Dark Age of Camelot: Shrouded Isles & Trials of Atlantis PC CD-ROM
Developed by Mythic Entertainment
Released - Out Now
Price : £34.99 (1 month play included)
Online role playing games (or MMORPGs as they are more commonly known) are big business these days. Part of the appeal is that they are an open canvas for you to play how you want to and do what you want to, unlike a single player RPG which usually forces you down a certain path or at best offers a limited choice of the ways you can play the game. With such popularity then it's difficult for a game to stand out amongst the crowd and become established in the genre. One such game to have firmly established itself is Dark Age of Camelot (DAoC). Last year we were fortunate enough to be able to review DAoC along with its first expansion pack, Shrouded Isles. This review looks at the latest deluxe edition that contains DAoC, Shrouded Isles and the latest expansion pack Trials of Atlantis. This review will concentrate on the new features offered by Trials of Atlantis (which can be bought on it's own for £19.99). You can read our previous review here which covers DAoC and the Shrouded Isles expansion pack.
So what does Trials of Atlantis offer and is it worth paying out for if you have played DAoC and Shrouded Isles for more hours than you care to mention? Well the answer has to be a resounding yes. The graphics have been improved with new ground textures, underwater zones, a new tree and vegetation system and improved water textures. These new improvements mean that the game is now more demanding on your PC but thankfully you can toggle most of the improvements on or off (and alter the quality of details such as the quality of the reflections etc.), so if it's proving too much for your system you will be able to turn the details down so that it's less graphically intensive. Below we've included before and after screenshots so you can get a good idea of the improvements that have been made. You'll notice the increased reflection detail on the water with the picture on the right as this is the screenshot from the game with the Trials of Atlantis graphical enhancements being utilised.
As the title would suggest the main focus of the expansion, for hardcore players at least, is the new trials of Atlantis. So what are the trials then? Well basically they are a series of tests that the Atlanteans used to show their power and knowledge. For each trial that is completed you'll earn a special ability that is tailored to your character's class. Completion of the trials can also earn you master abilities. Master level paths that can be undertaken include the likes of Banelord, Spymaster and Warlord. You're not going to be able to take the trials though unless your character is at least level 40. This could prove to be a deterrent to players who don't have a character that isn't even close to such a high level. That said it's definitely an addition longstanding players will appreciate as it gives them the potential to earn new, special abilities that can't be earned in any other way.
You'll also find that Trials of Atlantis contains three new races, one for each realm. For the realm of Hibernia the Shars have been added, for Midgard the Frostalfs and for Albion the Half-Ogre. None of these differ too greatly from what's already on offer but it serves the purpose of giving you extra choice when choosing a new character. Of course if you already have a highly developed character then you're probably not going to choose one of these characters as it will take a very long time before you can participate in the trials. In addition to the new races you'll also get the four regions of Atlantis. Oceanus is an underwater affair with sunken ships and destroyed temples. Stygia is a desert environment with unbearable heat in the day and freezing temperatures at night, very inhospitable. Stygia is kind of Egypt like and there are even pyramids to gaze at. Volcanus is a mystical place covered in lava stone and sulphur where everything is scorched. This furnace like region is also home to many terrible creatures. Finally there is Aerus which used to be regarded as the showpiece of the Atlantean empire. The floating city used to be magnificent but now it's a crumbling wreck although it still holds many secrets.
In our previous review of DAoC and Shrouded Isles we said that it was fine for deaf gamers and there is nothing here that would change our opinion. What I would say though is that at 800x600 the new interface does seem cluttered this time around. Thankfully it can be customised. All of the dialogue boxes can be made transparent, as previously, but again we'd advise against doing this as it can make the text difficult to read on occasions. All communication is made through text and NPCs only communicate through text, so essentially you're going to be able to enjoy the game without feeling disadvantaged in any way. The game manual contains around 85 pages and is fairly informative. Any further information you may require can be found on the official website which can be found here.
The Trials of Atlantis expansion pack for me is really aimed at longstanding players who want to get more out of the game and give their characters that extra challenge. The addition of extra races and better graphics, player actions and of course the trials themselves are all welcome. It's a shame that it requires you to have purchased the Shrouded Isles expansion as well as the original DAoC game. In fact if you only bought DAoC and didn't purchase the Shrouded Isles expansion then you're probably going to save money by purchasing the whole lot (£34.99) as opposed to the two expansions (£39.98).
Trials of Atlantis
Game Rating: 7.0/10
Trials of Atlantis is really catering for advanced players and the fact that you need to own the first expansion pack can prove a deterrent to those who only own the original DAoC. That said though it offers some good extras.
Combined DAoC, Shrouded Isles and Trials of Atlantis pack
Game Rating: 8.5/10
If you don't already own DAoC and Shrouded Isles then this is a great package. For just £34.99 (even cheaper from online stores) you get the lot, which is excellent value.
No problems at all for deaf gamers.