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Image of Anarchy Online - Review

Anarchy Online was the first sci fi MMORPG, and introduced instances to the genre. AO has a strong backstory, but remains sandbox by allowing players to choose how they play their characters, and for what reasons. Both solo and team play are well supported, as well as PvE, PvP, and roleplaying.AO has released 5 expansion since initial launch. The graphics engine is currently undergoing an overhaul, changing from an older Dreamworld engine version to the newer version used in Age of Conan.

Pros: Large game world. 14 classes & an in-depth skill system. Player run economy & cities.

Cons: Dated graphics and gameplay. Expansion pack content only available to paying members.

Storyline:

The "Source" of all life deep inside the planet created the first forms of life, who called themselves the Xan. The Xans' eventual discovery and research of the Source's power lead them to create powerful technology. They built a great civilization, but this made them greedy and arrogant. Two factions formed within the Xan, calling themselves the Redeemed and the Unredeemed. These groups fought over how best to use the Source ? now strained and unstable from their tampering. They tried in vain to fix the problem, but discovered it was too late - the Source would soon destroy the planet. Rubi-Ka was ripped apart in a cataclysm, leaving it a barren rock. The Source, and small fragments of the Xans' dead civilization, were thrown into another dimension known as the Shadowlands. The survivors left in search of other habitable planets, where they planted versions of their species; they hoped that one would prosper and eventually return to Rubi-Ka.

In the year 28,708 AD, a mining survey ship from the mega-corporation Omni-Tek rediscovered Rubi-Ka. It was a seemingly useless, arid landscape far from civilization, until the discovery of the mineral Notum. Research of Notum and its properties led to major leaps forward in nanotechnology, making possible the creation of powerful new technology, as well as the resurrection of the dead.

The first five hundred years of Omni-Tek's control of Rubi-Ka were marked with an exemplary worker treatment record. However, as time passed, their policies degraded. Their scientists' tinkering with the mutating effects of Notum on the colonists in a quest for efficiency lead to large numbers of failed experiments. Survivors of these experiments became the game's four playable races, or Breeds, each designed by Omni-Tek to specialize in a type of work. Together with the original "Solitus" race, the genetically engineered Herculean "Atrox," the intelligent "Nanomages," and the nimble "Opifexes," they continued their labor in the midst of an increasingly hostile and totalitarian culture. This caused a significant number of workers to rebel, and begin to trade stolen Notum to a rival corporation. These rebel groups, collectively calling themselves the Clans, fought a series of wars with Omni-Tek over the next several centuries.

Features:

There are currently three live servers: two catering to the US and the other to the EU. The character creation process is great, a short cutscene with voice acting introduces players to the Rubi-Ka transfer station where they chose from one of four breeds (races) and one of fourteen professions (classes.) There are few games today with so many available classes but games like Anarchy Online were pulling it off nearly a decade ago. Of course as the number of classes goes up, game balance moves in the opposite direction. Luckily, the difficulty of playing each profession is clearly labelled. The spectrum of play styles is broadly covered ? there are several tank, support, caster, damage dealer, and hybrids to chose from. Be sure to take a look at the overview tab, which goes into more detail about each class. Appearance customization is not nearly as in-depth, unfortunately. Players pick from three height options, three weight options, (does anyone really create overweight characters?) and several face styles.

The missions on the tutorial island are all quite simple. The first has you simply target several of the small island creatures nearby, the next has you kill them, and the third asks you to deliver a belt to someone. All three won?t take long and after completing them it is suggested you stick around and just grind for a few levels before leaving for the mainland.

Each level (and there are 200 levels to gain), players receive improvement points to spread among seventy-five different skills. There is a button that automatically places points into suggested skills, but most pros consider this a quick way of ruining your character. There is no rush to spend points, its fine to just let them build up, so if you?re uncertain what weapon you want to specialize in just yet, don?t allocate points. Everyone who really gets into the game should go online and read a detailed guide about their profession, but I?ll try to quickly explain the skill breakdown here. Seventy-five skills may sound daunting at first but the way they are broken down makes them much easier to manage. The first six represent the six attributes: Strength, Stamina, Sense, Agility, Intelligence, and Psychic. The rest are broken into nine categories; body, melee weapons, misc. weapons, ranged, speed, trade & repair, nano & aiding, spying, and navigation. A soldier, for example, who specializes in assault rifles can completely ignore entire categories which makes skill management much easier. Take the time to study the skills and it?ll start making sense to you.

Organizations, commonly known as guilds in other games, can be organized in a variety of ways. The creator can choose between six governing systems: Department, Faction, Republic, Monarchy, Anarchism, or Feudalism. Additionally, organizations can purchase plots in mainland cities and construct buildings which can be used to hold meetings, conduct business, or serve as entry points to large scale PvP events. Open world PvP is handled in a creative fashion; all zones have a different percentage of ?suppression gas? active. Areas with 100% suppression gas allow no PvP, 75% allows dueling and fighting among those who are PvP flagged. 25% suppression gas is open PvP among players within their level range while 0% is unrestricted open PvP.

As far as the game go it is best to wait until the game is updated for the new graphics engine because right now everything is so boxy and pixilated new players would be prone to just throwing their hands up in the air and leaving after the first 10 minutes. However once the new engine is in place this will be once again the premier sci-fi game due to its great content and features.



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