world in decline. There's a real strong "those were the days" theme running through most of the conversations and the slightly nostalgic approach definitely helps the game stand out from the "world in crisis" motif that most MMOs rely on. To be fair, the world of Lineage 2 is currently in a crisis but the focus on how things aren't as great as they used to be is a nice touch.
As you run through the game world (and there is a lot of running in this game), you'll find the requisite goblins, lizardmen, wolves, etc. that you've come to expect in traditional high fantasy games. Though a few stand, cow-like in the middle of fields, there are monsters who will attack you if you get too close and there are even a few that will call their friends over for a little help when you attack them.
Combat with these enemies makes up almost all of the content in the game. In the in between time, you'll either be sitting on your butt gazing dreamily up at the sky while your health regenerates or simply running back and forth between the enemies and your quest givers. The Diablo-like point and click movement system is a really nice touch (and one I wish was present in other MMOs), but the pathfinding isn't so great. It's nice to click on a point on the horizon and trust your character to get there, but the fences, trees and rocks in the way will cause them no end of frustration.
The quest system could use a lot of work. To begin with, you're not ever sure which NPCs have quests for you and which don't until you actually select the "quest" topic during conversation. Half the time, they'll simply tell you that "conditions aren't right" for them to give you a quest. Half of the rest of the time, the quest they can offer is beyond your level. This results in a lot of useless running around and pointless conversations. While some may feel that the question mark markers in World of Warcraft are a bit gamey, they definitely direct players to content quicker than Lineage 2's system does.
This can create the impression that Lineage 2 doesn't actually have much content. And while there are plenty of quests to be found in the game, new players will have a hard time finding enough to do. The fact that you'll often have to kill dozens and dozens of the same type of monster for some of these quests does tend to extend their practical usefulness but it also adds to the monotony. You'll have a high time investment for these missions but a disproportionately small reward.
You may find yourself cringing when you decide to repeat the "collect 100 items" quest simply because there are no other apparent quests. The "I'll give you a dollar for every orc you kill" quests are more approachable but hardly provide a compelling reason to keep playing. When you do get a complicated or multipart quest, you'd better write down what you need to at each stage as you'll find that the quest journal fails to provide you with enough guidance and direction. This can be a real pain in the ass in the sequential errand running quests. At least give us some waypoints.
There should be more quests early on that lead the player to new quest givers or at least different areas of the world. As it is, there's almost no scripted incentive to strike out in new directions or see new sites until you get to higher levels. I certainly don't want the game holding my hand every time I step out of town, but having three or four early quests that led to new areas where more quests could be found would definitely help add a little more flexibility to the experience.