Friday, September 4, 2015

Felspire Browser MMORPG Review

Felspire is a browser-based MMO that takes place in the magical world of Eremos where, like every MMO, it’s up to you to defeat evil. The story is bland and practically nonexistent, but not more so than you’d expect from a browser game. The gameplay is also just about as fun as you’d expect, with a nice bit of flair from PvP arenas, although the game is heavily detracted from by the intensive auto-questing. This is remarkably similar to other Chinese browser games such as Magerealm and Siegelord.

After a relatively simple login the game presents a rather standard character customization system. While there isn’t a whole lot in terms of customization, you can choose between male and female characters and you can customize enough to stand out. The real impressive aspect here is the class system. The initial 3-class system expands to about 15 specializations once you level up.
The gameplay itself works. It’s nothing really beyond pointing and clicking, but an impressive amount of armor and weaponry is present. PvP is a real surprise in a game of this scope, although not much skill is involved because of the simplicity of Felspire.

However, the auto-complete system is out of hand. In the time that between creating my first character, switching tabs, and then switching back I had missed the entire intro and had leveled up. Many browser games, and even some MMOs, have automated systems. Most of these just include automated walking, but there are exceptions. Felspire on the other hand is the exception. Not only is walking automated, but so is combat and full-on questing. After starting the game I didn’t have to touch anything for a full 15 minutes, and my input was only required after arriving at the game’s hub. I understand some automated gameplay to pass over boring parts of the game, but these issues could be solved in other ways (i.e. not including stretches of the game that are known to be boring). At the very least this system needs to be toned down.

I’m aware that being a browser game, Felspire is prone to issues that are caused by the browser of choice rather than the game itself. However, after testing the game on multiple browsers I still could not get the in-game map to work. There were a few loading issues here and there, but the issue with the map was the most prevalent. One positive aspect of Felspire, and other browser MMOs, is that they're Mac compatible. There aren't too many Mac MMORPGs out there, so Mac users should be glad to see more and more browser games get released. This certainly applies to Linux users too. In fact there are probably less Linux MMORPGs than Mac MMOs!

Felspire is an average game all around. While it isn’t particularly bad, it’s not great either. It doesn't bring anything new to the browser MMORPG market, but the game does have technologically impressive 2D/3D graphics for a browser game, but the graphics still don’t look that great. Combine this with a bland story and a ridiculous amount of automatic gameplay and you get a pretty average title. At least they give you a kickass sword to start with. I'd much rather play a western developed browser game like Aberoth or AdventureQuest Worlds, but that's just my 2 cents.

Friday, May 22, 2015

S4 League Review - One Man's Look into this Sci-Fi Shooter

S4 league is a brightly animated, anime-inspired 3rd person lobby-based MMO shooter from AeriaGames. The game was formerly published by Alaplaya, but Aeria acquired the game after a 2014 merger. Gameplay is extremely fast paced, players are able to select a wide variety of looks for their character, and there are numerous weapons available, ranging from conventional guns to a scythe. This game is available in North America, South America, Europe, and most of Asia through Aeria Games. There are no IP blocks so everyone can enjoy the game on the same service.

S4 League First Impressions:
The game opens with a very, very crisp looking logo and goes straight to a tutorial introducing the controls and various game modes. After completing the tutorial, the game has the player enter their ID. The actual story is almost completely irrelevant and isn't ever really addressed.
Players can select from 7 different game types, not including a practice mode. The gameplay is unique in its own way, especially when the character is sprinting, and is reminiscent of Destiny (although this game predates Destiny by a half decade). In terms of a visual style, the characters and their texturing have an anime feel, but possess nostalgic Final Fantasy-like qualities as well. S4 League's art style is what really sets it apart from other MMO shooters.

S4 League does what most games aspire to do in terms of character customization. Male and Female are the main selections, but after that, the options are nearly endless. Many players will go for straight Final Fantasy copies, with many characters emulating Lightning or Cloud, but others will go for entirely unique looks with brightly colored hair and eye catching outfits. These clothing and skin options also offer stat changes ( as well as a unique look. This aspect of the game continues to improve as the game updates because the game's creators offer little gifts with each update called “capsules”. These capsules have a variety of gifts in them from outfits to weapon skins. It can be something as simple as a new look for your character or it could be a substantial HP boost with a piece of clothing. They're also available when your team is victorious in certain game modes. This adds a new level of depth that most games simply don't have.

The maps are laid out appropriately for each game mode, but it's nothing special. With game modes like Touchdown, which is essentially a capture the flag game mode, larger maps keep things more balanced, while other modes like Deathmatch are much smaller and meant to keep the game fast paced and exciting. There's also a map series that the game designers have kept going through the duration of the game's existence, so it is nice that the game keeps in touch with its roots.
The texturing and color is fantastic, but the game did experience problems in terms of changing framerate, causing it to lag and question the integrity of the players in the lobbies. Meaning that the players in that match are cheating and it's really obvious. Games that were free of players modding didn't have this problem.

Shadowing as a whole was ok, but slightly inconsistent. For example, if a player uses a larger melee weapon such as a sword and runs around the edge of a wall, it will poke through the walls and make some odd shapes on the ground; like a shadow that runs the opposite direction of where the light is coming from.

Lastly, the sound is spot on. I had just normal earbud headphones and found the sound to be very balanced and not too loud. The announcer at the beginning of each mode is a nice addition to the stellar editing and soundtrack that the game possesses.

Gameplay Summary:
S4 League is very fast and very intense, right from the get-go. From the time the announcer introduces the game mode, a player will no they're in for something crazy with the fast-paced, well-orchestrated music. New players may struggle initially, but the concept “thrown to the wolves” is very appropriate when discussing this game. Since the game requires characters to progress based on match experience or premium purchases, it may be a bit disheartening to a new player, but it is manageable. The fast paced action reminds me of GunZ 2 or the original GunZ.

Another fun quality about this game is even though it's a sci-fi action shooter, players that prefer melee weapons can use things such as a shield breaker or an energy sword instead of a rifle or machine gun. Fortunately, with the ability to rapidly switch weapons, most players will find they prefer a hybrid style rather than just a brute or assassin-like style. This is most true when a player utilizes the sprint/slow time feature while playing. It's what propels most players toward a kill move and really separates who gets the kill and who is left waiting to spawn.

Practice mode is definitely recommended, especially if a player prefers a traditional gun, just to get used to the firing and targeting system. Another way to get accustomed to the controls would be play a less strenuous mode such as Touchdown, that way the player can gradually feel the game out without getting killed regularly as they would in a deathmatch.

Minor Details:
Although the majority of the players are honest and play normally, there are more than a few hackers out there who will make the gameplay experience quite frustrating.

Premium play isn't a requirement, but it certainly does seem to help a lot of players. These players act normal and play normally, they simply have better skins and weapons. Again, similarly to the hackers, this can be slightly discouraging to a new player. However, it will eventually balance out as a player gains experience and makes substantial upgrades to their characters and their abilities. Some things don't necessarily make sense, like a shirt carrying a weapon boost or If you're a new player, expect a wait when you're first joining a lobby. Some of the lobbies such as deathmatch or siege are full of clan players. Since this isn't the largest MMO community out there, it can take some time to get a match.

S4 League is a good game that could be a great game with a few simple fixes to the community and player matching system. The game itself is wonderful and I experienced no problems until I actually started interacting in matchmaking.

The game needs a few more maps, that's a definitive answer. While game modes like Chaser and Deathmatch have a good selection, some other modes like Touchdown will get repetitive with the lack of variety. Still, S4 offers unique gameplay unlike traditional tactical shooters like Alliance of Valiant Arms and CrossFire.

Those looking to rank up quickly will have to be persistent. As the old saying goes, “practice, practice, practice.” That really is the best way to address the gap between seasoned players and veterans. Learning corners and being an intelligent player will reap its own rewards.

This is a good game, but some of the players are broken and it really is distracting. Whether it's through a boot option or a new reporting system, hackers and modders need to be taken out of this game. Players shouldn't affect a game that much, but the inability to even spawn safely in some modes completely took me out of the game. The game plays the way it is intended to and is good for consecutive hours of playing. In addition to a great soundtrack, the actual story is super intriguing and I highly suggest looking up some of the fan art and accompanying stories that have come to fruition because of this game.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Best MMORPGs of 2010

MMORPGs offer the most in-depth gaming experiences, and the year 2010 has seen the release of some truly spectacular games. Vindictus, by Nexon, is a highly polished MMORPG that makes great use of instanced stages, and persistent world cities. The Celtic theme adds to the immersion, and the fluid gameplay and graphics, powered by the Source engine all add up to give Vindictus high production value all around.

Players looking for a more traditional MMORPG experience can look towards either Legend of Edda or Iris Online. Both games are developed by the same Korean studio, buy published by different portals here in the US. Legend of Edda has a ‘chibi’ theme and is published by GamesCampus. Iris Online has a Gypsy theme and is published by gPotato. Both games have anime style graphics, and fairly traditional gameplay mechanics. Iris Online is a bit more original, and has a more complex class system. The game is also more fully 3D, allowing for more exploration. Legend of Edda is much simpler, and has a pretty linear progression path both in terms of class progression and world exploration. Play one, or try both since they’re free to play! Unfortunately Iris Online shut down, but Legend of Edda is still around through GamenGame.

Moving on, lets talk about Battle of the Immortals. It is published by Perfect World Entertainment and is perhaps their most original MMORPG. Many of their previous games look and play like one another, but Battle of the Immortals was built on a totally different engine. It plays more like an action RPG. It has an isometric camera angle, and point-and-click movement. The game is easy to get into, and great for casual players.

Another interesting MMORPG from 2010 is Allods Online. This game combines the familiar graphic style and interface found in the popular World of Warcraft, but adds plenty of new features. Like Neo Steam and ARGO, it has a steampunk MMO Theme. That means air ships, rifles, and other fancy technologies are present. Allods Online has a very steady pacing, similar to high quality MMORPGs rather than the grind based gameplay found in many Asian MMORPGs.

Now lets get to some of the previously pay to play MMORPGs that required a monthly subscription that have been converted to free to play this year. Let’s start with EverQuest 2. It is a very well known game by Sony Online Entertainment. SOE got their feet wet in this f2p market with Free Realms and Clone Wars Adventures, both of which were aimed at a younger audience. Now that they’ve learned a bit about free to play, they’ve released EverQuest 2: Extended. Its free to play with several restrictions. Players can purchase access to additional races and classes via a cash shop. SOE also converted Pirates of the Burning Sea to f2p this year. Pirates of the Burning Sea is now perhaps the most in depth free to play game available. It has deep economic features that make it ideal for players looking for a game they can spend months or even years with.

There they are, some of the best MMORPGs of 2010. There were plenty of others but this should be enough to keep you busy over the holiday break!

Friday, December 3, 2010

APB Reloaded MMO. A look at Pay to Play Games as F2P Games

This news is a tad bit old now – but GamersFirst announced last month that they would be re-launching APB as a free to play game called “APB Reloaded”. Firstly, It’s cool to see a dead MMO like APB, which cost some $50 million to develop relaunching as a free to play title. Secondly, It’s awesome that GamersFirst is bringing back a dead game. The fact is, Real Time Worlds, the bankrupt studio behind APB, launched an incomplete game that was doomed to failure. Instead of their work being “wasted”, the game is revived as free to play. I suspect in the future, less and less pay to play MMORPGs will actually “shut down”. Instead, they’ll re-launch as free to play games just to see if the game will catch on. Dungeons and Dragons Online and The Lord of the Rings Online from Turbine were smashing hits as free to play games. In fact, both of these games made MUCH more revenues as free to play games than as pay to play ones. I would have loved to see NCSoft relaunchTabula Rasa as a free to play MMO instead of shutting the game down outright. I’d of course like to see games like Final Fantasy 11 and Age of Conan to eventually become free to play too – but seeing games become free to play instead of shutting down will prove to game publishers and developers that free to play really works.

Unfortunately, even with the success that Turbine has had with their free to play games, most game developers aren’t convinced that free to play is a viable business model for triple-A high budget titles. In reality, it is. Just look at the success Nexon has been having in North America. MapleStory, Dungeon Fighter Online and Vindictus have proven to be super popular (and profitable) for Nexon. Vindictus is easily a triple A action MMORPG with graphics that rival that of any “pay to play” game. Sony Online Entertainment is experimenting with free to play as well. They recently made Pirates of the Burning Sea free to play, and since doing so, the playerbase in the game has increased significantly. Back when the game had a free trial, I logged in to check it out and each of the game’s three servers had “ight” population. They now have “heavy” and “very heavy” population. It’s too early to say whether Pirates of the Burning Sea will do well or not as an F2P title, as the game became free to play a few days ago on November 29. I don’t think Sony Online Entertainment saw the success they expected when they made EverQuest 2 free to play 2-3 months ago. I think the reasonEverQuest 2 didn’t do that “great” as a free to play game is because it’s way too restrictive. Free to play users have shown that they dislike Mmos that are too “cash dependent”. MMORPG Cash Shops are a delicate thing and can’t be too overpowered. Gpotato learned the hard way with Allods Online that trying to milk their playerbase for every last dime they have is not a good way to keep their playerbase happy. Luckily, Pirates of the Burning Sea is much more “free” than EverQuest 2 – as there are only a handful of restrictions for free to play users. Those who end up subscribing at $15 a month receive some nice benefits, but nothing game-breaking.

I remember back when Electronic Arts released Need for Speed World, the game had some absurd level 10 cap for free to play users, and had the balls to call itself a free to play racing game. How can a game with such a level cap call itself free? It’s more like a free trial than anything else. Several months after release, EA removed the level 10 cap for free members due to player outrage. So I think any pay to play game that went free to play will eventually become more and more “free” as companies realize that they can make more money pleasing their users than angering them. Hopefully the new Battlefield MMOFPS game isn’t too restrictive, the same way Need for Speed World was when it launched. I think EA has a decent grasp on the whole F2P concept though, as they already have numerous F2P games including Battleforge, FIFA Online, Lord of Ultima and a bunch of other games.

Sunday, November 28, 2010


November has been a pretty exciting month for free to play MMORPGs so far. Iris Online (finally) launched into Open beta on Nov 23 and Legend of Martial Arts began its closed beta testing on Nov 24. Iris Online is a game that I’ve been extremely fascinated with ever since gPotato launched the closed beta in October. The game looks and feels like a very modern MMORPG, and I say that because the gameplay is very fluid and the graphics are sharp and easy on the eyes. Even though Fly For Fun and Rappelz remain some of the most popular free MMORPGs gPotato publishes, I think Iris Online has the potential to become their most successful title. Legend of Martial Arts also finally began a more public closed beta testing phase. The game is by Perfect World Entertainment and used to be known as Kung Foo a while ago. The name changed and the game was apparently re-developed into Legend of Martial Arts.

In Other news – War of Angels began its OPEN beta testing on November 24. I first played the game onGamigo months ago, but after learning about the North American IP block, I quickly became frustrated. Right after that IP block was announced, Neowiz – the Korean MMO developer behind S4 League announced that they themselves would release War of Angels globally through their own website. Those in Europe would still have to play on the Gamigo version though. Everyone else gets to play on one global service. I’m surprised that War of Angels was EU only on Gamigo, as Gamigo has several games available in both EU and North America including King of Kings 3 as well as their browser based title Cultures Online. They also have Martial Empires and Fiesta Online for Europe only. Luckily Fiesta Online is available in the U.S. Too, but Martial Empires isn’t. I’m wondering when CR-Space will get around to releasing a U.S. Version of Martial Empires…..

Another game that I should mention is Myth Angels Online from UserJoy. The game looks and plays like Angels Online from IGG, but apparently this version is supposed to be bigger and better. Those who disliked Angels Online shouldn’t even give this new Myth Angels Online a try though, as the graphics and gameplay are nearly identical. In FPS news, Mission Against Terror added several new game modes and Genesis A.D launched into open beta. Dynasty Warriors Online and Zentia also launched into full release – exiting their open beta phases, which means both games also received a bunch of updates.

November so far is looking great, but what I’m really looking forward to is the new games Webzen unveiled – Continent of the Ninth, Battery Online and R2: Reign of Revolution.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

FreeStyle Street Basketball MMO Rocks

Why is it that the few very awesome free to play MMOs out there don’t get the attention they deserve? Everytime I log onto FreeStyle Street Basketball on GameKiss, I’m upset to see so few people online. I’ve played a lot of sports MMOs from FIFA Online to Pangya. I’ve even played tons of racing MMOs like Need for Speed World and Heat Online, but none of these games are nearly as fun as FreeStyle Street Basketball. Why on Earth am I praising this game so much? Well, because it’s both simple and fun. I think the best MMORPGs out there aren’t the most graphically advanced or complicated. The most fun titles are DEFINITELY the easiest to pick up and play. Games like WonderKing and Runes of Magic for example are successful because they’re so easy to pick up and play. Other titles like NEO Online from PlayOMG and World of Tanks for example are a bit more difficult to learn. I never managed to “get into” Eve Online because it’s such a hard game to learn. I tried playing the MMO Free Trial FOUR times, and not once could I stick with the game. Black Prophecy from Gamigo does look fascinating though and aims to be more “fun” than Eve Online. While Eve is more tactical and strategy oriented, Black Prophecy aims to be more hands on actiony – something Eve Online severely lacks.

Anyway, I’m getting a bit distracted. FreeStyle is fun, because you can hop on, play one or two matches (5 minutes each) and be done with it. No large time commitment nothing. I guess one of the reasons I like most MMOFPS games is because of this same reason – small time commitment. The thing about FreeStyle is that I don’t even like Basketball. I never watch it on TV or know anything about it, but I can still launch the game and have a ton of fun. I do wish the game offered more variety in terms of gameplay modes, because as is there aren’t many ways to vary up the game. Unlike Zone4: Fight District or Lost Saga from OGPlanet, FreeStyle has like 3 game modes and that’s it. Either way, you can still play the game for fun here and there. The game’s story isn’t exactly updated often, but it’s still good enough for me.

What sucks is that the game has a low playerbase. And as we all know – games with low playerbases eventually end up in the MMO Graveyard. I think games like Runes of Magic and Perfect World will likely be around for a long while. As will other successful MMORPGs like The Lord of the Rings Online and Fiesta Online, but FreeStyle is a game that I suspect won’t last another full year, as the game never had a big playerbase, and the community isn’t growing either. Plus GameKiss announced that they would shut down Valkyrie Sky last week. When a company shuts one game down, it means the company is having financial problems. That could eventually spill over into GhostX (Another game by the same company. A scifi MMORPG) and eventually into FreeStyle Street Basketball. Time will tell though.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

APB Free to Play

Oh Man. All Points Bulletin, commonly called APB for short, is re-releasing as a free to play MMO shooter and will be publisher by GamersFirst. The game will relaunch as APB Reloaded The F2P game publisher bought up the APB assets from the now defunkt developer real-time worlds for a paltry sum. The game took some $50 million to develop, but GamersFirst bought up the rights to the game for less than $2.5 million. GamersFirst is best known for a handful of successful free to play games – their two most popular games are War Rock andKnight Online. Both games are fairly old now, but they still remain popular. APB isn’t the first “dead” game that GamersFirst bought up. They actually bought the license for 9Dragons once Acclaim Games shut down. The entire Acclaim Games story is quite funny – as they were bought by Playdom, but Playdom shut their entire website down within a month of buying the company. Needless to say, they got burnt.

According to the new APB Reloaded website – the game will be officially launching sometime in the first half of 2010. I think the entire APB concept was really neat. The idea of combing open world Grand Theft Auto environments with persistent world MMO / RPG elements sounds incredibly fun. APB is a game I never got a chance to play, as it was one of the few MMOs that didn’t have free trials. Nowadays, I play mostly free to play games, so I never actually bought APB. Even if I wanted to buy it, I had a small window to do it, as the game shut down within 2 months of launching. I think it’s one of the biggest flops in history. APB won’t be the first failed pay to play game going free to play though, Archlord used to be pay to play for its first year of release, but eventually became free to play

through Webzen and still remains F2P to date. RF Online went through the same release schedule. It launched as a pay to play game, but failed to attract a sizeable audience, so it went F2P. Even though both games aren’t huge successes, they are both still around today – they survived for years. So the whole F2P business model actually works. I think when The Lord of the Rings Online and EverQuest 2 announced that they will be going free to play, I knew F2P was for sure here to stay. Before that, I was merely speculating. Maybe Final Fantasy 14 will go Free to Play soon too.

Those who also like the APB concept, but don’t want to wait until APB releases could try that new browser based GTA style MMO – PoisonVille. The whole “Ville” bit reminds of FarmVille, PetVille, FrontierVille and all those other social games. I should mention – PoisonVille is by BigPoint and it most certainly is not a silly facebook game. The graphics are decent for a browser based game and it has some neat open world gameplay. In terms of content though, it’s quite disappointing. I’d actually hold off until APB relaunches as an F2P title, as PoisonVille has been a big disappointment. If you really want to try it though, I think you can use your SeaFight and Deepolis accounts to access it, as it’s by the same company – BigPoint.

Anyway – I’m waiting until APB releases. Anyone else pumped?